Case dismissed: “I feel that the insurance is useless”

Marcel Meth’s wife and daughter had plans to visit his recently widowed sister-in-law in Minnesota. As a precaution, they bought a travel insurance policy through Access America.

But they bought the wrong policy.

“Four days before my wife and daughter were to leave for Minnesota, my sister-in-law called us and told us that her son was hospitalized and that he would be remaining in the hospital for a week or more,” he says. “In response to this, my wife needed to cancel the vacation. We obtained all the necessary documentation and filed it with the Access America. They immediately denied the claim, saying that the reason for hospitalization was not covered by the policy.”

I know what you’re thinking. Ah, yet another cautionary tale about travel insurance!

But I think this one is worth taking a closer look at, for a few reasons. First, it exposes the limits of the average policy. And second, it raises questions about the overall effectiveness of travel insurance.

First things first. Why did Access America say “no” after the initial claim? Apart from the unspecified medical reason (more on that in a moment) there was the issue of who was covered, according to Meth.

The insurance would only cover my wife, but not my daughter, since the relative was my daughter’s cousin.

Cousins are not covered on the policy, according to the insurance agent.

That’s an issue I don’t run into very often with travel insurance, and certainly worth taking note of. The lesson? Read that policy carefully and make sure you make a claim only when it’s a relative covered by the policy.

For the second issue, I had to ask Access America. What kind of medical reason wouldn’t be covered in the policy? I couldn’t think of one, offhand.

So I asked Access America for a few details. Here’s its response:

The travel insurance policy that Mr. Meth purchased is a “named perils” insurance policy that covers only the specific situations that are “covered reasons” to cancel a trip.

Canceling a trip for any reason other than a “covered reason,” would not trigger coverage under Mr. Meth’s insurance policy.

In addition, like all insurance products, Mr. Meth’s policy included a list of general and specific exclusions for coverage. Among the exclusions listed in Mr. Meth’s policy is “a mental or nervous health disorder (like anxiety, depression, neurosis, psychosis and others) or any related physical complications (physical complication means any physical symptom).”

Exclusions for mental or nervous health disorders are fairly standard in travel insurance policies.

Meth isn’t happy with that explanation.

“I feel that the insurance is useless and would discourage anyone from purchasing insurance from Access America,” he says.

But it isn’t so much that Meth had a useless policy. He may have just had the wrong policy. A more expensive “cancel for any reason” policy, either from Access America or another insurance provider, might have covered this cancellation.

As much as I hate having to move any grievance into the “case dismissed” file, I have no choice on this one. His policy didn’t cover him.

This is yet another good reason to shop carefully for a travel insurance policy. A review of Meth’s policy should have shown that a likely claim would probably not be honored.

That’s too bad. I hate having to tell anyone that they’re out of luck.

(Photo: ktsp/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Brian_in_Wien

    It is better to gain peace of mind and do without travel insurance.  I sleep better at night knowing I won’t have the additional stress of dealing with an insurance representative if something goes wrong in my travels.  In this case, too, they would have done much better without the false security of insurance.

    That said, cancelling because your cousin/nephew is going into the hospital?    I’m not sure why they would think insurance would cover such a thing – perhaps they thought it was a ‘cancel for any reason’-type policy.  Even so, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and money if they had just skipped the insurance.

  • Carver

    “It is better to gain peace of mind and do without travel insurance.”

    That’s certainly a strange perspective.  Peace of mind is obtained because you know that should something goes wrong with you trip you will lose your entire investment  I guess there is something reassuring about the fact that you have already resigned yourself to the loss.

    How about instead educating yourself about travel insurance and your particular policy so there is no false sense of any kind.

  • GeoffDepew

    I think that “canceling the trip because a members of the family who we are visiting is hospitalized” is the sort of thing that insurance of this nature should be covering.

    And it did, but only for one person; they had a relative range and the other traveller was not within the range.

    When I worked for Citigroup, I asked for bereavement time to go to my great-grandmother’s funeral; I was told no, I’d need to take vacation time, because if it was my grandparents, it was okay, but farther back than that was not considered a relevant relative.

  • Brian_in_Wien

    I don’t think you would find it such a strange perspective if you have had to deal with insurance representatives when there is a problem.  Don’t just take my word for it, though, this website is filled with stories of people who thought they were covered and depended on that coverage only to find the insurance company was able to wriggle out of its obligation.  The worst example is the people who had the ‘cancel for any reason’ policy who were denied coverage when they cancelled.

    Just as studies have shown that it does not pay to buy the extended warranty on electronic items, I suspect the same would be true of travel insurance if it was studied.  For me, though, the aggravation factor of having to deal with an insurance company is enough reason to avoid it.

  • Tom

    Easy solution — buy a refundable ticket. It doesn’t make sense to buy a non-refundable ticket and then also buy insurance to cover you in case you need a refund.

    I was also curious why they needed to cancel the trip anyway. Seems if the sister in law had a child in the hospital, their visit would be comforting. They could visit the kid in the hospital too. It might not be a thrilling as visiting the Mall of America, but it would probably mean a lot to the sister and her child that family rallied around them.

  • Tom

    There are parts of Minnesota where you would be very popular if your name was “Mr. Meth.”

  • Raven_Altosk

    I don’t know that “cancel for any reason” would’ve covered this as the ill person is not an immediate family member in the traveling party. 

    A cousin at the destination who is ill? Yeah, that wouldn’t make sense for an insurance company to cover, period.

  • Chris in NC

    or don’t buy insurance, and pay the $150 change fee if you need to defer your trip! Think of the $150 change fee as a type of “insurance”

    or better yet! Fly Southwest (if available) and reschedule your trip without a change fee!

    of course, all of the above is assuming that he is flying!?

  • Chris in NC

    as much sense as it does to cover a neighbor, a pet hamster, goldfish, etc.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    According to Access America’s response, the “kid” was being hospitalized for a mental issue.  Such hospitals limit visitor access; his own mother will have a tough time getting in to see her son.  The mother may be required to participate in family therapy sessions.  (I know all this from personal experience.)  It’s really tough to entertain guests, no matter how closely related, when your own child is in that situation.

  • sirwired

    “Should they have covered the claim”?  Of course not.  The exclusions are there for a reason and the policy is priced with the actuaries knowing the exclusions are in place.  The claim denial should not have been a surprise; the Access America policies are actually quite easy to read and the exclusions quite clear.

    If you want more flexibility, book more flexible vacations and/or purchase a more complete policy (which almost all trip insurance providers sell.)

    I will mention that I would never have bought insurance for a simple domestic itinerary; the financial risk just isn’t high enough to justify the bother, at least for me. It’d be like buying an extended warranty on my $50 DVD player… I can bear the risk myself it’ll die prematurely.

  • sirwired

    I’ve seen a LOT of articles here, and I don’t recall one that was about a claim denial for a Cancel For Any Reason policy.  Do you have a link?  The only possible reason to deny such a claim would be because some policies have a 48-hour pre-trip cutoff.

    An insurance company enforcing the clear, not difficult to find or read exclusions in a contract, which is what happened here, is not “wriggling” out of a claim.

    And I think the insurance companies themselves would readily admit that they make a profit on insurance by collecting more in premiums than they pay in claims; that’s what they’re in business for!  That’s how insurance works; in return for the payment of a premium, the insurance company protects the policyholder from risks they would prefer not to bear themselves.  They earn a profit in return for providing this service, just like your car insurance company, life insurance, health insurance, etc.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve filed five trip insurance claims in the last ten years and not had a single denial, appeal, or even request for additional paperwork.  They’ve ranged from $200 up to $4000.  One hurricane, one medical treatment, a cruise line bankruptcy, a medical cancellation, and a trip return delay due to weather.

  • sirwired

    “Any Reason” is just that, Any Reason.  You can say anything you like, up to, and including, “I don’t feel like going any more.”

  • Maisyet39

    If purchased from an agent, the agent should have gone over the insurance policy with the client. Policies, at best, are often difficult to read and understand. 

  • Crissy

    In terms of not covering because of the type of illness, you can’t fault Access America.  We don’t know what the illness was or if it could have been predicted, but that might be a factor in the insurance they purchased.

    As for not covering the daughter because it’s a cousin, I would accept that if the daughter had bought the insurance independently.  However, it seems that the parents bought it with their own insurance and obviously they’re not going to send the daughter by herself and so anything that could have been applied to the parents should have been applied to the daughter too.

  • Carver

    Sometimes a refundable ticket is a small cost over, sometimes it represents a huge differential.  You just have to do have to do the math.

  • Anij

    couldn’t you find a better picture of Minneapolis?

  • Guest

    Life happens.  You can never insure for everything, trying will just frustrate you.

  • Gubby

    A refundable ticket?  Why that would be sensible.  We’re a society of whiners.  I want to pay for a Kia but I demand you treat me like I bought a Mercedes.  

    The fact that the OP didn’t want to visit a sick kid says a lot.

  • Kairho

    Sometimes you just cannot win, Chris!

  • Christopher Elliott

    If you have one, I would be happy to use it.

  • Peg

    Just Minneosta?

  • Shishibeach

    Cancel for Any Reason is the insurance policy I bought when travelling to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – if our daughter had ended up not competing for whatever reason (not qualifying, injury, whatever) we would not have wanted to make the trip.  That insurance was worth the money in “peace of mind” coverage, but under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t buy it – and definitely not for a trip to visit my sister in the states.  It probably would be cheaper to make a change to the plane tickets.

  • Brooklyn

    Out of curiosity: do you always buy “cancel for any reason” policies?  And do you find that over the years, you’ve paid more or less in premiums than you’ve recovered from claims?

  • Brooklyn

    What percentage of the cost of the airfare was the insurance premium, and did it make a difference how long before the trip you bought the insurance?

  • SoBeSparky

    Insurance policies are complete fog disguised as words.  That is why we have insurance departments in 50 states, to create standardized policies so you can compare them, roughly.  Your auto collision policy is pretty much the same from insurer to insurer.

    However, your travel policy is different every time, or so it seems.  So you must read fog.  Go ahead, enter it into the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

    These policies are so much smoke (or fog) and mirrors.  Until they are regulated federally, as they overwhelmingly cover interstate commerce, they are designed as “heads companies win and tails, the customer loses.”

  • Alan

    When the travel industry abandoned customer service, they told us “No problem – just buy insurance!”

    Cautionary tales like this one need to be publicized more widely.

  • Geoff

    Did Meth by the policy from an agent or on-line? I explain what is covered and do not sell certain policies. Access pays 70% or so back on the any reason cancellation, but it depends upon what you pay as to whether it is worth the extra premium. Use ASTA agent that are in your line of vision, then there is a responsibility trail.

  • guy999

    i try to make sure to read all of the information on every travel policy i’m looking at.  I find that works better.  Last time I read about 9000 pages before my trip.  I had to quit my job but I was able to get a good travel policy.

    thank you access america for only writing 80-90 page long policies, my cats really liked that I was able to stay home for so long.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go on the trip because after I didn’t have a job, I couldn’t afford the trip.

  • Mark K

    Do you have auto insurance? Homeowner’s or renters insurance?  Medical insurance?

    I think that most people who have any or all of these types of insurance will find they have paid the insurance company more over the years that they have received in claims.  And I believe that is a good thing because it means a catastrophic thing has not happened requiring a claim to be filed.  But isn’t it better knowing that if something bad does happen, at least a part of it is covered? 

    I look at travel a bit differently than normal insurable situations.  If I am flying somewhere in the US I know my other insurance will cover most anything that happens and don’t buy coverage for the airfare because I can afford to lose the few dollars that it costs.  For international travel, I always buy the most coverage that I think is affordable and that covers the most situations.  I have never had to make a claim, but knowing that I am covered for most things that could go wrong is a lot better feeling than feeling I would be left stranded.

  • Geoff

    I do use cancellation insurance every time that I travel and have had to file 2 x”s in 1 year. Spent 400.00 on 6 trips and got back 3000.00 from the company. That is what it is for.

  • Brian_in_Wien

    Here are four of Elliot’s articles dealing with problems with “Cancel for Any Reason” policies:

    Here are two comments.

    From Raven (I believe this is what I was thinking of):
    Their “insurance” or “protection plan” is useless. Just ask my friend who was conned by Carnival’s rep into buying the “cancel for any reason” plan. My friend found out she was pregnant two months later (unplanned) went to cancel the vacation since Carnival wouldn’t tranport her anyway in her third trimester and was told, “Oh, pregnancy isn’t a reason to cancel even though our plan is ‘cancel for any reason’ and we won’t let you on the ship anyway.”Carnival: The get an abortion or we keep your money cruise line!**

    From Joshua Z.:**”I’ve used Access America for flight insurance on a trip I took a few years ago to Costa Rica and Panama. I mainly chose them as they had a “cancel for any reason” plan where I could cancel the flight and get 75% of the money back. I ultimately had to cancel the flights as the trip dates changed and we could not change the flights. However, once I canceled the itinerary, it took several months and a letter to them to get them to pay us. They could not confirm that the itinerary was canceled. I ultimately sent them a letter with screenshots of the page saying the itinerary didn’t exist, the seatmaps showing that my selected seats were now empty, and even the new itinerary for my trip, which I would not insure. They finally paid us, but I still don’t believe it was worth all the hassle.”**

  • Mark K

    The cost of refundable tickets is in the range of $1000 more than most nonrefundable coach tickets.  I would think hat even the most generous insurance as far a coverage for payment goes would cost a whole lot less than that for a domestic flight.  Sure, buying a fully refundable ticket means no hassles if you decide not to travel, but most people simply don’t have that much extra money laying around to give to an airline.

  • sirwired

    I do not personally buy Cancel for Any Reason policies; I feel the standard Named Perils policies provide sufficient coverage for me.  But I also recognize the limitations of a Named Perils policy, and you won’t see me writing in because the insurance company denied a claim because of a clear exclusion.

    Over the years, I’ve certainly collected more in claims than I’ve paid in premiums, but I also recognize that I’m an outlier in that regard; I would still purchase insurance even if, to date, I hadn’t filed a single claim.

    Financially, I could have absorbed any one of those claims (not without being more than a bit annoyed, but it would not have destroyed my finances either.)  But I know that when my Dad needed to go in for emergency bypass surgery it was a great relief to my parents to know that the only cost for my wife and I when we cancelled our vacation to help them out was the cost of the insurance premium and a $75 fare difference for the reschedule.  We would have cancelled with or without the insurance but my parents didn’t have to feel guilty about it in the least.  (And, as a side note, the claim was paid in three weeks, in full, without any fuss whatsoever by TravelGuard, our insurer.)

  • sirwired

    With that article, it came down to the travel booking agent that sold the policy mis-representing it (no Cancel for Any Reason policy provides a 100% cash refund… this is for obvious reasons if you stop to think about it); that’s not the fault of the policy or the insurance company.  And they weren’t denied coverage at all; rather the amount of the payment was less than what the traveler had been told by somebody other than the insurance company.

    With Raven’s friend:  Without more information I have a feeling there may have been a (eventually resolved) miscommunication.  Many trip policies provide 100% cash refunds for medical cancellations, and lesser credits (or refunds) for Any Reason cancels.  If, through wires being crossed, the insurance company thought she was trying to make a 100% cancellation claim, they are going to deny.  If it is clear that you are making an Any Reason claim, there should be no hassle at all; “I don’t want to go any more.” is a perfectly sufficient excuse.  Personally, I don’t trust Raven “Mexico is a uniformly evil cesspool of Crime and Violence that you should never visit” Altosk to provide the complete story about anything.

    For the last one: Yep, any insurance company is going to want to confirm that your trip is canceled before they pay a cancellation claim.  You, saying over the phone, that it’s canceled, is certainly not enough.  It sounds like the problem may have been with the airline, not coughing up a statement to that effect when needed.  I recall another comment about a customer trying to file a claim for a weather cancellation and couldn’t get JetBlue to cough up a form stating this, yet the policyholder blamed the insurance company for not paying.

  • sirwired

    You should try and read a trip insurance policy sometime.  They are written in plain English, with no confusing legalese as to what is and is not covered.  So, for that matter, is my Auto and Home policy.

    BTW, Trip Insurance, alas, does not use standard policy forms as with Auto and Home.

  • LZ

    I travel regularly, both for business and for pleasure. Access America does have “cancel for any reason” policies (which Meth should have bought) but they, too, have limitations.

    Both Access and Berkley Care have been completely straightforward with me during every step of the purchase and claims processes. As it happens, I have had to cancel a couple of VERY costly adventure trips, and if one does one’s homework, buys the appropriate policy, and submits all the documentation as required, they pay,. It’s just that simple.

    Of course, there are times when the policy one needs is just not available at any cost. Then it’s up to the traveler to decide what his/her risk tolerance is.

    I agree with the respondent below. As a consumer, one needs to ask questions. Access America would have no reason to intuit that Meth would need to have EVERY option presented. It was his responsibility to inquire, not to kvetch after the fact. Bet he won’t make the same mistake again!

  • Carver

    Unfortunately thinking of the $150 change fee as insurance doesn’t really work.  It won’t get you a refund on your airfare.  At best a voucer to be used within a yearl

    It won’t help with any nonrefundable lodging as well

  • Michael K

    I’ve seen a LOT of articles here, and I don’t recall one that was about a claim denial for a Cancel For Any Reason policy.


    sirwired: Check out Aug 5 2010.  “Cancel for any Reason” policies are a misnomer.  They often have plenty of excluded reasons AND they generally exclude cancellations in the final days before departure.

  • Lindaj

    This is another example of “read the fine print.”  I always buy insurance for big trips out of the country and there are so many “small details that you have to make sure are covered.  It isn’t just a “click and buy, one policy fits all” transaction.  It can be very confusing, but ask questions before buying. Plan for all contingencies!

  • bc

    Looking at the pole results pretty much affirms there are certain readers here that will pretty much vote YES (complainant should have received more compensation and/or Chris should mediate the complaint) regardless of the facts presented. 

    This is a pretty clear cut case where the consumer had a policy which covers specific reasons for cancelling their trip, their reason was not covered, so they were denied. At what point do you start making people accountable and stop looking at companies as charities that should pay out any claim because it’s the “right thing to do”? 

    And is it really, “the right thing”? If you had a contract with a company and the other party came to you and said we perform the contract exactly as described but close enough so we want you to pay us anyways. What would you say?

  • Michael K

    Except for the many paragraphs of fine print that lists excluded reasons (which don’t count as “any” reason)  and excluded time-frames.  Your advice will help others fall into one of those “gotcha” traps.

  • Alexmaiero

    I understand the OP’s frustration but no I don’t think the
    insurance company should have honored his claim. I agree insurance policies are
    notoriously hard to read and I agree insurance companies sometimes to their
    utmost to wiggle out of covering someone. But that doesn’t absolve the person
    buying the coverage from personal responsibility. When you buy something like
    insurance you have to do your research, which doesn’t mean you need to spend
    half your life reading a 1000 page document. Talk with an agent about your
    needs so they can recommend the best policy, ask questions about what is and
    isn’t covered, and yes at the very least skim over the document you are

    While I sympathize with the OP the insurance company didn’t
    do anything wrong. He never claimed they misled him about what was covered and
    the denial was based on his policy’s limitations. He bears personal responsibility
    for buying a policy that didn’t suit his needs. If the insurance company/agent
    misled him or encouraged him to buy a product that did not meet his needs then
    I would agree that the insurance company would bear some of the responsibility for the situation but there is no
    indication in the column that this is the case.

  • Michael K

    Even the “plain English” Access America “policy” (around 10 pgs of small print) that you are allowed to read before purchase (only if you click through some tiny, not-so-prominent links) says this:

    This outline of coverage 
    provides  a  very  brief  description  of  the  important 
    features  of  the  accident  and  health  benefits  ONLY  of 
    your Policy. This is not the insurance contract and only 
    the actual Policy provisions will control. The Policy itself 
    sets  forth,  in  detail,  the  rights  and obligations of  both 
    You  and  Your  insurance  company.  It  is,  therefore, 
    important that you READ YOUR POLICY CAREFULLY!

  • Michael K

    I meant to add: the contract referenced here is NOT written in what most people would call plain English.

  • Steve R

    I have a couple of thoughts here. One is that I’m not sure why they bought travel insurance in the first place; presumably, the only non-refundable part of the trip would be the plane tickets (and I’m assuming this is a domestic flight, so we’re not talking thousands of dollars). Four days advance notice is almost always enough to cancel a hotel room, assuming they didn’t book a prepaid, nonrefundable room.

    The second is about the coverage itself. It makes sense to me that the policy they bought might not cover hospitalization of a relative who is not traveling with them. However, IMHO it’s ridiculous that they are allowed to write a policy which supposedly covers medical cancellations but excludes mental health. That would be like writing a policy that covers you if you cancel because you broke your right leg, but not if you break your left leg. It’s unconscionable. If you’re hospitalized, it shouldn’t matter what for. Again, in this case I understand why hospitalization of the non-traveling cousin isn’t covered, but as I read it, if the OP’s wife or daughter was hospitalized in a psych ward, that wouldn’t be covered either.

  • David

    Just fly Southwest and buy a refundable ticket.  The price differential isn’t that much.  And even with a non-refundable ticket on Southwest, they give you the value as a credit you can use later.   Umm.. that’s why people fly Southwest.

    Oh, make sure you at least get the taxes and fees back on the ‘non-refundable’ ticket.

  • Charles

    I’ve purchased travel insurance for all of my international trips and I can’t recall every paying more than $150 per person. And, I’ve never flown Southwest because they have never once been the least expensive option.

  • Carrie Charney

    Who said she didn’t want to? She “needed” to. Very likely they were asked to cancel because they would not be allowed to visit and the kid’s mother would have her hands full. 

  • davidglass

    Oops. “I’ve seen a LOT of articles here, and I don’t recall one that was about a claim denial for a Cancel For Any Reason policy.”

  • Mbods2002

    Why isn’t hospitalization, due to a mental condition covered?  Sounds totally discriminating to me….

  • SoBeSparky

    Simply wrong, as Michael K below itemizes.  In Florida, you cannot read the policy until you have filled out all forms and given them your credit card number.  Huh?  The Florida Form is 30 pages.  It says in Section 3 that you aren’t covered unless Section 2 (13 pages itself) says you are covered.  So a natural disaster “such as hurricane” in Section 3 is excluded, but weather in Section 2 is included.  An on and on.  Gobbledy gook.  Only a contract lawyer can read this junk and resolve conflicts.  Further, here is a classic exclusion:  “any problem or event that could have reasonably been foreseen or expected when you
    purchased your plan.”

    This stuff is just consumer fraud.  Section two says weather delays are included, Section three says hurricanes are excluded, but then Section two governs.  So why is does Section 3 exclude hurricanes?

  • Blake

    Technically you are right.
    But this is the kind of small-time chiseling that is taken for granted in this time.
    It shows contempt for the customers who don’t bother to to don’t know how to read the small print.
    Most people who buy insurance don’t know what they are buying, And when a claim comes up they are surprised to find that they are not covered.

  • john4868

    Everytime I read one of these I think of the “mayhem” commercials for Allstate.

    Just like in those commercials. You get what you pay for. You buy cut rate car insurance and you won’t be covered for everything.

    Buy cut rate travel insurance and have the same issue. 

  • Bodega

    One thing isn’t clear on this is if both passengers took out the coverage or just the man’s wife.  If both took it out, the daughter may have been able to use the insurance, if the coverage reason was allowed, as she was having to cancel due to the mother’s nephew being sick.  If a travel companion can not travel, you can cancel, but again, the need for the cancellation must be a covered reason.

    I hate all insurance companies and policies, but they are a necessarily evil in this day and age.  I provide clients with the company name, phone number, website, but I won’t do much more than that.  There are too many what ifs and I will not be the go between to figure it out. 

    Travel insurance, health insurance, car insurance have too many exclusions.  We rarely sell insurance for nonrefundabel tickets because the cost is usually close to the change fee and most will reuse the funds for another flight.  If they are medically unable, we write the carrier and refunds are usually given.   

  • Tony A.

    Was buying travel insurance for a domestic flight the right decision?
    I assume that the reason they bought insurance in the first place was because they already had an inkling that something might come up forcing them to cancel the trip. Having said that, why not buy a last minute ticket? At least you are sure you’re gonna use it.

  • DesrtDrmr

    We buy, and have bought from Access America, travel insurance several times.  We think they are great!  However, we need policies that are “cover for any reason” in case my husband is called to work or to testify in court.  We pay a LOT more for this type of insurance.  If you do not read carefully, you might choose the least expensive, and not realize that you are not covered for anything other than is specified in the policy.  This is a definite Buyer Beware type of thing.  When we did have to cancel a trip, and had the “cover for any reason” type of policy, the company honored it and covered our expenses pleasantly and promptly.  I’m sorry these folks had troubles, but they really need to be more careful in their choice of insurance.

  • Linda Bator

    Actually, I have DOZENS of stories that would argue that case.  But as with ANY insurance coverage, it is good for covered reasons only, and when you purchase a policy with limited coverage, you can be left out in the cold.  But when you get the right policy, it can save you THOUSANDS – had all sorts of claims (that were honored in short time, too) for illnesses, injuries, deaths, lost or delayed luggage, stolen goods, etc.  Believe me, you think you don’t need it – but just like health insurance, when you DO need it, the cost of out-of-pocket if you don’t have coverage can bankrupt you.  (Do you have $35,000 for a medivac flight for illness or injury?) 

  • Linda Bator

    Because mental illness isn’t an unforeseen illness or injury, and is a long-term disability.  Problems are ongoing, and as such are considered a permanent condition requiring treatment at any time, whether changes in medication or hospitalization.  (That pre-existing condition!) 



  • Sasha

    I voted yes.  Most of us are not frequent travelers and most travel agents don’t take the time or even know what the insurance policy reads.  I have a homeowners policy and a auto policy that I understand gives me full  coverage as well as replacement coverage on my home and my auto however, I have not read every word on these policies and I am sure that even if I did that I would then understand what the coverage means.  Why would anyone want a travel policy that covers less that cancel for any reason?

  • Vacaygirl

    There are trip protection policy’s out there that allow you to “cancel for ANY reason” up to an hour before departure. Why would you buy anything else?

  • Steve R

    We don’t know the details of this case, but why assume that all mental illness is a pre-existing condition? It has to start somewhere. Maybe the cousin has been in treatment for years, or maybe this was the first incident.

    The way the policy is written, it sounds like it doesn’t matter whether it was a pre-existing condition – it wouldn’t be covered. Again, in this case I’m fine with that because the primary issue was that the cousin wasn’t covered on the policy, as he was not actually taking the trip.

  • gertie 629

    I bought insurance through Travel Guard for an upcoming trip after spending time reading up on policies from several different companies.  One thing that was covered under the policy was having to cancel because you were now required to work during the scheduled trip.  It didn’t require purchasing the extra cancel for any reason.  I haven’t had to use the policy, but you may want to look into them next time.

    What I discovered in reading the policies is that everyone had a different definition of relative, or pre-existing condition and who was covered under it.  I selected the policy I did because my FIL is in poor health due to a pre-existing condition and this policy will cover us if something happens to my FIL and we have to cancel.  The pre-existing condition waiver covers not only the travelers, but travelers relatives not traveling.  Not all plans do!  It just goes back to you have to read the policy.

  • Rvgauerke

    I guess that like with any other purchases, there are varying degrees of quality.  Spending more to get more comprehensive coverage is an option sa is just wagering that nothing will happen and skipping the insurance.
    certainly, read the policy and know what you are getting.

  • Deserttarone

    Chris’s right, you need to check all the coverage information included in a policy before buying it.  Insuremytrip and Quotewright are good web pages that compare companys’ policies and prices in easy to read language with more detailed information available.  We have had to make claims on two occasions in the past (one with AcessAmerica) and have had positive experiences.  We never travel without insurance now that we are a little older and travel is not as reliable as in the past, but we always know ahead of time what we are covered for and what not.

  • Chunk Basker

    Of course the insurance isn’t going to cover cousins… What insurance does? None.