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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Sunday, 11 January 2009

Before I left for Hong Kong and Thailand, I obviously checked my Insurance Policy Paperwork - lo and behold I found that I wasn't able to locate any paperwork for the current year - so I was starting to panic.

I had thought that I would not have allowed this to happen as the policy would have automatically renewed and I would have received a policy renewal notification. It now appears that the policy had lapsed and was not renewed – as I also couldn’t find any renewal fees on my credit cards for the renewal period (Sept 2008).

I phoned the 0800-enquiry number on Sunday, 7th December, only to be informed the office by a recorded message that the office was closed – even though I had the understanding it was operational on Sunday between 10am to 4pm.

I phone the 01737-emergency assistance number, and asked the operator to check my policy details. However, the representative could not access my policy detail on the system – re-inforcing my concern that the policy had not been renewed. He explained to call the 0800-number on Monday when the relevant team would be available to assist. As I was departing early on Monday, 8th December, I had to wait until I arrived in Hong Kong to do so.

I phoned on Tuesday, 9th December to the 0800-number and got through to the representative who confirmed my policy had not been renewed and I was not eligible to renew it until I returned to the UK. I explained that I had tried to but the Insurance Teams weren’t able to support my request prior to my departure, and that it was not my fault that the renewal had not occurred. He also advised that having checked my account the automatic renewal flag was not enabled – but the representative could not tell the reason why this flag was changed to this state. I had not made any previous requests not to complete the automatic renewal on my card. I also explained to him that I never received a renewal letter nor received any premium debit on my credit card.

I asked for the matter to be escalated as I was conscious I was exposed without any Travel Insurance cover for my current trip, and the representative spoke to his supervisor who authorised the renewal from the initial renewal date and therefore allowing me to have insurance cover for my trip.

This is an important principle to comment on – the lapse in the quality of service that I received not only meant that I had initially travelled without Insurance cover – but if I had not pushed the renewal, I would have no cover at all for the duration of my trip – something which would have caused me concern and unease.

I am also expensed by the 15-minute roaming mobile phone call to push through the renewal at a cost to me of £21.00 which has now appeared on my mobile bill. Ouch!

When I returned to the UK, I documented the course of events and sent a complaint letter to Amex Insurance Services. Focusing on the issue at hand - that my policy was not automatically renewed without a plausible reason, and a request to refund my calling charge - and a request for AXP to extend the gesture to cover the year's premium - about £40.

I received the response today, and AXP advised that there did appear to be a glitch on the auto-renewal - but they couldn't find out why it didn't occur. They accepted my request to refund the roaming mobile call, but only extended the gesture of 5% of the premium. Pretty mean me thinks - I think that they should do more than that - and I feel I will ask for more!

After all, if I didn't phone and check with them before I left, I would not have any Insurance cover!

We'll see what they respond after my push for more of an explanation!

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