Consumers risk being left high and dry by ticket insurance during the pandemic, Which? finds

Which? research has found consumers could be buying insurance policies for gigs and major events which do not provide them with the Covid cover they would expect. 

Around three in 10 people told Which? they are now more likely to pay for ticket insurance after the pandemic led to mass cancellations of concerts, festivals and sports events. One in five had tickets to an event they could not attend or was cancelled due to coronavirus between April 2020 and May 2021.

In the event of a national or local lockdown or mandatory self-isolation, Competition and Markets Authority guidance suggests that consumers should be able to expect a refund from the ticket provider. In these circumstances, consumers should not need an insurance policy – and only one of the insurance policies Which? reviewed included cover for this.

However, the situation is less clear when consumers are following government advice rather than a legal requirement – such as advice not to travel outside their local area. In these situations, consumers may need insurance to get a refund but some of the policies Which? reviewed do not cover this – creating a risk that some might disregard important health guidance rather than miss an event and lose their money.

Which? asked 2,000 UK consumers what they thought ticket insurance policies would cover them for in terms of Covid-related cancellations.

Four in 10 (41%) consumers believed they would be covered if a national lockdown meant the event could not go ahead as planned, while a third (35%) thought they would be covered if the event could not go ahead due to the event being in a local lockdown area.

A quarter (27%) also thought they would be covered if they were told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app.

In fact, insurance policies do not have to cover these points as the ticket provider should provide a refund regardless of whether the customer has insurance.

One in four (26%) assumed they could claim for a refund if they were advised not to travel due to local lockdown restrictions in their area.

Which? looked at five ticket insurers used by some of the biggest ticketing sites. Almost all of the policies the consumer champion looked at covered consumers if they test positive for coronavirus – but only one in four (25%) people thought this would be the case.

XCover used by AXS had the most comprehensive cover across the categories – refunding customers in all the scenarios Which? looked at.

Aside from TicketPlan and AXS, all other insurance and guarantee providers Which? looked at do not cover consumers if they are told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app. Booking Protect, a guarantee used by Festicket, says consumers would need a positive test to get a refund in this scenario.

And if one of the party tests positive for coronavirus meaning the group no longer wanted to attend, only TicketPlan, Vista Insurance (used by Skiddle) and XCover (used by AXS) would allow them to claim for a refund.

Eventim’s insurance provider, Great Lakes Insurance, specifically states that it does not cover any Covid-related claims – if consumers are looking for Covid cover when booking tickets on the site they would be better off paying for additional cover elsewhere.

It is true that most policies will allow you to claim for a refund if you get coronavirus and can provide a positive test result as evidence. But beyond this scenario, it is important to check each policy’s terms and conditions to see if it is worth paying extra –  and do not take the ticket seller’s wording at the checkout or on promotional banners at face value.

Consumers should not pay extra for ticket insurance on the assumption that it will cover them if an event is cancelled or postponed due to lockdown rules – primary ticket sellers are required by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers to offer refunds in these situations.

Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said: 

“With more and more people tempted by ticket insurance during the pandemic, many don’t know what it would cover them for and could be buying insurance assuming that it covers them for all Covid disruptions.

“Consumers should check the terms and conditions carefully to see if it’s worth buying insurance and should remember that if an event is cancelled or postponed due to lockdown rules, primary ticket sellers have to offer a refund.”

– ENDS – 

Notes to editors 

Which? surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK between 18 and 21 June 2021. Fieldwork was carried out online by Opinium and data have been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).

Read more about what is included in ticket insurance here:

What to do if you need to get your money back for a cancelled event

  • Check your travel insurance if you have it – you might be able to make a claim if you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or need to self-isolate.

  • Contact your ticket seller – primary ticket sellers should offer you a refund if an event is cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus.

  • Think carefully about whether you want your tickets to the postponed event – once you’ve confirmed you want to roll your tickets over, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to change your mind afterwards.

  • If you paid by credit card it may be possible in certain circumstances to make a Section 75 claim to  your credit provider.

Read more about consumers’ rights if they have tickets to a cancelled event here:

Right of replies

Festicket said: Booking Protect offers customers confidence when booking in case they cannot attend the event due to accident or illness. During the pandemic, this coverage has been widened to include Covid-19 protection, which covers customers in the case where they have Covid-19, have unfortunately had a bereavement due to Covid-19, or also if they have been made redundant and have fallen on hard times. This has enabled close to 1,000 customers to obtain full refunds since the start of the pandemic outside of those offered by the Festivals.

Over the next few months, where it is possible that customers will need to provide a negative test to enter an event, Booking Protect provides an important level of protection for any customers who may test positive for Coronavirus. This includes any pre-event rapid test, as well as PCR testing.

Ben Sebborn, CTO at Skiddle said: “While the cover provided by the Skiddle Ticket Refund Protection scheme is now more restricted in respect of Covid-19 disruption, we maintained full cover for as long as possible, covering fans for the whole of 2020.

“Cover for imposed quarantine as a result of Covid-19 was only removed for ticket purchases made on or after 8th January 2021 because the insurers of the scheme (Lloyd’s of London) lost their own reinsurance for such cover.

“If a ticket was purchased before this date, our customers will still be covered for imposed Covid-19 quarantine, also covering any events where dates have been rearranged.”

Gigs and Tours said: Gigs and Tours terms and conditions are accessible via the site homepage and are listed at the time of booking.

Ticketplan is an add-on which is only available at the point of purchase of the ticket(s). The full terms and conditions are initiated and dictated from Ticketplan themselves and can be found on their website.

Vista Insurance liaised with Skiddle on the response.

AXS declined to comment.

Eventim declined to comment.

XCover, Booking Protect, Great Lakes, Gigantic, Ticketplan, See Tickets, Ticketmaster and Ticketline had not responded at the time of publication.

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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