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Travel Insurance

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to his answer of 18 March 2003, Official Report, columns 677–78W, on insurance, if he will provide a breakdown of the numbers of complaints about travel insurance from customers sold their policies by (a) tour operators and (b) travel agents and insurance companies; [107525](2) pursuant to his answer of 18 March 2003,

Official Report, columns 677–78W, on insurance, if he will provide an interim answer on representations he has received regarding regulation of the sale of travel insurance; [107524]

(3) pursuant to his answer of 18 March 2003, Official Report, columns 677–78W, on insurance, if he will include in his response to the report from the Financial Services Authority a requirement upon companies selling travel insurance to itemise charges made to the customer and the cover purchased at the time of purchase; [107523]

(4) what assessment he has made of the benefits to consumers of having different systems of regulation for the sale of travel insurance by (a) tour operators and travel agents and (b) insurance companies; [107527]

(5) what measures he intends to take to ensure that consumers are protected from the mis-selling of travel insurance by travel agents and tour operators; [107528]

(6) what steps he will take to bring the sale of travel insurance by travel agents and tour operators within the scope of the Financial Services Authority regulations; [107529]

(7) what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Association of British Tour Operators code certified by the Financial Services Authority will protect consumers from the mis-selling of travel insurance by travel agents and tour operators. [107526]

The Government's consultation document "Regulating Insurance Mediation" sets out three options in respect of travel insurance sold as part of a package—Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulation; no regulation; and industry specific regulation where sellers of travel products would be required to be authorised by the FSA unless they are subject to an Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) code.In taking our decision, we have to strike the right balance between the perceived benefits of creating a level playing field for firms selling the same product, together with evidence of consumer detriment, for example in the number of complaints, against the perceived regulatory costs placed on travel agents for whom travel insurance forms a very small part of turnover, and the numbers of travel policies sold.I will announce my decision about the regulation of travel insurance sold as a package with a holiday, together with the other aspects of the consultation on insurance mediation, in the second quarter of the year. Information received in respect of complaints will be included in the summary of responses that will be placed in the Library at the time of the announcement.