Tour operators and travel agents – are you really protected?
By Jeremy Clayton
Recently, I have been astonished over the lack of proper insurance cover that Travel Agents, Tour Operators or Tourism businesses who offer travel arrangements for customers buy here in East Africa. I get a phone call or I visit the client at their offices and they proudly show me their Public Liability policy issued by ‘Bodget & Scarper Insurance Company’ and tell me they are already covered. Normally, I have to tell them that what they have is a waste of their money and then start explaining what I have seen in my last 5 years of providing insurance services for the Tourism sector.
Recently we have had a Travel Agent who advised a particular gentleman that he could pick up his visa when he arrived in a certain country. He couldn’t owing to a technicality, and he was sent away at the cost of $20,000. Another large group had two incidents of ‘food poisoning’…and as they arranged the camp facilities, they were brought into the case, one was settled by the overseas travel company at £21,000 and they are reclaiming from our clients, and the other case is currently outstanding at £50,000! The next one case was the provision of a vehicle for use by a customer. The brakes failed, lack of maintenance was alleged and the injury claim, loss of enjoyment and general damages is yet to be evaluated. Then, amongst other smaller cases, are the very sad incidents of plane crashes which have been in the press. Are you ready and do you have the cover if and when you receive a writ or summons claiming your culpability and claiming massive damages?
Going back to the subject of this article and my earlier comments… are you protected, and do you have the cover? If you have one of the local standard Public Liability policies, the answer is almost certainly ‘No’. It will provide you with Public Liability only. So, if someone walks into your office and trips over a wire, then yes, the policy will pick up your legal liability. It will not however, cover you for any of the above issues and you will be hopelessly exposed.
If you want to sleep at night and be fully protected, please check and ensure you have an extension of cover or a separate policy called Professional Indemnity, sometimes called Tour Operators Liability. Make sure it is at a sensible limit and you do not skimp on this…for you this is the most vital cover you can have.