Martin's response to Times story about TIF, Holidaysafe and MSE
The Times has an upsetting article today about travel insurer TIF. It includes reports such as one of its customers needed to be medically evacuated from the Canaries, and their family (rightly by the sound of it) was deeply unhappy with its treatment.
They've complained to the General Medical Council, which considers all complaints for investigation. Sadly, I wish it was the only insurer we'd ever heard complaints about.
Yet the sidebar story, about me and MSE, is disingenuous. One of TIF's brands, Holidaysafe, has been listed in MSE's 'cheapest no-frills' travel insurers picks for six years. It's also been on Which? and has a high Defaqto rating.
MSE has always been open that, where possible, we have paid links: we indicate them with a star! Our editorial code means all articles' top picks are based on journalistic ranking only, not payment – explained here.
The Times headline and intro – "Money guru took commission for plugging insurer" – falsely makes it sound like I've personally taken a bung. I take that seriously and we'll be contacting The Times. MSE is a company, part of a PLC (MoneySupermarket Group), with around 100 staff – I'm the Exec Chair.
The Times never indicated it'd make this story about me. It's been dealing for weeks with MSE's Editor-in-Chief Marcus Herbert, though in the piece just refers to him as an MSE "spokesman". It only published a snippet of Marcus' response - here's the full thing which I think explains our stance well…
MSE Editor-in-Chief's response
MSE Editor-in-Chief Marcus Herbert said: "It sounds like your journalism has uncovered some serious and concerning allegations about how Holidaysafe's parent company has handled some specific cases. We understand how distressing and upsetting it must be for those involved, and we will monitor closely the outcome of any FCA and GMC investigations.
"Holidaysafe Lite has been one of our picks in our 'cheapest no-frills travel insurance' category for a considerable time. When you brought these problems to our attention, we surveyed our users (1,100 responded) to find out if the issues were systemic, and how it compared to other 'no-frills' insurers. The feedback has been that for claims handling, Holidaysafe is no better or worse than the other providers, and in fact 84% of those who've used Holidaysafe said they would again – the highest rating for any of this type of company.
"We're very clear that our no-frills policies are, well, no frills – they're just there to be "the cheapest policies, that meet our minimum cover criteria", rather than our other category of higher-level policies which include feedback and past payout records. Of course, they're far from perfect – which is why we also explain what to do if you're unhappy and how to take on these insurers if needed.
"Put simply though, we don't currently have any evidence that Holidaysafe, for the majority of its customers, is any worse than any other no-frills provider, and it's cheaper. Though, like you, we'd robustly try and help anyone who has been treated unfairly.
"You did mention there have been more negative than positive comments about Holidaysafe in our forum, but frankly, in a forum you tend to find the balance of comments are negative about most product providers (not just within insurance) – that's why we did a wider survey.
"We will, of course, continue to review its listing, in light of anything else we learn, as our job is to try and provide the best route through the imperfect industry that insurance is."
Update Fri 23 Nov: As a temporary precaution on Wednesday we removed Holidaysafe from our guides. We will review if and when there are further developments.
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