A client was robbed on vacation. Now they’ve threatened to sue their advisor.: Travel Weekly

Mark Bystrunk

Mark Bystrunk

s: A client of our travel agency was robbed at gunpoint while on vacation on a Caribbean island. Now the client is threatening to sue our agency for failing to warn of theft risks. It turns out that the State Department had a travel advisory that covered crime on the island, and the warning warned against walking alone in the city where the crime occurred. We had no idea of ​​this danger, but the client’s attorney claims we have a legal duty to read State Department guidance and warn of the dangers of burglary on the island. do you agree?

a: The lawyer’s position is absurd. No travel advisor is expected to read, remember, and be warned of all the risks contained in every State Department travel advisory.

The State Department’s travel website has reports on 210 countries. Every country has a safety rating from Level 1 (“Exercise normal precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do not travel”). Within countries, levels can increase or decrease depending on the local area, so keeping all this information in memory and disclosing it appropriately would be impossible.

A travel advisor has a legal duty to warn of the dangers of a destination, but the duty is much more limited than the client’s attorney claims. Applies to destination or supplier risks that are known to the travel advisor or should be known to the travel advisor based on what has appeared in the trade press, including articles in the trade press about changes in State Department guidance.

In other words, the travel advisor is required to disclose relevant information from the trade press, and that information could include articles on State Department travel advisories. Conversely, if the business press does not cover a risk, and if the advisor has no other knowledge of it, it is not the duty of the advisor to warn the client.

Even so, the chancellor’s duty to disclose is subject to three exceptions.

First, the danger must be inconspicuous. For example, even on a low-crime island, you should never leave your jewelry in an unlocked room safe.

The second exception is the situation where the risk or danger is widely reported in the public media so that the customer would normally know about it anyway. For example, when all the newspapers were reporting on the Icelandic volcano that grounded all flights to Europe, you wouldn’t have to reveal the situation to a customer who wanted to fly to Europe the next day.

Third, there is no duty to warn that the client already knows what they want and the role of the counselor is simply to carry out or carry out the client’s instructions. It’s typical on business trips, where the customer says, “I’d like you to book the first flight tomorrow to Mexico City, and come back on the last flight the next day.” Obviously, the client does not expect the travel agent to warn of crime in Mexico, and the advisor has no legal duty to do so.