Is her Trip Mate check really in the mail?

Judith Hoffman canceled a cruise when she needed a knee replacement. She’s still waiting for Trip Mate to pay her claim. Trip Mate won’t tell her when it will resolve her case. Can our advocates do anything to get a reimbursement check to Hoffman?

Question

My husband and I planned a cruise last year, but we had to cancel it when I needed knee replacement surgery. We purchased our cruise for $3,551 through AAA and a Trip Mate travel insurance policy through Pleasant Holidays.

At the end of last October, I filed a claim on our travel insurance policy. I submitted all the required forms plus a doctor’s statement that I could not travel to Trip Mate. But I have yet to receive the reimbursement.

I have called Trip Mate several times, but none of its agents will tell me when I can expect a payment on my claim. The agents will not let me speak to a manager although I have requested this several times. All they will tell me is that they are “still processing the claim.” Nobody has asked me for additional information, so I don’t understand what’s holding things up.

Our agent at AAA has contacted Trip Mate and Pleasant Holidays several times with no more success. Can you help me get Trip Mate to finish “processing” the claim and send me a reimbursement check? — Judith Hoffman, Mendota Heights, Minn.

Answer

I’m sorry that you were injured and unable to go on your cruise. Our readers will applaud your purchase of travel insurance at the time you planned your trip. Travel insurance provides reimbursement for various costs that travelers might incur when unexpected circumstances arise. You might have used Trip Mate’s “View Claim Status” website feature to check out the status of your claim.

Related story:   When a flight delay results in an involuntary downgrade, is a refund due?

But it shouldn’t have taken this long for Trip Mate to complete its review of your claim. I agree that you should have received a reimbursement check by now. Alternatively, Trip Mate should have notified you if it needed any other documentation to approve the payment. It should not have kept you in the dark.

Where is her Trip Mate check?

By keeping you waiting without a response, Trip Mate’s agents violated the assurances on the company’s website that

When you report a claim you can expect that:

  • customer service representatives will be available around the clock with average telephone hold times of less than one minute;
  • all calls will be returned on the day you call or the next day at the latest
The importance of a paper trail

Your situation emphasizes the need for a paper trail, which documents your interactions with the company. A complete paper trail would establish your obligations to Trip Mate, and vice versa. This would include an estimated date for Trip Mate to approve your claim and send you the check.

The lack of a paper trail may be one of the reasons Trip Mate delayed processing your claim. All your communications with Trip Mate after you filed the claim took place by telephone. Unfortunately, when the only interactions between companies and customers are verbal, it’s impossible to prove what happened.

Three “P’s” of consumer advocacy

Our advocates always advise that three qualities drive businesses to resolve consumer complaints: patience, persistence, politeness.

After 60 days passed from the date you filed your claim without your receiving a payment, you asked us for help. Our advocate, Dwayne Coward, suggested that you send polite inquiries about your claim to two email addresses, customerservice@travelclaimsonline.com and claimssupport@travelclaimsonline.com. Coward advised that if you didn’t receive a response within three days, you should write the primary contact listed on our website for Trip Mate. And if that person didn’t respond within a reasonable time, you should escalate your case to the next highest-ranking executive.

Related story:   I injured my shoulder. Now why is Trip Mate dragging its feet to pay my claim?
Processing the claim

You wrote to one of the emails on Jan. 22, and another agent of Trip Mate responded on Jan. 26. This person replied that “[your] claim is in the final stages of review. Please allow some additional time for completion.” You forwarded this email to Coward, asking whom to contact next.

Coward replied that this email was probably a response to a prior contact. He advised you to allow Trip Mate more time to reply to your Jan. 22 email.

Luckily, you took our advice. A few days later, you heard from the primary contact that Trip Mate had sent you the check.

How long should it take a travel insurance company to process a claim?

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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.

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