I have a valid claim, so why won’t my travel insurance pay?

Tami Miller filed her travel insurance claim more than two years ago. Why hasn’t Allianz paid?

Question: Two years ago, I was scheduled to travel to Omaha, Neb., to stay with my mother and provide postoperative care for a week. My return flight was scheduled a week later.

My mother had complications after surgery which not only lengthened her hospital stay, but also required me to lengthen my trip to take care of her at home when she returned from the hospital.

I changed my return date to fly back a week later than scheduled, so I could give my mother two weeks of care at home instead of one. The cost to change my return flight was $360 — a $200 change fee, plus $130 fare difference and $30 processing fee.

I filed a claim with Allianz pursuant to “Trip Interruption due to Nonmedical Reasons.” The cause for filing the claim is stated in section 2 of the travel insurance policy. Per a letter submitted by my mother’s physician, my mother required extended hospitalization and she required my care upon release due to her complications.

I have submitted this letter and other information to Allianz. But they just continue to ask for more information. Now they want a form completed that requires information from the hospital about my mother’s surgery and complications, despite having the letter from her physician.

This situation has taken a lot of my time and my mother is still having health problems so I don’t want to continue asking her to chase down more information.

Two different Allianz agents, prior to me changing my flight, told me that I would simply need a letter from the physician explaining the situation to file a claim. I hope you can help get Allianz to honor what I believe is a valid claim. — Tami Miller, Malvern, Pa.

Answer: Allianz should have paid this claim long ago. So why didn’t it?

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Section 2 of your insurance policy says you’re covered when a family member who isn’t traveling with you is seriously ill or injured.

“Specific requirement,” it adds. “The injury, illness or medical condition must be considered life threatening, require hospitalization, or he or she must require your care.”

That looks like a covered reason to you — and to me.

So what’s the hold-up? You say two representatives told you a doctor’s letter would be enough to process the claim, but then another representative asked for additional details. Insurance companies are well within their rights to request this documentation, although they should also make every effort to resolve a claim in a timely manner. Two years is too long.

I list the Allianz customer service contacts on my consumer advocacy site. Reaching out to one of them in writing might have helped move your claim along. But you can’t waive a paperwork requirement in the way you want. A company like Allianz must show its underwriters that it processed a valid claim.

I contacted Allianz on your behalf.

“We have been waiting for her to send us the required documentation we need to finalize her claim,” a representative told me. “The number one reason that claims are delayed is lack of proper documentation. In this case, we have decided to approve Ms. Miller’s claim based on the documentation we have.”

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • Joe Blasi

    $200 change fee + an added $30 fee on top of that?

  • Ben

    I came here to say the exact same thing. That’s like charging a shipping fee + a packaging fee… you could make the argument that they’re distinct things, but nobody would buy it.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    delay, delay, delay, and hope the customer goes away !

  • cscasi

    Perhaps he used a OTA to purchase his ticket and it charged the extra $30 for reprocessing his ticket. Can’t tell from this article as it does not sate whether he purchased his ticket from the airline or not.

  • cscasi

    I am not sure why this dragged on for two years, either. However, had I been Tami Miller, I would have called Allianz and spoke with the claims department to find out exactly what it was that they needed and/or ensured it send me the form(s) it needed to have completed and got those taken care of so the claim could be processed. There is not enough here for us to know exactly what transpired, so I can only guess there was some required form/letter needed that was missing. Certainly, two years is ridiculous, but as Chris mentioned, “Reaching out to one of them in writing might have helped move your claim along. But you can’t waive a paperwork requirement in the way you want. A company like Allianz must show its underwriters that it processed a valid claim.”
    In any case I am glad her claim was finally paid, albeit almost 2 years from when she filed it.

  • Annie M

    I agree – there is more to the story than we see. And she is lucky that they paid because they usually close a claim after a year if they haven’t received what they need.

  • PsyGuy

    Not trying to defend Allianz, but this is just human error, someone forgot and it slipped through the cracks.

  • RightNow9435

    With the fare difference, change fee, and bogus fee, that’s $360…..and I am seeing plenty of Omaha to Philly one-way flights for $160-250, Think she should have just booked a new flight

  • michael anthony

    Frankly, the claim is from the OP, not her mother. A signed doctors note giving the basics should have been enough. I find it extremely offensive that they want so much information on her mother’s illness and recovery. The mother has a right to privacy and there are many illnesses that people want to keep private. A physician puts their license on the line even writing the simplest of letters. Had this claim been for tens of thousands, perhaps yes, a bit more info. But for this sum? It’s ridiculous and an affront to patient privacy and dignity. The hospitalization dates, and then a statement such as “due to complications, recovery with family assistance for another x number of days” should have satisfied them.

  • Lindabator

    fare difference – most folks never realize that the fares DO have different rates in addition to the change fees

  • Lindabator

    a lot of times, I do just that for my clients

  • Lindabator

    ask for forms and she doesn’t send in — you HAVE to have the documentation, or the claim sits in limbo

  • sirwired

    A doctor’s letter is enough IF it has sufficient detail for the claim to be granted. If the doctor left out something that the insurance company needs to know (for instance, information to make a call on a pre-ex exclusion), then yes, the insurance company is going to need more information.

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