Do Local Airlines Have Adequate Passenger Insurance Cover?

AIR travel is rapidly becoming very popular in Zambia. This can be seen from increased flights to various routes by Proflight Zambia let alone the coming of yet another local player, Mahogany Airline Zambia.

Many people, especially on business trips find this mode of transport not just convenient but economical.

This year for me started with a number of flights to and from Lusaka and one to Chipata.

My story today arises from my only flight to Chipata with a one engine twelve seater plane by Proflight.

When we were getting into the bus for onward boarding my colleague whispered in my ears “I hope we are not using the one engine plane… ”

On the other hand, another third and final passenger boarding had to be positive “the goodness about this plane is that if there is any problem up there it can land anywhere… ”

Well my trip to the east on a Friday came around the height of the missing Malaysian plane MH370. I am sure many would agree that this time around air passengers are sensitive to the happenings in the aviation industry.

Well our journey commenced and beyond my expectation the two hour trip was smooth all the way except when we were descending to land but we were fore-warned by the pilot.

Our return flight was on Monday 14:20 hours.

We saw the plane land at the small airport and a few minutes later we were on board. Unfortunately the plane developed a fault and all the nine of us were asked to disembark.

Later we were told that for safety reasons the airline would be sending another plane from Lusaka moving our departure time to 18:00 hours. Now this meant I would miss my connecting flight to Ndola.

Another passenger told me how much business he was going to lose as he would miss his meeting with some South Africans who had travelled for that business meeting.

We now had a case against the airline.

As promised the executive jet which only took about an hour to get to Chipata landed and we quickly boarded and took off just before the airport closed at about 18:03. The airline for me organised accommodation at one of the best hotels in Lusaka and put me on the first flight to Ndola.

The following day I was in Ndola with my family but now the question remained on how we would be compensated for this inconvenience.

Contractually spending a night away from home attracts a night allowance in my case. What about my friend who lost so much business by missing an appointment.

Out of interest I checked from life insurers for insurance products available for domestic passengers.

To my amazed I only found overseas cover which is sold to those travelling out of the country (of course personal accident is available on the general insurance side).

This left me with a lot to think about in case of injuries or death to passenger’s personal accident may suffice provided the airline has one but what about covers like loss of business in the case of my friend or inconvenience to passengers and families.

I couldn’t help but also think of possible litigations against airlines from travelling passengers. Perhaps this case provides some opportunities for insurers to think of possible insurance solutions to meet such risks.

As a compliment the airline gave us free return air tickets to any local destination of choice besides apologising in writing.

Yes this action brought some relief to cushion the impact of the inconvenience but what about other risks such as loss of business by my fellow passenger.

As an affected passenger I took time to research on passenger rights under the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which most airlines subscribe to.

“The cost of delays and dissatisfied customers is something that every airline wants to avoid… ” reads in part the vision of IATA website.

This brings me to a conclusion with questions do our airlines have adequate insurance covers in place to protect themselves against the above risks? If so, well and good but if not this is time to critically look at the issue.

The author is a Chartered Insurer with ten years industry experience.

Source : The Times of Zambia

Leave a Reply