Allianz refuses flight reimbursement after group tour is canceled

Darleen Hauck’s tour was canceled because of a lack of participants, and she received a refund for the cost of the tour from the tour operator. She would like to be reimbursed for the cost of the airfare as well, but that isn’t going to happen — and sadly, we can’t help.

Hauck reserved an Olympic National Park group tour through Wilderness Inquiry. She also booked a flight for the tour from Minneapolis to Seattle with Delta Air Lines. At the conclusion of the Delta booking process, Hauck was offered an option to purchase travel insurance through Allianz. Hauck purchased an Individual Travel Insurance Policy, which included trip cancellation coverage.

When Wilderness Inquiry subsequently canceled the tour, Hauck filed a claim with Allianz. The insurer denied the claim because cancellation by the tour operator wasn’t a covered event. So, what Hauck considered a cancellation wasn’t a cancellation to Allianz, because not all cancellations are created equal.

What determines when a cancellation is a cancellation? The fine print contained within the insurance policy. And you have to make yourself read it.

Hauck’s travel insurance policy covers trip cancellation for specified reasons, and cancellation by a tour operator is covered under very limited and very specific circumstances. The relevant portion of the policy provides:

Your trip is canceled before you get started, or interrupted after you’ve left, for one of the following covered reasons: Your airline, cruise line, or tour operator or travel supplier stops offering all services for at least 24 consecutive hours where you’re departing, arriving or making a connection because of a natural disaster or severe weather.

As Allianz advised our advocates when we contacted Allianz on Hauck’s behalf, trip cancellation by a tour operator due to low registration is simply not a covered reason.

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Insurance policies are contracts between the insurer and the insured. Having a clear understanding of an insurance contract is vital. Weighing the likelihood of a tour operator canceling an itinerary for any noncovered reason is something to consider as well.

Hauck’s experience is a lesson for everyone: Read the insurance policy and evaluate the possibility of the tour operator canceling the tour for an uncovered reason.

We’re sorry that we couldn’t help Hauck. But we’re glad she contacted us because her experience with travel insurance has been a valuable learning experience for our readers.

Should Allianz have covered Darleen Hauck's tour?

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Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

  • Alan Gore

    A lot of adventure-class tours are sold subject to being able to meet a minimum booking. I have done some of these myself, sometimes with tour companies that remind you to insure yourself against the non-tour costs of a cancellation. If your Antarctic adventure does not meet its minimum, you don’t want to be stuck with a pricy airfare to Ushuaia that no longer connects to anything.

    Hauck did exactly the right thing by insuring against cancelation. Who knew that a company with the size and reputation of Allianz would weasel out on such a common case.

    And yes, I meant weasel. To English-speaking Earthlings the phrase “Your trip is canceled before you get started” should mean exactly what it appears to mean.

  • JewelEyed

    This is the relevant portion: “…for at least 24 consecutive hours where you’re departing, arriving or making a connection because of a natural disaster or severe weather.” If she had purchased a policy on her own, I wonder if it might have covered such an event, but obviously the one she bought through Delta did not.

  • Bill___A

    They can’t insure everything or rates would go through the roof. That said, every insurer has their own list of risks and perils they cover, and it is important to take note of those prior to buying or getting the insurance. If it isn’t on the list, and you can’t hold someone accountable, they you are holding the bag. Unfortunate but true. I don’t think they “weaseled” out of it, I think it wasn’t covered.

  • taxed2themax

    .. I don’t know that I’d agree with your position.. “…. stops offering ALL services” (emphasis added) being a “weasel” action..

    They (the tour company) don’t appear to be stopping ALL services — just THIS service to which the OP was holding a booking for.. So, while I can agree that someone — an English speaking Earthling as you title them — may not see it or perhaps understand it as such, to me there is a case to me made that the policy wording of “all” makes her claim invalid.

    I do wish sometimes policy wording were done in a less legal-ese manner.. but.. I must acknowledge that disagreements about coverage claims and settlements are commonly are addressed in courts of law; and rightly or wrongly, the language spoke and largely accepted in that type of venue is “legal-ese” — therefore, that’s how these documents are then written.

  • Lindabator

    but she bought the coverage thru the airline, NOT thru Allianz directly, and that does NOT cover this type of cancellation – people need to learn to take the minute to read the coverage

  • Lindabator

    correct — when buying the insurance directly with the airlines, it only covers certain things the airline has asked to be covered — a quick read would have told her that. Had she booked an actual policy thru Allianz directly, it would have cost more, and covered her for such events

  • Lindabator

    true – she bought the airline insurance, which is far less expensive as it has limited coverage – she didn’t read what she bought, and it was not applicable to her tour operator’s cancellation

  • BubbaJoe123

    An English-speaking Earthling would presumably read the whole sentence. It only applies for a weather or natural disaster based cancellation.

    “stops offering all services for at least 24 consecutive hours where you’re departing, arriving or making a connection because of a natural disaster or severe weather.”

  • cscasi

    I am glad that there was no question b the tour operator and it refunded her the cost of the tour that was cancelled. Having said that, it is not Delta Airlines’ fault that her tour was cancelled and the flights she purchased were available. So, Delta owes her nothing. She could have (if she didn’t) called Delta and have it credit her ticket; the value of which would be good for one year from the original date of purchase, less the change fee. She would be out $200 or $250 for the change fee but at least she would have gotten something back. And as I said, Delta operated the flights she chose, so I am sure Allianz would not have covered it in any case; especially since she purchased the Delta version of the policy.

  • “She would be out $200 or $250 for the change fee but at least she would have gotten something back.”

    Right there is something else that is irksome and morally wrong, i.e. a charge that in no way represents what it actually costs to change a ticket electronically.

    It is nothing less than a RIP-OFF!

  • JewelEyed

    None of that is relevant anyway because the cause wasn’t “a natural disaster or severe weather.”

  • gpx21dlr

    I dislike having to buy insurance. In my previous life, 50% of my income went towards some kind of insurance of another. INSURANCE IS A NECESSARY EVIL. Also, denying claims is what insurance love to do. This is why one of my favorite movies is THE RAINMAKER.

  • Michael__K

    What Covered Reason for ANY product sold through Allianz directly (or from any other insurer for that matter) are you suggesting would cover this?

  • Michael__K

    Which Covered Reason of what policy sold directly by ANY insurer are you suggesting would cover this?

  • Michael__K

    I don’t know of ANY third party insurance policy that would cover cancellation by a tour operator because of a lack of participants, unless you bought Cancel For Any Reason coverage and met the 48+ hour cancellation deadline.

    Those who promote travel insurance irresponsibly exaggerate the scope of what travel insurance generally covers.

  • DepartureLevel

    Did she buy a separate land tour or was the air and land all bundled into one deal ? Sounds like they were two separate things. Your tour cancelled ?……go get another land arrangement – how difficult is that ?

  • jah6

    Insurance companies just love to deny claims, so I never side with them.

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