ASK TONY: We cancelled our Greek villa but insurer refused to pay the bill

My husband and I booked and paid for a villa for a week in Corfu, and invited our four daughters and families to join us at our expense.

The villa cost £2,391. We paid £96 for insurance with Get Going. The villa company asked for a list of guests who were likely to be staying.

Unfortunately in May last year my husband, aged 89, was diagnosed with bowel cancer and needed an urgent operation, forcing us to cancel.

A reader has been left out of pocket after bring forced to cancel a villa holiday in Corfu after her husband was diagnosed with cancer

The villa company returned £717, leaving £1,674 outstanding, which we claimed on our travel insurance.

Having seen the list of people who were likely to be staying at the villa, the travel insurer has only paid £478, and says the rest of the party must claim on their insurance.

We paid for the holiday, so how can they claim without this being fraudulent, especially as not all of the named people were able to come?

E. and R. C., Gwynedd

This style of group booking where mum and dad pay for the villa in order to lure their children on a holiday is common — Mrs H and I regularly do it.

I always make sure our youngsters have their own cover for medical emergencies, but is this necessary for booking costs?

Martyn James, of free complaints website Resolver, says: ‘Looking at contracts and cancellations, it’s true that individual claims must be made for each person on a group holiday if they are insured separately, but in my view this is largely irrelevant in this case.

‘The consumer is not claiming for a non-related person from the group, and it doesn’t really matter if two people are staying or 200. 

‘They paid the full sum for the villa and they are claiming for their costs back. I can’t see how they can be given a reduced pay-out under these circumstances.’

The Financial Ombudsman Service takes a similar tack, though there are no published decisions on its database.

A spokesman says: ‘Consumers should check to see what their insurance policy says in the cancellation section. Usually it says that the provider will pay the insured consumer’s costs. If the insured party paid for the whole holiday, then their costs are for the whole holiday and not just a proportion of it.’

In a nutshell, if you pay for a holiday for your family and your insurance policy says your holiday costs will be paid for in the event of cancellation, then the firm should cough up the whole amount. If, on the other hand, the costs have been split between several people then each should claim separately.

But the key with family holidays is to look carefully at the policy’s wording and, if you are unsure, confirm with the insurer that it will cover all of your costs before buying the policy.

Travel Claims Facilities, part of Travel Insurance Facilities, handled this claim.

It paid out a total of £1,012.26 (after a £200 excess) for the flights and a proportion of the villa hire (£478), which it had split among the seven listed as staying there.

TCF says the claim was assessed correctly in line with its policy wording. However, it has decided to reimburse the other £1,196 as a goodwill gesture. 

It will also be looking at how it can amend the policy wording to ‘improve the clarity of this type of claim and prevent any future confusion’.

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. 

Here are some about our article exposing Santander’s latest changes to its flagship 123 current account. 

I was very disappointed to hear that Santander has reduced the interest rate on the 123 account to 1 per cent, when it was originally 3 per cent. 

Perhaps it should rename it the Three-To-One account!

P. K., Salisbury.

So many ‘bank accounts with benefits’ are no good. They often need you to deposit a minimum amount each month or pay a fee to get discounts on things you wouldn’t buy anyway.

C. S., Gloucester.

I have two 123 accounts, with £20,000 in each. I am going to close one of them, move most of my money into a good easy-access savings account and downgrade to 123 Lite. 

Bye, bye Santander — it was nice while it lasted, but I’m off.

M. T., Buckinghamshire.

When Santander first introduced the 123 account, it will have gained millions of new customers who moved from other banks. 

It’s fair to assume millions will switch away from it now, myself included.

T. K., Prestwick.

Santander should stop paying celebrities to appear in adverts if it can’t afford to pay customers a decent rate. 

Stars such as Ant and Dec are already multi-millionaires. They don’t need our interest as well.

G. N., Scotland.

My wife and I have three 123 accounts between us, with £20,000 in each. We will close two of them and keep £5,000 in the third. 

I am going to put the remaining £55,000 into a savings account. The deal has changed, so we move on.

B. S., Surrey.

Most other banks only pay their current account customers interest on small balances. 

Santander will still pay on up to £20,000, so it is worth checking to see whether there is much to gain by switching.

U. F., Nottingham.

We applied online for the marriage allowance in March last year, for each tax year from 2015/16 to the present. 

This should have given us a refund and altered my husband’s tax code. I phoned HMRC in June, only to be told that our application had not been received, even though we had a confirmation dated March 18.

I wrote to them, as requested, on June 16. On August 5, I received a letter confirming ‘tax return amendment is to be actioned’. 

On August 12, we received an acknowledgement of tax payments of £43.60 and £44.60 made by my husband.

On August 26, he received a demand for £43.60, and on September 10, a refund cheque for £623.65. 

On September 17 and October 23 there were further demands for £43.60. We dread another brown envelope coming through the letterbox.

B. B., Southampton

The marriage allowance allows someone who is a non-taxpayer (a taxable income of less than £12,500 this tax year) to transfer up to £1,250 of their personal allowance to a spouse or civil partner who is a basic rate taxpayer.

This can reduce the couple’s overall tax bill by up to £250 in the current tax year. 

The recipient of the transferred allowance may have an income of up to £50,000 in most of the UK, but only up to £43,430 in Scotland. Claims can be backdated to April 5, 2015.

In your case HMRC admits it got the sums wrong. It has put things right and cancelled the incorrect demands. 

A spokesman says: ‘We are sorry your reader did not receive the high level of service they would expect from us.’

Incidentally, marriage allowance is different from the married couples’ allowance, which can be claimed if one partner was born before April 6, 1935. Couples can’t claim both of these allowances.

Straight to the point 

I ordered a £300 integrated tumble dryer from Robert Dyas on November 13. 

Its website said it was possible to have the old machine removed before installing the new one, but the manufacturer, Hoover, then told me this was not the case. 

I have called both Robert Dyas and Hoover to cancel the order and get a refund, but I keep on getting passed between the two.

M. H., Bicester.

Robert Dyas says it refunded you on December 30. It adds that it can take longer to resolve a query when a third party is involved, so sent a voucher to apologise for the delay and any inconvenience caused.


My wife and I wanted to visit our son in the U.S. for Christmas. But when booking our trip on we accidentally paid twice after the screen froze halfway through. 

Yet despite both bookings being for the same date and airline, Expedia will not refund me around £2,000.

J. S., Harrow.

After I contacted Expedia it asked the hotel and airline you had booked with for a refund. 

The hotel swiftly reimbursed the extra £73 you paid and, after several weeks, the airline finally agreed to refund you the £1,731. 

Expedia advises customers who are unsure if bookings have been confirmed to call 020 3788 0445 before trying again.


My ex-wife and I had a joint Everyday Saver account with Halifax which I decided to close. I asked for her name to be added to a new Reward account — but it is still only in mine. Why?

W. P., Coventry.

Halifax says you were told you and your ex-wife would need to visit a branch to add her. 

As you have mobility problems, Halifax has arranged to visit you both at home.


I am trying to claim back £600 for two Thomas Cook holidays I was due to take, following the firm’s collapse in September. 

Both claims were supposed to be paid by the Civil Aviation Authority in early December but the money has not arrived.

A. T., by email.

The claims were paid on December 4 and December 20. It turns out that you were not checking the correct bank account.


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