Buddy needed emergency surgery and our company contacts came to the rescue

Joy Silva’s Alaska Airlines case wouldn’t have gone far even under the best of circumstances.

You might even say it would have gone to the dogs.

Her dog, to be exact.

Her story, which involved Alaska Airlines, her pet, unexpected surgery and a few insider tricks, offers lessons for the rest of us. Sometimes, even frivolous-sounding cases have some merit. Hers certainly did, much to my surprise — and probably yours, too.

Here’s why a $16,000 luggage reimbursement claim will always fall flat

What happens when a traveler discovers that three pieces of her luggage have been ruined by an unidentified type of “airline goo” and asks Interjet or her travel insurance company to compensate her to the tune of $16,000? Lynda Leibrock can tell you: Nothing.

6 times when you’re better off without travel insurance

Even though Jon Look is a frequent traveler, he always leaves home without one thing.

“I have never purchased a travel insurance policy,” admits Look, a retired photographer. “It adds expense and complications and rarely pays off.”

Traveling without insurance? Yep, most Americans still do it, and some of them with good reason. Because not everyone needs insurance and some people wouldn’t be able to use it even if they bought it.

As it turns out, there are times when you’ll want to skip that insurance policy. It may not be as often as you think, but it happens.

Help! Carnival changed my cruise itinerary and I want a full refund

Several days before Thuan Bui’s Carnival cruise, most of his scheduled ports of call are canceled by the cruise line. So he cancels his trip. Now he wants a full reimbursement for the cost of the cruise, travel insurance and airline change fees. You might think you know how this one ends — but you might be wrong.

Alternative forms of insurance you need to know about now

Think you need travel insurance? Think again.

You might require something else — either a specialized insurance product that protects only one aspect of your trip, or something that isn’t insurance at all.

Call it “alt” insurance.

No, we’re not about to get political. Alt insurance is real and it can protect you regardless of ideological leanings. Sometimes, it isn’t insurance at all, but a different form of protection.

They booked a cruise. Then they found out how long it would take to get to the port.

When Carole Schachter and her husband booked a cruise vacation in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, they were looking forward to winding along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. But they didn’t factor travel time to the ports of embarkation and disembarkation into their plans — or a penalty for canceling their trip.

Does travel insurance cover a pre-existing condition and the death of a loved one?

Robert Hamilton was looking forward to his six-night stay in Colorado that he booked through VRBO and Turnkey Colorado. But he also knew that with his mother-in-law hospitalized, he probably should buy travel insurance just in case the unthinkable happened. It also led us to wonder if travel insurance always covers a pre-existing condition and the death of a loved one.

British Airways won’t give me proof that my ticket was nonrefundable

After a terrorist attack in London, Kelly Bukaty cancels her British Airways flight. But her travel insurance company won’t reimburse her airfare without proof that her ticket was nonrefundable. Can our advocates help Bukaty get British Airways to provide documentation to resolve her insurance claim?

Offended by our request for more information? We can’t help

“These researchers for Chris Elliott respond with more legalese than the cotton-pickin’ insurance company did.”

This was the response we received from Donald Norton to a question we asked him about his case.

Our advocates often need to follow up with additional questions to determine whether we can help consumers requesting our assistance. We do this when we receive help requests with information that appears to be unclear or incomplete. Most of these consumers are happy to provide us with the answers to our questions, but some take offense. When that happens, we can’t help them.

I canceled my cruise, why can’t I get a refund for my trip insurance?

Zelma Friedling booked a Caribbean cruise a year in advance but canceled after two hurricanes hit the islands they were scheduled to visit. The cruise line refunded the money she paid for the cruise, but neither the cruise line nor the travel insurance company will refund what she paid for travel insurance.

Will we help her get her money back?

Insider tips on how to file a travel insurance claim

If you’re reading this, chances are something horrible has happened while you’re on vacation — a health scare, a disruption, even an unexpected death.

Maybe you’ve phoned your travel insurance company and the wheels are now in motion for a claim. And you’re wondering: What now?

I already have auto insurance, so why is Europcar forcing me to buy it for my car rental?

When Allison Blake rents a car through Hotwire for her trip to Mexico, she is forced to purchase auto insurance coverage even though she already has it through Allianz. Can our advocates persuade Hotwire to refund Blake the cost of the insurance she didn’t need?

A week of volunteering in Kenya nosedives because of air ticket error

When Kristina Aubert tries to check in for a flight, she finds that her name is misspelled on her air ticket, costing her a week of volunteering as a nurse in Kenya. Are her travel expenses gone forever? Or can our own volunteers help her recover them?

It wasn’t my fault. Why should I be penalized for missing my flight?

It just wasn’t David Ababio’s day.

His back was injured and he couldn’t walk quickly. Then the airport bus wasn’t running. He arrived at the KLM counter ten minutes too late to check in for his flight. And then he learned that KLM considered him a “no-show” for his flight and canceled his itinerary.

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