Mugged in Mexico! Can Trip Mate make good on this claim?

After Lynn Strough is assaulted in Mexico, her travel insurance company is slow to cover her losses. Can our advocates help?

Question: I have been traveling as a nomad around the world for the past two and a half years and have paid 10 percent of my shoestring budget for annual travel insurance (a total of $3,150). My policy is with World Nomads, administered by Trip Mate.

About a month ago, I was assaulted in Mexico. I was injured during the assault, and my purse was stolen. My iPhone, along with cash and my identification (and other items) were taken as well. This traumatic experience has been tough on me, and now I am having difficulties with my travel insurance. Trip Mate is delaying payment on the claim.

The maximum amount my policy will cover for stolen electronics is $500, even though the replacement for my iPhone is over $1,000. None of my other personal items are covered, since they do not fit the “criteria.” I am OK with that – my phone is my most important possession. I have been going back and forth with Trip Mate for a month now, and every time I hear back (it is slow to respond), it asks for more information, and some of it is a duplicate of what was already submitted.

I sent in the required form with the police report. It was in Spanish, so Trip Mate wanted me to have the police department translate it into English. They only speak Spanish here. Then Trip Mate asked for my original phone purchase receipt and an estimate of the replacement cost. It wanted me to mail this information rather than submit it online, but in Mexico, that is nearly impossible.

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Next, it requested proof that I actually paid for the travel policy by showing the credit card charge. That one I did not get at all. It has my policy number and should know if the policy was paid. Trip Mate then asked for a copy of my round trip flight itinerary, and if it did not originate in the U.S., a copy of my U.S. driver’s license, which was stolen. It would not accept a copy of my passport, because (according to Trip Mate) it does not provide proof of residency. And now it is asking for a written note from my cell phone provider stating that I don’t have coverage.

All of these separate requests are unreasonable. Trip Mate has made it so difficult, that now I am questioning whether travel insurance is worthwhile.

As a travel writer and blogger, I use my phone for sharing my travels, photos, and communicating with the world on social media. I cannot afford to replace it until I receive payment from the insurance company.

Do you have any advice on how to speed up the claim process and make it less painful? — Lynn Strough, San Felipe de Agua Oaxaca, Mexico

Answer: Let me begin by saying my heart goes out to you for what you experienced in Mexico. Being assaulted is a scary ordeal and leaves behind a feeling of apprehension that only time can heal. It is regrettable that you are now having to wrestle with the insurance company.

When you purchase insurance of any kind, proof of loss is required. Trip Mate received that information. More documentation may be needed, but delaying the process and asking for duplicate information can make you question what Trip Mate’s game plan really is.

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According to Trip Mate’s required documentation for evidence of a loss of personal property, it states:

When personal items are lost or stolen, you must provide the date of purchase. If you are not sure of the exact date, provide the month and year of purchase. For items over $100 in value which have been lost or stolen, you must provide documentation of the original purchase price. If the original receipt is not available, benefits will be calculated based upon 75 percent of the Actual Cash Value at the time of loss.

Why did Trip Mate ask to have the police department translate their report into English? It provides multilingual interpretation as one of its benefits, which means that it should be able to translate the report.

Travel insurance can be an asset, especially when traveling abroad or on a costly trip, but as you found out, there are exclusions and limits on what it will pay. It is important to read the fine print when choosing a policy. You seemed to have done a great job on keeping a paper trail, which is integral when filing a claim.

Trip Mate should not have delayed processing your claim, leaving you without a phone for over a month, especially in light of what you have just been through. It should have been straightforward with what was required.

This segues to another area this case brings to light, and that is safety when traveling. There is always something to be learned from what others have experienced. Assaults can happen anywhere at any time — even the savviest of travelers (like you) have become victims. That was a harrowing experience, and we are thankful you are recovering from your injuries.

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This serves as a reminder that before traveling to an unknown destination, it is well worth the time to get the facts on the area you plan to visit. Find out what the crime rate is and if any travel warnings or alerts have been issued. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid traveling to that location, but knowing the risks will enable you to better protect yourself and your family and determine the best location to stay.

For country-specific information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website, or check out the various travel guides.

Thankfully, we can close this story with some good news. Our intrepid advocates contacted Trip Mate and received a response (in two days) that your claim will now be processed. You will be receiving a payment of $585. Hopefully, this is one more step toward putting this all behind you.

Stephanie Patterson

Stephanie is a published book author and travel columnist with a focus on preparation and protocol. She is committed to helping travelers be informed and avoid potential problems while traveling. Stephanie's most recent book is "Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad". For travel insight when planning your trip, visit Know Before You Go Travel. Along with writing, Stephanie does interior designing.

  • AAGK

    Those are standard documentation requests and can all be easily printed. Of course it wants your phone receipt, how else would it know what you paid? Also, surely a travel blogger knows Mail is not impossible in Mexico. Growing up I went to camp with several Mexican campers and they received mail all the time.

    Why was your iPhone so expensive? I would also consider insuring your phone with your carrier for an extra couple of bucks/mo as you are traveling.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Over $1000 for an iPhone? There’s only one model that costs that much and that’s the absolute top of the line (iPhone 7 Plus 256GB), and only if you paid substantial sales tax as well.

  • finance_tony

    Nomads need iPhones.

  • Chris Johnson

    What a scam of a company. They want proof that you paid for their policy? What kind of business are they running? She has a policy number, that should tell them if she paid them. That just blows my mind, it makes them sound like a boiler room-style operation. Then they are throwing in every possible excuse not to pay her with all these unreasonable requests, like a copy of the drivers license instead of a passport. That makes no sense. I have a feeling they would have never paid her if this story didn’t get published on this website.

  • Bill___A

    But the point is, that there is an iPhone that’s over $1000. I have one of those.

  • Bill___A

    Prices of iPHones are easily obtainable. The company was being unreasonable on many fronts. She went through a traumatizing experience, the insurance company made it worse. I’m glad was able to help out – but not sure why they are pointing out the advisories. Mexico has a huge crime problem, as do many other countries.

  • sirwired

    I will point out that trip insurance policies are designed to operate for reimbursement; they don’t expect you to wait for your claim payment before, say, buying your new phone. They figure most people file claims after they get home. That wasn’t the case here, but the fact of the matter is that the process simply isn’t designed for time-sensitive claims.

    I will say that I’ve gotten the request for the credit card statement on which the insurance was purchased, and I don’t really understand that one either… the other requests seem reasonable. It’s true that a passport doesn’t tell the insurance company where you live, just that you are a US Citizen. And it makes sense they want you to verify you don’t have insurance through your cell company. But yeah, they should have been able to get that document translated on their own.

  • Annie M

    Glad you were able to help her. TripMate was being unreasonable with their requests. These are the type of issues Elliott is here for- folks who have been wronged by a company through no fault of their own.

  • AAGK

    How do they know it wasn’t a refurbished or a used one. The issue isn’t what iPhones cost, the issue is what she lost specifically. Insurance 101 is a receipt proving you own the thing you lost.

  • AAGK

    Also, iPhone prices are not uniform. How do we know she owns the phone and isn’t leading it or what amount of storage it contained. The insurance company needs to see that. It’s a piece of paper in her email, hardly difficult to locate.

  • AAGK

    The insurance company made it worse by paying her? No one files an insurance claim when things are going well. That is the nature of insurance. Insurance companies only hear about illness and fires and theft so while traumatizing to her, it’s just another day at Tripmate.

  • Jenny Zopa

    Sad that it takes the intervention of a consumer advocate website and public shaming to get a lot of these companies to pay what they owe in the first place. It seems ripping off consumers is a standard business practice these days. Sad!

  • greg watson

    why do many companies ‘hide’ important requirements in small print ? ………………………to reduce paying out claims & making more profit……………….it’s the American way. Even in grocery stores, that have in large print, ONLY $5.99 while in small print it states ‘when 3 purchased’. Advertising should be in 1 size easily readable print, & contacts should also ** the most important features to the consumer. lol

  • Michael__K

    “Those are standard documentation requests and can all be easily printed.

    Is it really standard for the insurer to ask the policy holder to send the credit charge showing proof that she paid for the policy which the insurer should already have the records showing she paid for?

    And it doesn’t matter how easily something can be printed if the insurer insists on the original document. Her original phone purchase receipt is probably not in Mexico, and she may not have a mailing address in Mexico that someone else could readily and reliably send the original to.


    What a nightmare. Requesting proof that she paid for the insurance? This is not a company that I would do business with in the future.

  • AAGK

    If her original phone purchase receipt isn’t in Mexico on her iPhone then it’s not s real iPhone and 1k is a ridic demand. They email you the receipt in the store or for online orders. Her iPhone has email. Her receipt can also be found logging into her Apple account. The proof of insurance request is a little weird but I doubt that was the document at issue.

  • AAGK

    No such thing as an original iPhone receipt. It’s sent to you in store in you email.

  • Michael__K

    Her phone is in the hands of the thief. I assume they mean her copy of a signed credit card slip or invoice. If no such paper would even exist, then the insurer’s request for an “original” document which they refuse to accept electronically is all the more ridiculous.

  • Rebecca

    Prices of new iPhones are easily obtainable. So are resale prices, refurbished priced, unlocked phone prices, the list goes on and on. How in the world is the insurance company supposed to calculate the value of her loss without documentation? The policy explicitly states it pays 75% of actual cash value with no receipt – which is 75% of the cost of a used phone on the resale market. She’s looking to replace it with a new one. It doesn’t work like that.

  • James Moninger

    “My phone is my most important possession.” Wow …

  • michael anthony

    I’m not so sure. Insurance companies pretty much play by the same sort of rules.
    In this case, you have probably have the top of the line IPhone available to non celebs. Thus, they are going to ask for more proof. All of the requests were reasonable, especially the Drivers license. A passport doesn’t always have current address. The DL should be up to date within x days of moving. They are trying to establish they are dealing with the true owner and not the thief.

    Their requests are valid, and the responses from the OP are valid. The only issue I have, is the length of time getting this resolved. Unless you’re dealing with millions of dollars, a rather straightforward case should be settled within a day or two.

    I’ve seen it recommended before, and this case is a good example. When you go on a trip, email a copy of your original receipts for your valuables that you are bringing, and store them in an email folder. If you are robbed of your phone, you can stop in any business where you can use a computer and printout your receipts. Ive had tobdi this twice abdvin both cases, the hotels assusted or gave me free use of busibess cebter to pull the cocuments together.

  • Chris Johnson

    Okay, you made a good case about the drivers license vs the passport. But proof that Ms. Strough paid for the policy, when she already has a policy number to give them? Come on! If they need that kind of proof when they can simply look up her policy number in the computer and see if her premiums are paid up, this company does not have its act together at all and I’d be extremely wary about doing business with them ever again.

  • Fishplate

    If it’s how you make your living, as in the case of the OP, then it can be very important.

  • Byron Cooper

    It is reasonable for insurance company to request proof that the OP does not have insurance through the carrier, because that insurance would be primary and Trip Mate would cover the deductible. The iPhone 7# is close to $1000 and possibly more with Apple Care. Apple will refund part of the Apple Care if the phone is stolen, so the OP should contact Apple for a possible prorated refund. I had a medical emergency on a Viking Cruise this year. The cruise insurance company asked for pretty much the same information except proof of residency. That said, they paid promptly. I can see why they wanted proof of payment in my case, since there would have been a question of whether the medical problem was pre-existing. Since I purchased the insurance at the time of booking the cruise, there were no exclusions. That is important to keep in mind when purchasing travel insurance.

  • gpx21dlr

    All that aggravation for $600? Pooh.

  • The Original Joe S

    TripMate now goes on my dirtbag list of avoidance.

    They are like Bells Forego who jerked my friend around on a re-fi with repetitive askings for stuff they already had, and “magnanimously” said they’d extend the lock-in period as if they were doing him a big favor for adhering to their agreement. This was because he was in Bangkok with me, and they figured they could jerk him around. These wankers bought my local bank, and I flushed them like I would flush any similar undesirable, brown, smelly item.

  • The Original Joe S

    What is the big deal with the address? Should be ON FILE with the dirtbags. Passport identifies the person. Address is irrelevant here.
    They are weasels. Thanks to Chris for this blog, which lets me add these dirbags to the dump list.

  • The Original Joe S

    They have their act together. Their act is “Jerk the customer”.

  • The Original Joe S

    What difference does it make where you live? What address did the dirtbags use to send the BILL?

  • The Original Joe S

    Home Desperate: ½ in diameter wood pole $1.67. Grabbed an 8 foot pole. $13.36 rang up. “What’s this?” “oh, it’s per foot.” [ Was in microscopic type on the tag NEAR THE FLOOR. ] “Sorry, I left my magnifying glass in the car. Keep it. Bye.”

  • The Original Joe S

    Too bad we can’t bring our .45 ACPs to Mexico. So, I’ll avoid Mexico, just like I avoid other places that make you be a victim.

  • AAGK

    No such paper exists for an iPhone. You electronically sign with your finger and it is emailed to you. All she had to do was check her email.

  • sirwired

    The regulations (and often the terms themselves) that apply to a policy depend on the state of legal residence of the purchaser. And, very often, different underwriters pay claims for different states. (A marketer/processor like TripMate, might operate in all fifty states, but the underwriters that pay claims may not be nationwide.)

    The billing address is not good enough, as you might very well have a policy mailed to you while on travel.

  • greg watson

    I thought that you may have said ‘ shove it’, but it is a fairly long pole !

  • The Original Joe S

    Well, they only had 8 foot poles. I really wanted an eleven foot pole for touching stuff I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  • The Original Joe S

    I can’t write here what mine is……….. :-)

  • Mel65

    If she is and she says living pneumatically traveling around without a standard base of operations, so to speak then her iPhone would definitely be here most important position. Sounds like she needs it to do her blogging and to keep in touch with her family or whoever back home etc. as well as taking pictures for her travel blogging, so that part of the story didn’t bother me at all. It makes sense to me that her external connection would be very important to her.

  • joycexyz

    Yeah, I didn’t get the part about sending proof of payment for the policy. Makes no sense, except as a “delay, delay, hope you’ll go away” tactic. If she bought the phone through her service provider or at the Apple store, they should have a record of the purchase available online. And anyone who’s traveling all the time needs to have a single place or designated individual at home who receives her mail and can get in touch with her.

  • joycexyz

    All the better!

  • joycexyz

    Depends whether you’re paying or receiving.

  • AAGK

    Well you are on an extended vacation. I am super jealous I cannot go away so long but I can Fedex when I take a holiday if robbed. Also, why not insure your phone with your carrier for a couple of bucks a month since it is so important. I have just 68 gb but I get the

  • AAGK

    . I am sorry I offended. I didn’t intend to sound mean. I get what you are saying. It is increasingly difficult to live an affordable existence in the US. Ideally, you could find something reliable US based that you could do remotely while traveling so that you don’t have to deal with the ridiculous cost of living here. It sounds like you have interesting experiences to share. In the interim, your phone is your everything right now. Find a way to get it specifically insured, even if you lose it. It’s your lifeline now. Also, make sure you keep a list of the American contact numbers for your credit card, healthcare, bank, folks to call in an emergency, American embassy, airline etc, listed in your suitcase in case this happens again so it won’t be as overwhelming to get up and running. Good luck in your travels

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