Travel insurance customers affected by the Gatwick chaos will be able to make claims for the disruption they have suffered – if this is part of their policy – insurers have said.
But the ABI said the first point of contact for consumers should be the airlines, who have a duty of care to look after their customers “regardless of the exceptional circumstances”.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority said on Thursday the events at Gatwick are considered an “extraordinary circumstance”.
In such circumstances airlines are not obliged to pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the disruption.
But airlines do still generally have a duty of care to customers, which could include giving refunds for cancelled flights, putting people on alternative flights and providing refreshments for those affected by delays, the ABI said.
It made the comments after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he would be talking to the insurance industry to make sure claims are treated reasonably.
— ABI (@BritishInsurers) December 21, 2018
Mark Shepherd, head of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: “Where customers have bought travel insurance which includes cover for disruption they will be able to claim in the usual way.
“This cover typically refunds the cost of things like missed accommodation or car hire overseas.
“The first point of contact for anyone caught up in the Gatwick incident should be the airlines, who have a duty of care to look after their customers and help them make alternative arrangements regardless of the exceptional circumstances.”
The ABI said that, where people have bought travel disruption cover as part of their insurance, they are covered up to the limits stated in the policy for travel disruption.
It said this is generally included within most travel insurance policies, including those bought through packaged bank accounts.
However, travel insurance policies come with different levels of coverage. Some will not include travel disruption but it is generally available as an add-on.
Disruption cover typically refunds the cost of other losses caused by travel delays, such as car hire, accommodation and other travel tickets that customers have not been able to use.
It may also cover reasonable additional costs caused by delays, such as emergency accommodation – once what is on offer from the transport provider has been exhausted.
The ABI said, generally, there is a provision the purchaser must show they have not been able to get compensation from their airline, travel provider or accommodation provider before making an insurance claim.
It said this is to stop people being compensated twice and to prevent airlines absolving themselves of their responsibilities under the law.
Meanwhile, insurer Axa said it had seen a 50% uplift in calls regarding travel cover on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Axa said: “We continue to monitor the situation, providing information and assistance to our policyholders.
“People affected by the drone disruption should seek reimbursement of accommodation costs during the delay from the airline or, if they didn’t travel, a refund of their airfare.”