Travel insurance claim denied, denied, denied — oh, never mind!

Here’s a truly strange case, brought to you by the H1N1 virus and our friends at Access America.

You might say Marian Levin’s claim was denied on a technicality. An important technicality that I’ll get to in a moment. But it’s how her problem was resolved that’s even more interesting: Her travel insurance company turned down her claim and a subsequent appeal but then mailed her a check anyway.

All of which goes to show that if you don’t like the first (or second, or third) answer from a travel insurance company, just keep asking.

Levin explains what happened to her:
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Help, my travel insurance company won’t answer the phone!

wallIt’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: You’re in trouble, so you reach for your phone to call your travel insurance company. The line rings. And rings. And rings.

No one answers.

This nightmare scenario happened to David Miller when his travel documents went missing. He tried to call Access America through its collect number. No one was home.
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Claim denied on a terrorism technicality

delhiQuestion: My travel insurance claim has been denied, and so have my appeals. I hope you can help us.

My husband and I were scheduled to visit India last Thanksgiving, the day after the horrific terrorist event began. British and Americans were being singled out and murdered, hotels were being burned, and threats were made of hijacking and attacks on airports and train stations in the country.

We were terrified of the unfolding events, and canceled our travel plans. We had purchased a travel insurance policy through Access America. One of the named perils is a terrorist event.

Access America has denied our claim because we were scheduled to travel to New Delhi, and the hotel that was under siege was in Mumbai. I believe that the definition of destination — according to their policy and the online dictionary — includes the entire country. Plus, as part of the terrorist activity, impending threats were made to airports, train stations and other places throughout India.

We’ve lost about $7,300. Is there anything you can do? — Diane Gandara, Napa, Calif.

Answer: I agree with your definition of a destination. Access America should have refunded the money you spent on your vacation.

Why didn’t it? I asked the company, and a representative told me that in order to make a successful claim, the terrorist event would have to occur in the city you were traveling to. Since you were on your way to Delhi, not Mumbai, the claims examiner was technically correct to deny your request.
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What to do when a Swiss collection agency demands $3,810 from your girlfriend

zermattIt might be something of an understatement to say that the ski trip that Victor Thomas and his girlfriend Susie took in Zermatt, Switzerland, two years ago, did not go as planned.

On her first day on the slope, Susie fell and shattered her lower leg. She spent the rest of her vacation in the hospital.

Good thing Thomas had bought travel insurance through Access America — or so he thought.
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“I have argued my point to deaf ears”

celebrity cruiseIs the Jones Act a legitimate reason for a travel insurance company to deny a claim, or a convenient excuse? Depends on your perspective.

The Jones Act prohibits foreign-flagged cruise ships from transporting passengers between two ports within the United States. And if you’re Mariann Cutroneo, it’s a cop-out. She and a friend recently missed their Celebrity Alaska cruise because of a mechanical problem with a flight, and were unable to meet the ship at the next port. Her travel insurance company paid her $150 in compensation — just a fraction of the cost of her vacation.

If you’re Access America, it’s a legitimate reason to deny her claim. Not only is the Jones Act a strictly-enforced law, but there’s a provision in its insurance contract that addresses a Jones-related cancellation.

So who’s right?
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Is this a good time to find a great travel deal? Strangely, the answer is …

Maybe, according to the latest survey by Access America. Asked if they believed this was a good time to find “great travel deals” a majority of respondents — 40 percent — said they “somewhat” agreed. Only about a third of the respondents strongly agreed.

While the poll shows most Americans think bargains are out there, a closer look at the data suggests that travelers in the know may be holding on for prices to drop further.
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