Answer: If your insurance policy covered a canceled tour, then Access America should have paid up.
But did it? I checked with the insurance company, and rescheduling a trip because of a lack of participation in a tour isn’t covered. I agree with you that when you buy insurance, you’re left with the impression that you would be protected if something goes wrong on your vacation. But you have to read the fine print.
Most travel insurance policies cover specific situations described in their terms. There are a number of common events, such as illness or injury to an insured, a traveling companion or close family member, plus a list of other health, transportation, accommodation, political and work circumstances, that are covered reasons for canceling or interrupting a trip.
It appears you purchased your policy to cover your airline ticket, through your airline’s site. I’m a little dubious of the insurance offered through airlines, because they can be extremely restrictive. (I’ve heard insurance insiders joke that you have to die in a plane crash or lose a limb in order to make a successful claim, but I’m sure that’s an exaggeration.)
Insurance purchased through an airline is often an afterthought — and optional purchase with your airline ticket. Travel insurance should never be an afterthought. You’re much better off shopping around for the right policy than clicking a button when you’re booking a ticket and then assuming you’ll be covered.
I contacted Access America on your behalf. It reviewed your case and ruled that your tour cancellation wasn’t covered. I’m sorry.
Update: Some of you will recognize this story — it’s based on the very first “case dismissed” post I wrote last year. About a month after I covered Markland’s unsuccessful claim, Friendly Planet decided to reimburse her for her flight, after all.