Christmas Holidays are on their way – Are you ready?
Your customers have had a very long year, just like you – and they have long booked their dream vacation to rest and celebrate. Nothing can go wrong, can it?
Also, what happens if you are lucky enough to steal a few weeks vacation – do you have plans in place if something does go wrong?
As a Travel Agent or Travel Wholesaler, you are a specialist in your field. As a consequence, the law requires that you exercise the required skill to an appropriate level expected from such Professionals. Your liability arises when there is a failure to provide this level of skill which could result in an award for damages being given to a third party who suffers the loss.
Professional Indemnity Insurance will pay for the damages awarded against the Insured plus any costs or expenses incurred in defending the claim (subject always to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the actual policy).
Often things go wrong when your clients travel. Unfortunately, sometimes they lay the blame squarely at your feet – whether you are responsible or not.
When your customers have emotionally invested so much in the vacation they have been dreaming of – regardless of how small the issue, it can get blown out of proportion exceptionally quickly. What happens if you find yourself in this situation?
Professional Indemnity - Practical Tips – To avoid an Incident before it happens
- Put all your communications in writing – your terms and conditions, details of what your client has instructed you to do etc. It is hard to argue when the facts are written and documented.
- Communication with colleagues – numerous claims arise when two consultants are involved in one travel program. Each thought the other consultant had addressed the matter which ultimately led to a claim. Document all actions on the same sheet of paper for all to see.
- If you have staff that have left during the year or have been on an extended vacation themselves, check the customer files to make sure everything is in order
- Don’t assume – don’t assume that because one passenger is travelling on a specific passport/visa that their partner will be doing the same.
- Staff Training - ensure that all staff follow standard procedures and that your less experienced staff are supported and educated.
- Checklists and audits – before finalising a booking, a simple process of double-checking even the most basic details such as ticketing dates, deadlines for deposits, confirmation from suppliers, issuing of your terms and conditions to clients - all of these little things can save you from complicated situations that could potentially cost you thousands in time and money.
Professional Indemnity - Practical Tips – When an incident does occur
- You must inform your Insurance Broker as soon as you become aware of a circumstance that may lead to a claim. If you are on holidays, ensure your staff know who to contact in your absence.
- Make detailed notes of any conversations with parties involved while they are fresh in your mind.
- DO NOT admit liability or reply to any letters of demand (other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the correspondence). Forward any such documents immediately to your Insurance Broker for provision to your Insurer.
- You should always seek advice from your Insurer before engaging the services of a solicitor (it is likely that if you have a situation that is covered by the policy they may appoint Lawyers on your behalf).
Remember, should any circumstances arise which may result in a claim, you must immediately notify your insurance broker as any delay in notifying the insurer may result in your insurer refusing to accept your claim.
Holiday Crime – don’t be a victim
With more people crowding into shopping centres over this time of year, ensure that you and your staff follow a few simple procedures:-
- keep all personal property (such as bags, wallets and other valuables) out the back if possible or in a locked drawer. It is unfortunately very common for a group of people to work together to distract workers while an accomplice takes away whatever is in easy reach
- cash should never be left on a desk, even for a moment. If possible, it should be taken immediately to the safe and locked away. When you receive money, always remember to be aware and deal with securing the money as a priority
- don’t assume that it is just groups of walk-ins that can be the problem. Crimes of opportunity can happen at any time, whether it be someone pretending to be a courier, selling something or any other story – remain alert to everyone who enters your premises.
Over the holidays when businesses are closed, there are always increased risks. There are things that you can do that may slow down or deter would-be thieves.
- Ensure that all opening windows, big or small have some sort of locking device on them
- Doors (excluding fire doors) should have deadlocks or deadbolts wherever possible. No lock is burglar-proof, but the better the quality, the more likely to slow down the would-be thief, or make them move on somewhere else.
- Check for signs of tampering and if necessary report the incident to the police. Also graffiti and broken windows should be reported to the police. The more information the police have about what is going on in your area, the better chance they have of protecting you and your business neighbours.
- Alarms are an excellent deterrent – but they are no good if they aren’t turned on! Have a check-list in place for your staff so that the last person leaving knows exactly what needs to be done, for example, check all doors and windows are locked, safe secured, and alarm activated.
- If you don’t have an alarm, a sticker saying that you do can’t hurt!
- External lighting, especially around areas of shrubbery means that there are fewer places to hide
- If shops around you have their lights on during the night, make sure yours are on too – automated timers can help you with this
While you are away
If you are going away, but the business is continuing to run, ensure that the person in charge has:-
- a check-list of how to secure the property
- a contact number for you, your Landlord/Property Manager and your Insurance Broker should something go wrong
If you would like further information, please feel free to contact Rebecca Fleming, Account Manager of our Special Programs Division at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9919 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your circumstances or to obtain a quotation.
General Advice Warning – the information in the above article is intended as a guide only and should not be relied upon without consulting your relevant insurance policy wording and conditions or conversely seeking professional advice from either your insurance broker or insurer regarding a claim or potential loss. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in a denial of a claim or potential loss or a reduction in settlement of a claim or potential loss.