Robert Hood and his wife were looking forward to their trip to Madagascar when a sudden injury made it necessary to forego the adventure. Luckily, Hood had purchased a comprehensive travel insurance policy from World Nomads to protect his $9,000 deposit on the trip. So why is he still waiting for reimbursement six months later? That’s what we aim to find out.
Question: My wife and I had planned a trip to Madagascar in September. I purchased trip insurance through World Nomads.
Then I suffered a back injury that required surgery in August. My surgeon said I would not be medically cleared for the trip as it was too soon after surgery. As soon as I knew I couldn’t make the trip, I filed a claim with World Nomads and the claim is still being processed by Trip Mate (the underwriter of the policy).
I have provided every shred of information they have requested and kept in contact with their customer service department. It is now almost six months since I submitted the documents and I feel I am being stonewalled. Can you help find out what is going on with my claim? — Robert Hood, Fallston, Md.
Answer: Certainly, Bob, I would love to help you. After all, you purchased a travel insurance policy to provide you with the peace of mind that your hefty trip deposits would be protected. You should not be spending your convalescence worrying about when, and if, you will be reimbursed.
I reviewed your paperwork and noticed that the underwriter of your policy, Trip Mate, had notified you on more than one occasion that your doctor had not provided them with any documentation. This medical documentation is an essential part of your claim and it is impossible to receive an approval stamp without it.
You checked with your doctor and he told you that no one from World Nomads or Trip Mate had requested any information about you.
So I contacted Trip Mate and asked what was holding up your claim. An executive at Trip Mate informed me that no one from your physician’s office had responded to their multiple requests for the needed documents.
Upon further investigation, it seems that these requests were going to the medical records department of your doctor’s office. Because you had not provided a signed authorization form these requests had gone unanswered by the staff there.
It appears that no personnel from the medical records office thought to proactively contact you and ask you to approve the forwarding of your medical information to Trip Mate. And so, for months, your claim continued to remain stagnant.
Once we were involved things finally started to move along.
After you signed the release form, Trip Mate was then informed that your doctor’s office required a small fee before they would provide your information. We wondered about this request, but Trip Mate explained that this type of fee is frequently required by medical facilities.
After the payment was processed the necessary paperwork was finally sent to Trip Mate for its review.
A few weeks later, your claim was approved and you were informed that a reimbursement check would be sent to you by Federal Express. You were pleased with this outcome.
There are several lessons to be learned from your case. First, when making a claim with your travel insurance company, it is imperative to be clear about the required documentation. You felt confident that you had provided all the needed paperwork and that Trip Mate was delaying your claim. However, upon closer examination, it was the disconnect between you, your doctor and his medical records department that was holding up your claim.
And, of course, your story is a strong reminder of the purpose and benefits of trip insurance. Luckily, you had the forethought to purchase a policy that protected your investment. But we receive many requests from consumers who did not purchase trip insurance and then are faced with a medical emergency or other calamity. They ask us to help them apply the benefits that are available for insured policy holders — but we can’t — and their investment is typically lost.
It is unfortunate that there were some roadblocks with the processing of your claim. However, we are pleased that you are now fully recovered, ready to travel again and have been reimbursed for your missed trip to Madagascar.