I injured my shoulder. Now why is Trip Mate dragging its feet to pay my claim?

When Ulrike Lartey injures her shoulder, she is forced to cancel a trip to the Caribbean. But even though she has a valid travel insurance claim, Trip Mate refuses to pay it. Can our advocates persuade Trip Mate to reimburse her covered expenses?

Question: Using a travel agent, I paid $2,549 for a trip to Anthony’s Key Resort in Honduras. The fee included airfares on United Airlines, travel insurance through Trip Mate, scuba diving, snorkeling, shore excursions and beach time. Then I had to cancel my trip because I had to have surgery for a shoulder injury.

I made a claim on my Trip Mate policy for the full cost of the trip, sending the company documentation from my doctors attesting that the surgery was required and prevented me from taking the trip.

Trip Mate did not pay the claim, but requested more documentation from me and my travel agent. Yet every time we sent Trip Mate new documents, we were met with claims for yet more documents. Among its demands was information about my mother, who died many years ago. Trip Mate wanted to know about the care she received in a nursing home prior to her death. I have no idea how information about my mother’s care could possibly be related to my claim.

After my travel agent and I sent Trip Mate’s agent all the documents they requested, we were told that they hadn’t received the documents and that we needed to send them again. We faxed and e-mailed the documents twice because Trip Mate claimed that our first e-mail didn’t reach them.

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When we called Trip Mate, we were given only the first name of an employee who is processing my claim, but the representative to whom we spoke would not transfer our call to that employee.

All of these delays are ridiculous. Can you get Trip Mate to pay the claim? — Ulrike Lartey, Oracle, Ariz.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your injury and the delays in your receiving reimbursement for your lost trip expenses. Trip Mate literally added insult to your injury in repeatedly asking you for documentation without at least giving you a status update as to when you could expect your claim to be resolved. The company has a “B” rating from the Better Business Bureau, with 67 percent of its customer reviews being negative and 193 complaints against it as of this writing.

Its claims page indicates that it needs the following information to process a claim for a canceled trip prior to departure:

Payment Information – a copy of your trip itinerary and copies of all invoices, credit card statements and cleared checks evidencing your payment for the trip.

Refund Information – original unused nonrefundable tickets; copies of invoices, credit card statements or other written documentation substantiating the non-refundable costs for your air, land or cruise travel arrangements (retain originals for your records) and a copy of the travel supplier’s literature that details the terms and conditions (i.e. refunds given when a trip is canceled).

Cause of Your Trip Cancellation – any documentation substantiating the reason you canceled your trip (i.e. such as a death certificate in the event [of] death; for a sickness or injury, signed Attending Physician Statement and Authorization for Release of Information forms which are included with your claim form).

Since you provided signed documents from your doctors that substantiated that you had an injury that required immediate care and necessitated your cancellation, along with your itinerary, invoices and payment information, Trip Mate should have processed your claim without delay. Instead, it jerked you around by forcing you to resubmit your information multiple times and refusing to let you speak to the person handling your claim. And its demands for information about your mother make no sense whatsoever except as a delaying tactic. Clearly Trip Mate had its own reason (aka “profit motive”) for not wanting to pay your claim.

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After you contacted our advocacy team for help, we contacted your insurance broker, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. We learned that you selected a coverage limit of $2,000 at the time you purchased your policy, which is less than your claim amount of $2,549 and helps account for Trip Mate’s delay in paying the entire claim.

You have notified us that you have received reimbursement from Trip Mate for your full claim up to the $2,000 limit.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

  • finance_tony

    “The company has a “B” rating from the Better Business Bureau”

    Why? Why why why include this all the time? Why give any credence to this useless organization?

  • cscasi

    This is a good example of why travelers who plan to purchase travel insurance to cover themselves on trips, vacations, etc., need to perform due diligence in selecting a reputable company to cover them. Also, they need to ensure they follow the company’s instructions in completing the application, ensure they know what the policy will and will not cover, the coverage limits for the things it does cover, to see if they need to purchase a waiver (i.e., preexisting condition(s) ) and be sure to purchase a plan with the limits of coverage high enough to cover any loses than may be incurred when one has to cancel for whatever reason, get injured, hospitalized (is the coverage primary or secondary) while traveling, gets delayed, suffers losses and, God forbid, dies while on the trip.
    It’s a lot to work through but a good plan can be a lifesaver in more ways than one.

  • cscasi

    It definitely gives credence to do further checking or more probably to look elsewhere for coverage. There are too many good travel insurance companies to choose from out there folks, without having to choose on like this one apparently is.

  • Alan Gore

    Because to get a B rating from the BBB you have to be Bernie Madoff himself.

    Asking for irrelevant documentation about the pax’ mother is classic scam you behavior.

  • Lindabator

    actually think they pulled the wrong claim folio there — just plain stupidity

  • sirwired

    The whole “tell us all about your Mother” bit while not paying the claim, and “losing” the documentation, is certainly the sort of thing the appropriate state regulator is interested in knowing about. I’d go ahead and file a report. (And if you have trouble getting a claim paid, it can be a very effective advocacy step; sometimes a nastygram from the state govt. is just what’s needed to prod a “stuck” claim along.)

    It’s not unusual for the initial set of documentation to be insufficient; they often do need additional details, but round after round (and asking for 100% irrelevant stuff) is out of line.

  • Donald Filiault

    Travel Insurance companies are for the most part, legitimate, and they all ask for a lot of information, but after a frustrating, six month battle with Trip Assured, a now defunct company several years ago, I’ve learned to check the BBB and other sources before investing my money with possibly unscrupulous companies.

  • finance_tony

    That’s not true. Neither a good nor a bad review by the BBB has any meaning – it might just mean that the company doesn’t reply to the BBB and doesn’t play the extortion game to buy a good rating.

    And I agree this particular case is scam behavior.


    I am wondering exactly how the insurance company knew about her mother.

  • AJPeabody

    Everyone has a mother. Didn’t you hear about hereditary shoulder injury surgery syndrome? I bet the next step would have been to ask for information on the OP’s father and stepsisters (if any).

  • sirwired

    Might as well ask about co-workers too, for those tricky contagious cases!

  • PsyGuy

    First insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums and denying benefits.

  • PsyGuy

    Public Records?

  • PsyGuy

    The BBB is a scam, the only good rating are for businesses that pay. If you aren’t a member you get a low grade, join and they clean it up for you.

  • PsyGuy

    Good marketing?

  • PsyGuy

    Bernie had an A rating.

  • Zarkov505

    This is where Registered Mail can come in handy.

    Instead of FAXing, or sending email, you send it Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested. At that point, you (1) ensure that, barring actual Acts of God, it WILL be delivered, (2) create an end-to-end audit trail, that lets you trace it EXACTLY, and PROVE IN COURT that it got there (or find out EXACTLY where and when it got lost in the mail), and (3) you fire a warning shot directly into their legal counsel’s office.


    Duh! I should have said her mother’s nursing home experience….

  • gpx21dlr

    BBB is a scam.

  • Michael__K

    The company has a “B” rating from the Better Business Bureau

    When I check right now, it has an A+ actually…. Did they just pay their BBB dues?

  • Michael__K

    Actually, this is a good example of how you can do all of those things and still get shafted (at least until a journalist shames the company).

  • Grandma

    Instead of posting the meaningless BBB rating, how about the 1 star (from 5) from consumerafffairs, 1 star (from 5) from travelinsurancerating, 1 1/2) star (from 5) from yelp?

    TripMate is BBB accredited company = they PAID to BBB for the rating.
    I do not know when was this article written, but now it has A+ (!!!!) rating

  • michael anthony

    The mothers nursing home records are considered a,medical record and it’s a HIPPA violation for them to request them. I presume Trip Mate was fishing for reason to deny, like family history, but a shoulder injury doesn’t cut it. The POA or guardian should file for violation of HIPPA.

  • Kairho

    Absolutely. Anytime anyone “loses” something I sent, I’ll gladly re-send but traceable. (I usually send UPS or FedEx as going to the PO is way too stressful.) Have never had any further “problem” once they see the time stamps.

  • Zarkov505

    The key is that Registered Mail gets their attention the way UPS or FedEx doesn’t. Registered Mail suggests to them that your attorney has them in the crosshairs and is just waiting for you to order him/her to shoot. (There have been cases of multimillion dollar default judgment awards because a firm accidentally ignored a single Registered Mail piece.)

  • PsyGuy

    It’s not a violation to request them. You can request anything, it’s up to the patient and custodian to say no when warranted.

  • Lee

    I’m with you on reporting them to AG for a few reasons but their request for information on her deceased mother is truly repugnant. It’s offensive and wholly inappropriate and possibly, illegal. They sound like a horror – glad to scratch them off my list even though they were never on it in the first place….

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