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Jul 31, 2020
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In January 2020, I purchased an Alaska 6 day fishing package for three adults, for June 10-16, 2020. It was a bucket list trip for my brother, his wife, and I. The fishing charter operator recommended that I purchase travel insurance, as they have a no refund policy. Therefore, I purchased travel insurance from AIG as recommended in the vendors’ website. Unfortunately, shortly after the pandemic hit, my flights were cancelled, and I was left with trying to figure out what to do. I contacted the vendor and he was sympathetic, and offered to change the dates to later on this year at no cost, or change it for 2021 and I would have to forfeit 50% of the price of the original reservation. Since I didn’t want to lose over $3,000 (the price of the fishing charter alone was $6079), I opted for a September date, hoping that conditions would improve such that we would be able to make the trip in September. I was able to change all of the flight and auto rental reservations to September at no cost. This week I received an email that one of my flights was cancelled. Furthermore, with Alaska requiring:

that as of June 5th, all travelers be tested for COVID-19 before boarding a plane to Alaska instead of quarantining for 14 days upon arrival. COVID-19 tests will need to be completed within 72 hours of boarding the plane to Alaska and passengers will be asked to provide test results and fill out documentation when they arrive. Those who are unable to submit their complete paperwork, will be provided a test at the airport terminal upon arrival. Passengers may opt instead for a 14-day quarantine.

Given that current COVID-19 testing may take as long as one to two weeks to obtain the results, never mind just scheduling a test, it makes it highly improbable that we would be able to complete the trip this year, if ever. Therefore, I would like some advice on which approach to follow.

  • I have already appealed to the fishing charter operator and I believe best case is that I may wind up losing at least 50% of the cost of the fishing charter (approximately $3,000), if I rebook for next year. At least that’s what he offered in May when we last spoke. I have a call out to them but I have not heard back.
  • I contacted AIG via email in April requesting that the policy be canceled and I received a response that “If I have canceled the trip due to a covered reason and not received all of your money back, you would be eligible to file a claim against the policy.” One of the exclusions in the policy, and in most of these policies I sadly learned too late, are epidemics. I also spoke to someone from AIG this week and they responded that I have three options: the first is to file a claim to recover the fishing charter costs. The second option is to request a refund of the premium. The person I spoke to from AIG also informed me that they are mutually exclusive. That is if I file a claim, I can’t request a refund and vice-versa. I have a third option which is to reschedule the policy in which I have another year to use it.
I’m afraid that if I file a claim it will be denied due to the exclusion that costs due to travel affected by an epidemic are excluded, and I’ll be out over $6,000. If that’s the case, I would at least like to at least get a refund given that I won’t be able to travel. Any advice or help that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
In all likelihood travel insurance will deny the claim. If you didn’t buy a Cancel for Any Reason insurance policy, pandemics are not covered.

However- I wouldn’t cancel yet. You have nothing to lose by waiting and hopefully in a month the waits for test results would be much less than it is now.

I’m sorry the supplier isn’t working with you. We had an $11,000 fishing trip booked for a client and the supplier allowed him to move the trip to 2021 at the same price this years trip was.

I would wait a few more weeks and then appeal to the supplier again about moving the trip to next year.
 
Jul 31, 2020
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In all likelihood travel insurance will deny the claim. If you didn’t buy a Cancel for Any Reason insurance policy, pandemics are not covered.

However- I wouldn’t cancel yet. You have nothing to lose by waiting and hopefully in a month the waits for test results would be much less than it is now.

I’m sorry the supplier isn’t working with you. We had an $11,000 fishing trip booked for a client and the supplier allowed him to move the trip to 2021 at the same price this years trip was.

I would wait a few more weeks and then appeal to the supplier again about moving the trip to next year.
Thank you very much.
 

kenish

Sep 1, 2015
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1,840
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KSNA
Since I didn’t want to lose over $3,000 (the price of the fishing charter alone was $6079), I opted for a September date, hoping that conditions would improve such that we would be able to make the trip in September. I was able to change all of the flight and auto rental reservations to September at no cost. This week I received an email that one of my flights was cancelled. Furthermore, with Alaska requiring:

that as of June 5th, all travelers be tested for COVID-19 before boarding a plane to Alaska instead of quarantining for 14 days upon arrival. COVID-19 tests will need to be completed within 72 hours of boarding the plane to Alaska and passengers will be asked to provide test results and fill out documentation when they arrive. Those who are unable to submit their complete paperwork, will be provided a test at the airport terminal upon arrival. Passengers may opt instead for a 14-day quarantine.

Have you contacted the charter operator to see if you can renegotiate again, given the new AK requirements as of June 5th? Maybe they are now willing to reschedule for 2021 without the 50% penalty.

From the part of your post I highlighted in red, it sounds like you can be tested on arrival and good to go if you're negative? If you, brother, and SIL are extra cautious and self-quarantine for 14 days without symptoms, chances are very high (but not 100%) you're negative. Is that an option?

Sorry your bucket list is badly disrupted- Alaska is amazing!
 
Jul 31, 2020
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Have you contacted the charter operator to see if you can renegotiate again, given the new AK requirements as of June 5th? Maybe they are now willing to reschedule for 2021 without the 50% penalty.

From the part of your post I highlighted in red, it sounds like you can be tested on arrival and good to go if you're negative? If you, brother, and SIL are extra cautious and self-quarantine for 14 days without symptoms, chances are very high (but not 100%) you're negative. Is that an option?

Sorry your bucket list is badly disrupted- Alaska is amazing!
First, thank you for your response. I have contacted the charter operator, by email and phone. Subsequently I received a voice mail and email describing a place where I can get a rapid home COVID test, in which I can get results in as little as 72 hours. But when I followed the link, it turns out I don't qualify because I'm not exhibiting any symptoms. Also, given that the fishing trip was six days, and we're scheduled to go fishing the day after we arrived, quarantining on arrival was not an option. Finally, i did respond to the charter operator and when I spoke to the office assistant, she stated that I would get about $1,000 credit for next year and that my reservation had been canceled. That left me puzzled, because although I suggested in an earlier email that I may have to reschedule because of things beyond my control, and they only responded with the email about COVID testing. I have yet to receive a phone call back. I would like to think that I should be able to get better than $1000 credit, particularly since the clerk informed me that my reservation was canceled. I don't get the feeling that they would be willing to give much more than a $1000 credit for next year, and frankly I'm not certain that I would be able to make the trip next year.

Thanks again.
 
Jul 13, 2020
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You do not say what state you are in , but in my state as long as I pay , I can get a test. Even some drug stores here will do them.
 

kenish

Sep 1, 2015
1,074
1,840
113
KSNA
You do not say what state you are in , but in my state as long as I pay , I can get a test. Even some drug stores here will do them.
The problem (at least here in CA) is getting tested no more than 72 hours before arrival in AK and getting results in time to travel. Hawaii (and an increasing number of jurisdictions) have the same requirement. It pretty much filters out non-essential travel. Healthcare workers, first responders, etc. or people who can pay $2000 for "boutique" testing/results can get rapid results but normal testing won't get results in time.
 
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Jul 13, 2020
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I never said it would be cheap. I just said in my state it can be done. Had a friend need it and a anti body test to fly and was able to get it done.
 
Jul 13, 2020
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I am in NY at the moment. If I have time I will look into it
My friend had to pay extra to expedite his results to meet the airline requirements of less then 72 hours.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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Everyone, here is some insight into COVID-19 testing...

The turnaround time and availability are regional and state dependent. So, experiences posted here may or may not be pertinent to the OP because again turnaround time and availability are regional and state dependent. For example in Maryland, anyone who wants a test can request it, whereas in other states "certain criteria" have to be met before a test is ordered. Granted, with testing criteria stating "anyone with a potential exposure" it pretty much covers everyone.

Turnaround time is dependent on WHERE the test is done.
Tests can either be done as a "send out" vs "point of care."

Send out means the test is sent to a reference laboratory (for example Lab Corp, Quest, state lab) etc. The turn time depends on the clinic's contract with the lab (ie, whether there is priority). Turn time for a reference laboratory is a minimum of 1-2 days because you have to account for transport to the laboratory, then it gets put in a queue to run. In NC, reference laboratory testing is currently taking 3-5 days. In other places, such as Texas in June, it was taking up to 14-21 days due to the sheer volume of test requests.

Point of care testing refers to testing that is done in-house, either in the clinic or at a local laboratory. In house tests deliver results in under 40 minutes, but each machine can only run one test at a time. Because there is a shortage of these rapid portable tests, they are mostly reserved for emergencies or pre-op clearance. Some clinics have point of care testing, and those are the ones that should be able to give a result within 24 hours.

BE AWARE there is also an antigen test (currently there are 2 on the market: BD Veritor and Quidel SOFIA), that offer rapid testing, but are ANTIGEN not NAA/molecular tests. The drawback of this type of COVID test is they aren't as sensitive as a molecular/NAA/RT-PCR test and some states (ie Maine) will NOT ACCEPT this type of COVID-19 test. I do not know if Alaska or Hawaii requires a RT-PCR/NAA test, but I do know that Maine will not accept it. (I had to research this for a friend).
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,452
23,416
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Everyone, here is some insight into COVID-19 testing...

The turnaround time and availability are regional and state dependent. So, experiences posted here may or may not be pertinent to the OP because again turnaround time and availability are regional and state dependent. For example in Maryland, anyone who wants a test can request it, whereas in other states "certain criteria" have to be met before a test is ordered. Granted, with testing criteria stating "anyone with a potential exposure" it pretty much covers everyone.

Turnaround time is dependent on WHERE the test is done.
Tests can either be done as a "send out" vs "point of care."

Send out means the test is sent to a reference laboratory (for example Lab Corp, Quest, state lab) etc. The turn time depends on the clinic's contract with the lab (ie, whether there is priority). Turn time for a reference laboratory is a minimum of 1-2 days because you have to account for transport to the laboratory, then it gets put in a queue to run. In NC, reference laboratory testing is currently taking 3-5 days. In other places, such as Texas in June, it was taking up to 14-21 days due to the sheer volume of test requests.

Point of care testing refers to testing that is done in-house, either in the clinic or at a local laboratory. In house tests deliver results in under 40 minutes, but each machine can only run one test at a time. Because there is a shortage of these rapid portable tests, they are mostly reserved for emergencies or pre-op clearance. Some clinics have point of care testing, and those are the ones that should be able to give a result within 24 hours.

BE AWARE there is also an antigen test (currently there are 2 on the market: BD Veritor and Quidel SOFIA), that offer rapid testing, but are ANTIGEN not NAA/molecular tests. The drawback of this type of COVID test is they aren't as sensitive as a molecular/NAA/RT-PCR test and some states (ie Maine) will NOT ACCEPT this type of COVID-19 test. I do not know if Alaska or Hawaii requires a RT-PCR/NAA test, but I do know that Maine will not accept it. (I had to research this for a friend).
Excellent post. I am in NY as Comicman is- downstate- and I don’t know anyone who is getting results in less than a week. We have one hospital group that does testing in house and even they are taking at least a week unless one is having a medical procedure in a hospital, which are priority.

I believe Comicman‘s experience is not the norm in most areas.