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.
That clause should have been clearly spelled out in your contract. If you didn’t read it before you bought your policy, you should have reviewed it before making your claim. That way, you could have saved yourself months of pointless back-and-forth between you and the insurance company.
Of course, Access America could have been clearer with you. A quick look at your policy and its definition of “destination” would have shown any capable phone agent that your claim would have gone nowhere. Why didn’t someone tell you that your trip to Delhi wouldn’t be covered if you canceled?
I read contracts every day, but none are as confusing as the ones for travel insurance. Now that I think of it, I’m not entirely convinced that you would have been able to understand your contract, even if you’d studied it. Do you need a law degree to make sense of the paperwork? Maybe.
You were correct to appeal your case to Access America. More than 90 percent of insurance appeals are decided in a traveler’s favor. After that, you could have gone to arbitration, which means you allow a neutral, third party to decide your case. Or you could have taken Access America to court.
Copying the insurance commissioner in your state might also motivate your insurance company to see things your way.
As it turns out, none of that would be necessary. Access America recently switched to a new underwriter with a more inclusive definition of “destination.” It reviewed your claim again. “In this case,” said spokesman Mark Cipolletti, “the entire country of India should be considered the destination.”
Access America agreed to process your $7,300 claim.
(Photo: Panoramas/Flickr Creative Commons)