follow us
Planning your next holiday? Find an ATAS accredited agent here » ATAS Logo

Register

If you're a new user and do not yet have a username/login.


Register Now

Participant Zone

Accredited ATAS participants click here for access to the secure business support area.

My AFTA

Returning users log in to commence or access your ATAS application.

My AFTA Login

News Hub

« Back

What happens when the client turns on you?

Often things go wrong when your clients travel. Unfortunately, sometimes they lay the blame squarely at your feet – whether you are responsible or not.

Are you covered when things go wrong?

What happens if you find yourself in this situation? We look at scenarios where you are accused of Professional Negligence. Below we will discuss the importance of Professional Indemnity Insurance along with some practical guidelines that you can follow once an incident arises which may give rise to a claim.

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).

One very important point to remember about your Professional Indemnity Policy is that it is on a “Claims Made” basis. This means that you must have a policy in place when a claim is made and not when the failure occurred. Sometimes there can be a large gap in time between when the actual or alleged failure occurred and when the claim is first brought against you.

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 on 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.

  • 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.

Practical Tips – When an incident does occur
  • It is imperative that you inform your Insurance Broker as soon as you become aware of a circumstance that may lead to a claim.

  • 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 prior to 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.

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 rfleming@gowates.com.au to discuss your circumstances or to obtain a quotation.

Gow-Gates Property report here

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.