Nationwide to end free European travel insurance for FlexAccount customers – The Guardian

Travel insurance

Building society had stopped offering cover to new members but those already signed up retained the perk

Sat 11 Sep 2021 07.00 BST

Nationwide is axing free European travel insurance for the last of its FlexAccount customers who were entitled to the cover via their current account.

The member-owned building society has been contacting customers this week to announce the change, and warning them that they will have to buy alternative cover for any trip they take from 31 December 2021.

For many years the free European travel insurance was a major reason to have one of the society’s Flex current accounts.

Nationwide stopped offering the perk to new customers of its basic FlexAccount in December 2016 but those who had signed up prior to that were able to keep their free European travel cover provided they paid at least £750 a month into the account and filled in an annual declaration disclosing any medical conditions.

From the end of the year, they, too, will lose the cover. Nationwide said it “understood that members may be disappointed by this decision” but that only a quarter of its FlexAccount customers were benefiting from the product.

“We have kept our free European travel insurance in place for longstanding FlexAccount members for five years after removing it for new members in 2016,” a spokesperson said.

“However, with a relatively small proportion of members now meeting the eligibility criteria, we have taken the decision to simplify our proposition and align terms for all FlexAccount members. In light of low usage and the cost of this cover, we will now be removing this insurance at the end of the year.”

While most customers will lose their cover at the end of the year, those who have paid for an upgrade, such as to keep the insurance after their 70th birthday or to cover a medical condition, will still be protected until that expires.

Nationwide is offering a 30% discount on Direct Line travel insurance for its FlexAccount customers affected by the change. However, this may not be the cheapest option for travellers, who should shop around and compare policies and premiums.

Alternatively, customers have the option to upgrade to Nationwide’s FlexPlus account, which offers worldwide travel insurance for the whole family – plus other benefits – but costs £13 a month, or £156 a year.

Those who do shop around for another policy will not find Axa on the list of providers after it announced it will no longer sell its own brand overseas and UK travel insurance policies to new customers.

The insurer said this week that customers who had already bought annual and single-trip policies would not be affected and cover would continue as planned until expiry. But once your cover ends you will no longer be able to renew it.

Axa has taken the decision to “simplify its travel offering”. However, it will continue to underwrite policies provided by third-party partners, including the AA, Abta, Coverwise and the Halifax packaged account.

Axa says it will contact all affected customers and will advise them to visit the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website, where a broker can help them find travel insurance elsewhere.

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