Army denies leave, Aon denies a claim, but the war is just beginning

By | November 19th, 2016

When your commanding officer says you can’t take a scheduled vacation, you have no choice.

When an online travel agency or an airline immediately responds “no” to a request for a refund, you do have a choice.

Marcy Billington’s son is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Polk Army Base in Louisiana. His brother is a high school football coach in Spring Green, Wis.

After booking a United Airlines ticket through Expedia to attend one of his brother’s football games, the lieutenant learned he was needed at Fort Polk that day and was forced to cancel his ticket. But Billington purchased insurance with his ticket, so he thought he was covered and would get his $404 back without a problem.

He was wrong.

  • Charles Owen

    You should always read the terms and conditions prior to purchasing travel insurance to ensure it is right for your situation. They do make it surprisingly difficult to do so, which is annoying. This is a situation where the policy really does matter. Aon clearly does not cover military leave revocation. But, other insurers do. Both TravelGuard and MH Ross specifically indicate that revoked leave is covered. MH Ross: “We will pay a benefit, up to the maximum shown on the accompanying Confirmation of Benefits, if You are prevented from taking Your Covered Trip due to the following Unforeseen events: h) You or Your Traveling Companion being called into active military service by having Your or his/her leave revoked” TravelGuard: “the Insured or Traveling Companion being called into active military service or having leave revoked or being reassigned”. The terms for travel insurance vary drastically from company to company, and there are a lot of bad policies out there.

  • cscasi

    Travel Insured International also allows for the same and is covered under its “other covered reasons” under Trip Interruption.
    Also, many travel insurance companies give you a free look time and one can cancel with no penalty during that time should they find the policy terms not to their liking.

  • Rebecca

    Military duties are an exception that is always made – generally it’s an unwritten rule. Any company where I’ve ever worked or been aware of their policy through contacts there, it’s normally a matter of just getting in front of the right person that has override capabilities.

    In cases like these, I’d actually recommend against insurance. All the major airlines will give a refund. I’m not sure that Spirit would, but for sure United, Delta, Southwest and American will. As it should be. Normally, it just needs escalation, to someone in a stateside customer service position.

  • Alan Gore

    Do airlines require that military orders be written? This one didn’t, but if there are some that do the military should have a standard form it can issue, say something printable online like a boarding pass, that will satisfy everyone’s requirements.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I’m glad this worked out because the military is not like a regular govt employees who would almost never see leave cancelled.

  • Carol Molloy

    Regarding military orders: Formal orders are indeed written. Active duty personnel travel with them. A superior may withdraw permission to take leave, and the is on order that must be obeyed, of course. It is not the same as “order”, which is an instruction to perform a specific duty or travel to a specific location.

    Regardless of the technical definition, most airlines I have dealt with will accommodate active duty personnel whose leave has been cancelled. A letter from a superior officer usually will do it. Most officers oblige.

    My late husband and my son are Marines. I volunteer with the USO. I am pleased to say that they have been shown many kindnesses by merchants and strangers out of respect for their service.

  • Annie M

    This should not have needed to go this far. Expedia should have done the right thing from the beginning.

  • The Original Joe S

    online travel agency? not a good idea.

    Aon: inferior

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    Glad it turned out okay but why does a Second Lieutenant need help from his mother?

  • sirwired

    This wasn’t some exclusion buried deep in the fine print; it simply never made the list of things that are covered. It’s not a “weasel” contract; it’s no different from your auto insurance not covering the destruction of your car because the engine threw a rod.

  • Lindabator

    But United has his money – I agree, Expedia should have gone to bat for him immediately, though, as the outcome, no doubt, would have been the same here

  • Lindabator

    NOT all insurance policies cover all reasons – there are many other options which would have covered him, but he did not check on the T&C before buying

  • Lindabator

    thank you

  • Michael__K

    Even if the policy says it covers revoked leave, the coverage is useless if the documentation to prove the claim is unobtainable.

    I’m not sure why the customer couldn’t get orders in writing from his commanding officer, but that would probably an issue for any insurer.

  • Tigger57

    I’m glad they were able to get the money back but why do people buy insurance without knowing what it covers?

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