Why doesn’t travel insurance cover dad’s illness?

When Jessica Kamzik’s father was diagnosed with stomach cancer last summer, there was no question about what she had to do. Dad’s prognosis was “grave” — the doctors said he probably wouldn’t make it to the holidays — and, “as any loving daughter would do, I immediately cancelled our vacation to stay closer to him,” she says.

Good thing she had travel insurance through Access America, she thought. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about losing the cost of her trip.

But she thought wrong.
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Do I really need travel insurance? This might help you decide

Do you need insurance for your next trip?

That’s a question we ask all the time on this site, and it was the topic of a popular series earlier this year.

Truth is, if you have to make just one large claim, you’ll be glad you had travel insurance. But what, exactly, are your chances are of making a claim on a travel insurance policy, and what kind of claims are typically filed?

This infographic is pretty enlightening.

Many thanks to our sponsor TripInsurance.com for giving us an early look at these numbers. Here’s a link to the full-size graphic.

Stay tuned for a sequel to the travel insurance series in early 2012.

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Travel insurance policy claim denied for vaccine cancellation

Richard Effress though he had a perfectly legitimate reason for canceling part of his trip to Africa with his mother: a new requirement that travelers entering South Africa needed a yellow fever vaccine. He was certain his travel insurance policy would cover the change.

Maybe he shouldn’t have been so certain.

Today’s “case dismissed” file is a sad lesson in making assumptions about a travel insurance policy that you shouldn’t. It is also a reminder to compare travel insurance. The fine print in your contract, it turns out, can cost you lots of money.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Is my lost train ticket a lost cause?

Question: I am writing to you in hopes that you can help me receive my refund for a Eurail ticket, or find a way to receive a refund, as I am a student and have no funds to cushion this loss.

I am waiting for a 313-euro refund from Eurail for a lost ticket, which was fortunately covered under a ticket protection plan I bought when I made my reservation. I filed the claim with the appropriate paperwork, but didn’t receive a check.

I subsequently got in touch with Eurail via email, but they have since been ignoring all correspondence from me.

I am at the end of my rope. I have contacted the Better Business Bureau, but they found no valid address for Eurail and so couldn’t complete my claim. I have since emailed the BBB two times with valid addresses, but they have not responded to my correspondence.

This matter is of the utmost importance to me. I hope you can help me. — Stephanie Sanzo, Hartford, Conn.

A: Eurail should have refunded your lost ticket promptly. You paid extra to “insure” your ticket against a loss, and the least the company can do now is honor your claim.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Is a ‘natural cause’ a pre-existing condition?

Question: I need your help with a travel insurance problem. We booked a trip to Cancun through Orbitz last year, and when we got to the last screen of the reservation, it offered us a travel insurance policy through Access America. We thought it would be a good idea to have insurance, so we bought it.

Afterwards, we received a document with the specifics of our policy. I didn’t read it because I didn’t anticipate having to make a claim. But I was wrong.

Shortly before our trip, my mother died unexpectedly. I called Orbitz, which referred me to the insurance company. An Access America representative told me to cancel the trip and suggested that I reschedule it. They promised they would “take care” of the claim.

A few weeks later, Access America denied my claim for $951, because my mother suffered from high blood pressure. The death certificate listed the cause of death as being from “natural causes.” I didn’t know a natural cause was a pre-existing medical condition. — Cheryl Ellis, Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Answer: My condolences on the loss of your mother. I agree with you that a “natural cause” isn’t a pre-existing condition, and I think Access America should have honored your claim.
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