When Chris Condon and his family had to cancel a planned trip to Portugal because their beloved family cat became gravely ill, they thought they’d be protected by their travel insurance that covered sick pets. They just needed a little help from the airline. Instead they got the runaround.
Question: My wife and I booked a week in Portugal for early August. The coach fare in total was about $1,700. I used Citibank Gold MasterCard for the purchase, which includes trip insurance that covers pet illness when confirmed by a vet.
About three months before the trip, our pet was diagnosed with a serious illness that is life-threatening and requires intensive care.
Our short hair tabby cat, Styx, was abandoned and homeless nine years ago and near death when someone brought him to our vet for help or to be put down. His ear was badly cut and infected. He weighed seven pounds, half his normal current weight.
The vet was able to save him, and after six months of loving staff care and a state-required six month rabies quarantine, the vet asked us to adopt him. We had just lost our previous cat to cancer after twelve years, whom our vet took care of most all of those years.
She knew Styx deserved our type of care, compassion and home. When Styx got sick in May we thought surgery could fix him, but there was a tumor integrated into the kidney and veins so it is inoperable. Styx requires three pills twice daily and special feeding. So it would be difficult to hire caregivers for such care. Also we didn’t want to traumatize him any more than necessary, nor did we want to miss quality time with him while he is stable.
I spoke with Citi Travel twice to confirm the requirements of a claim if in fact we canceled the trip to Portugal and to ensure that we were eligible for coverage, which was confirmed both times.
Through the summer we monitored his condition. On Aug. 8, we had no choice but to cancel the trip so we could properly care for Styx. I spoke with TAP and confirmed cancellation of the trip. It was all verbal. I requested documentation which they couldn’t provide, but they stated I would receive a refund for the taxes and fees only, as these were fully nonrefundable tickets. They couldn’t even provide an email confirming the cancellation.
My issue is that the Citi insurance requires documentation from TAP stating their policy of no credit and the net amount lost, which was $1,500, after TAP credited about $200 in taxes. I’ve called TAP many times and was always told that the refunds department can only be contacted by email. The last time I tried they said the refunds department doesn’t issue that document and referred me to another department, that also can only be contacted by email.
It’s been three weeks since I contacted the second department via email, and no reply to date. I filed the claim and all documents I had with Citi insurance, but knew it is was lacking and they were likely to reject the claim. However there is a 180-day open window on the claim with Citi, and I am now four months into it with no acceptable response from TAP. Can you help? — Chris Condon, Dover, Mass.
Answer: I am so sorry to hear about your tabby’s illness, and that what should have been a simple request has made an already difficult time even more so.
Here’s a case where you did everything you should have done. You bought travel insurance, as we advise, and even checked to make sure it would provide coverage in the event your beloved pet became ill.
When that did indeed happen, you checked with the insurance company to ensure that they would be covered should they need to cancel their trip.
And when it was finally determined that the trip needed to be canceled in order to properly care for Styx, you requested documentation from the airline for the insurance claim.
This should have been an exceptionally easy request for TAP to grant. Instead, for months you were shunted from one department to another at the airline. Meanwhile, your travel insurance agency apparently lost your initial claim, and you had to start over again. Finally, fearing that the window for filing your claim would soon run out, you reached out to us for help.
We also got the runaround from TAP. They responded that for “security reasons” they couldn’t discuss the matter with our advocate, but only the passenger directly. And we know how that was going.
Ultimately though, we’re pleased to report that you got the simple email you needed to complete your insurance claim. The executive contacts at our website for TAP may have helped speed up the process.