DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: Last year, my wife and I booked a cruise with Seabourn Cruises at a cost of $12,780. I also purchased a travel insurance policy through Travel Insured International.
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter
In November, my cardiologist found blockages in three coronary arteries. After lengthy consultations with him and other doctors, I ultimately concluded that multiple stents were the best option for me. My doctor recommended that I should not travel until this was done.
Regrettably, we had to cancel our trip with Seabourn.
I submitted a claim in late December. Travel Insured International responded to my claim, asking for more information. I provided the documentation. From that point on until mid-March, I received several messages that said, “Thank you for your patience.”
Then I received a call from Travel Insured International asking for the names of all the physicians who saw me in December. She told me, “With this information, I expect that we can clear this up tomorrow.” But months later, I still haven’t received my check. Can you help me get my $12,780 back, please?
— John Schwager, Clyde Hill, Washington
ANSWER: I’m sorry to hear about your health and hope you are on your way to recovery. Travel Insured International should have processed your claim within six weeks, not six months.
Why didn’t it? We know that last December was incredibly busy for travel insurance companies. You had airline meltdowns and a record number of travelers — and travel insurance claims. But I’ve reviewed your claim, as well as the messages between you and Travel Insured International, and I’m not sure if that fully explains the delay.
Travel insurance companies are typically quick to process small claims of several hundred dollars or less. But a five-figure claim like yours would have gotten some extra scrutiny. And you can see that in the back-and-forth between you and the company. They wanted information, more information and then the names of your doctors.
That level of scrutiny comes with the territory. The travel insurance company is just making sure that your doctor really had advised you to cancel your cruise.
Most travel insurance policies cover cancellations for medical reasons. It appears you had a valid reason for canceling your cruise. But your travel insurance company needed to verify it, and it sure took its time doing so.
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When an insurance company drags its feet, you need to determine the status of your claim by periodically contacting the company. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Travel Insured International executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I contacted Travel Insured International on your behalf. You contacted the Better Business Bureau, who also reached out to the company. Within a few days, Travel Insured International promised to pay you, and a week later, you had a check for $12,780.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
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