Edinburgh dad accepts RBS £1,000 goodwill gesture following travel insurance dispute after cancer stricken wife had seizure before Mexico trip
Dawn Potter, 40, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer which had spread to the brain about two years ago. She decided to book the trip to Mexico for November 2019 with her husband Alan and their three children after her consultant gave her the go ahead.
The family, who live in Niddrie, paid for their all-inclusive trip to Cancún with £12,000 which was fundraised by family and friends in the community.
A few weeks before the trip, Mr Potter visited the Musselburgh RBS branch to arrange travel insurance. After explaining his wife’s medical condition, he claims staff advised that his wife would need to buy a separate insurance policy given her pre-existing medical condition and that he and his children would still be covered by the policy provided with his bank account.
But after checking in and going through security at Manchester Airport, the family sat down for some breakfast at Frankie and Benny’s when Dawn suffered a seizure. She was taken to hospital where doctors discovered she had developed another brain tumour.
Mr Potter, 48, said: “It happened about 30 minutes before boarding. It was a big shock and not very nice to see.”
Mr Potter was dealt a further blow when the insurer refused to pay out for both him and his three children, as Dawn had been unwell and been in hospital within the year. Dawn’s insurer did pay, but the family say they still lost out on about £10,000.
Mr Potter complained to the financial ombudsman that RBS gave him misleading advice about the travel insurance policy he had taken out through the bank.
But the ombudsman ruled in favour of RBS after finding “conflicting information” between what Mr Potter argued and what two staff members at the branch told their investigator.
One member of staff said she could not remember the conversation but that she would have told him to contact the travel department.
A second member of staff who was present said she did not recall the conversation but that she told Mr Potter to contact the travel department, provided a contact number for them, and gave him a packaged account booklet including further details about the travel insurance.
The ombudsman said this is consistent with what the branch manager said about staff training and is also in line with what the documentation says. The wording of the documents states if a member of immediate family or anyone travelling in your party has been a hospital inpatient, prior to booking the journey, this policy does not cover the subsequent cancellation or curtailment of that journey.
The ombudsman’s report also stated that Mr Potter had made a previous claim on the policy in 2018 but it was declined.
The ombudsman said: “Because of that I think he would have been aware of the importance of checking cover with the insurance company. He would have dealt directly with the insurance company or the travel department in relation to that claim.
“I understand Mr P couldn’t proceed with his holiday and I appreciate he’s spent a lot of money which he didn’t get any value for. So, I can see why he wants to pursue all avenues to try to recover that money. But, having considered everything here, on balance, I’m not persuaded that RBS provided him with misleading advice about his travel insurance cover.”
‘I feel gutted’
Mr Potter does not accept the ombudsman’s decision.
He believes bank staff should have directed him to a phone in branch to call someone directly who handles travel insurance to arrange for a premium that would have covered the whole family.
Mr Potter wants to highlight his own experience to ensure others do not go through the same.
He said: “I am probably not the only one this has happened to and it will probably happen again.
“What hurts the most is the effort of friends and family to raise this money and I feel gutted for them as well, and obviously for my wife. It was her dream holiday and I wanted to make memories.
“We are still not happy about getting the £1,000 but it’s better than nothing.”
A RBS spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Mr Potter and his family at this difficult time and we are always here to offer any additional support.
“Although the policy does not cover pre-existing medical conditions and the ombudsman ruled that the advice given at the time was correct, as a gesture of goodwill we have offered £1000 to Mr Potter.”