travel insurance

Has anyone else had this happen? I recently had to cancel a trip to Italy due to flooding in Colorado which affected us,our home and most of the state. I had purchased insurance with Allianz for both trip cancelation and medical coverage. I submitted a claim and they have since denied the request, stating that cancelling for this reason is not covered. they stated that canceling for repairing my home was not a reason covered in the policy. Our state was declared a natural disaster. They focused in on our home needing repair and that language only, and denied our claim. While I know this website doesn't endorse any insurance companies , I felt I should report this as I know so many rely on info. on this site and I wanted to get the word out.
Beware.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1841 posts

Thank you for your report on your travel insurance claim and in naming the company who denied it for their reason. If more folks here who have bad experiences with companies would offer to provide additional information to anyone wishing it via private message, we would all avoid mistakes in the future.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

Unfortunately, insurance companies only allow cancellation for the reasons that they stipulate in the terms and conditions. And virtually every one I have checked out generally disallows "acts of God", which the flooding would be considered. Disaster area designations play no part in whether an insurance company's rules must be set aside so that your cancellation is covered. Bottom line, the policy did not cover cancellation due to flooding or home repair or disaster area designation. They did nothing wrong.

Posted by Connie
Boulder
5 posts

Hope this info on insurance companies helpful to others. I did check my policy and they call a covered incident as a "natural disaster"-such as flooding! I will be appealing but not holding out much hope.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts

I would continue to pursue your claim. You have the right to appeal. 1. It might be worth the cost of a attorney consultation to review your policy language. Does your employer offer an EAP benefit - Employee Assistance Program? This usually includes one or two legal consultations at a reasonable cost, per benefit period, or
2. Write to your State Insurance Commissioner. They will investigate, review your policy and the circumstances. They can determine if you have a legal claim, and their decision in your favor should require Allianz to reimburse you. Insurance policy language may appear to be black and white, but it's not; many of the clauses and restrictions are open to different interpretation. Of course an Insurance company will interpret in the way that works to their benefit, i.e. "this is not a loss covered under your policy" just as you interpret it to your benefit. They will deny at first and hope you just go away. DON'T.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
803 posts

Good luck seeking help through the courts or the state. I am not saying these will not work, but, unless something in the contract is in violation of the law, the whole case will hinge on the wording of the contract. Guess who writes these contracts? Earlier this year, we had to choose between canceling or rescheduling a trip at considerable expense because of a serious but not life-threatening illness in the family.(The situation was stablized before the date of our trip but my wife had used up her leave time at work in dealing with it.) The contract was pretty specific about terms for cancelation, and it was clear this would not be covered. So we paid Delta extra money to rebook our flight, then had to pay the travel insuance company more to cover the extra cost on the front end. Neither expense seemed fair, but life's not fair. We rebooked and paid more to travel when things had settled down on the homefront, but that was a better than taking a total loss.

Posted by Connie
Boulder
5 posts

Thanks for info. about your recent experience. I will pursue pestering the company with emails and appeals etc. I think I will have an attorney look over policy and see how that shakes out. We cancelled knowing that if we didn't get money from the company we'd have to pay fees to the airlines and reschedule the trip. We did lose our non-refundable deposit on one accommodation.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
562 posts

That is too bad. Is there more language in the contract about the "natural disaster" clause. For example, does the "natural disaster" have to be in the locale you are to visit rather than at home. Also, you claimed repairs to home as the reason for cancelling rather than a natural disaster? I could see a lawyer seeing that as separate issues. Consulting with a lawyer may be worthwhile, and so is going to the appeal process. Good luck!

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts

"Guess who writes these contracts?" Insurance Contracts are written by the insurance companies but all insurance contracts (and riders or amendments to policies) have to be in compliance with state laws and are reviewed and approved by the licensing state's Dept of Insurance.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
248 posts

Connie, Sorry to hear that you had to choose between dealing with flood damage and holiday travel. In terms of travel insurance, reading and understanding the fine print is essential. As others have said, the insurance companies write the contract. I need to say that I am not a lawyer. That said, my understanding is that any ambiguity is suppose to be interpreted in favor of the party that did not write the contract. Unfortunately, litigating over several thousand dollars is not cost effective if a lawyer represents you. Would small claims court be an avenue assuming that you have a case? Your rebooking is a point others should keep in mind. A no refund fare or booking is not necessarily a complete write off.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

Am I correct in understanding that all you lost was the nonrefundable deposit on a hotel (except for the potential change fee for rescheduling your flights)? Maybe you are pursuing this on principle, but are your losses enough to make it worth paying an attorney?

Posted by Connie
Boulder
5 posts

Thanks for all your input, everyone. I don't which way I'll go yet, maybe small claims court? I lost about $3,000.00 in plane fare, lodging deposits, tickets for events. Not a small sum for me but may not be worth it to deal with an attorney. I have emailed the company and asked for an appeal and a review of material. I stated that the reason we couldn't go was due to flooding in the home, still have some water seeping in after a month, and repairs were only part of the reason to cancel. Road to our home was closed until last wk, approx. a month, house needing to be free from mold before rebuilding etc. Consulting with a structural engineer to make sure foundation safe etc.... I am waiting for their response.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

Unless the airfare was completely non-refundable/non-changeable, insurance wouldn't cover that anyway because the tickets still have value because they can be changed. The only part that might be covered is the change fee.

Posted by Connie
Boulder
5 posts

airline change fees- $300 pr ticket! I will continue to contact the Ins. company and do an appeal. Wow now that I think of it my losses are higher if that is the case. more like $3600. thanks for all your input.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

Connie,
Check your credit card coverage. I have a United Explorer Visa card and the travel insurance covers "severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a covered trip". Not sure if your situation would apply, but doesn't hurt to look into.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
803 posts

If the language of the contract is vague enough, you or an attorney might find some sympathy for a claim in Colorado courts, since the flooding affected so many people in the state. But it all comes back to the language of the contract. As someone else noted, the insurance company attorneys write these things to comply with state laws and regulations. They know exactly what language to use to protect their employers in any dispute. But, no they are not perfect; they cannot account for every possible situation. Hopefully, their language is vague enough to miss your situation, giving you an opening. It may be a long shot, but some people do prevail. Good luck.