Help, my travel insurance company won’t answer the phone!

wallIt’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: You’re in trouble, so you reach for your phone to call your travel insurance company. The line rings. And rings. And rings.

No one answers.

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This nightmare scenario happened to David Miller when his travel documents went missing. He tried to call Access America through its collect number. No one was home.

Here are the unfortunate details:

I purchased a travel package through European Destinations (apparently also known as Solar Tours) which included travel insurance. The insurance is supposed to include assistance in the event that travel documents are lost.

Nineteen hours before our return flight home, my partner’s passport was stolen. In the event that it’s necessary to prove it, we have the police report from Palma Nova, Mallorca, Spain.

The trouble arose when we attempted to reach insurance company, Access America, via the collect number provided to us for use during the trip. As a matter of fact we tried calling all the numbers provided to us and were told that calls to those numbers could not be completed.

It is my contention that if I cannot reach the insurance company when their assistance is needed (and presumably guaranteed), then I’m essentially uninsured. As such, I’ve requested a refund of the cost of the insurance.

Miller asked for his money back — repeatedly. He didn’t make a claim. He just wanted a refund on the policy.

I started a long string of contacts between the Solar Tours and Access America. I have a return receipt from the post office indicating that Access America had received the paperwork I sent them on September 30. When I tried to follow up via phone on November 2 they had no record of my request, but promised answers within three business days. Two weeks later I’ve still not heard anything from them, and honestly don’t expect to.

Any assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

His request seems reasonable. If your travel insurance company isn’t available to you when you need it, what’s the point.

So I contacted Access America on Miller’s behalf. A few days later, I heard from the company.

We are sorry that Mr. Miller was unable to reach us during his trip. We are at a loss to explain how this may have occurred as our travel assistance center is staffed 24/7/365.

Regardless, we have refunded his premium to his travel agency and the agency should be passing that refund on to him shortly. We apologize for any inconvenience Mr. Miller may have suffered.

Was Access America really asleep at the wheel, or was this a problem with the Spanish phone system? It’s hard to say. I think — I hope — someone just dialed the wrong prefix. But either way, Access America did the right thing by issuing a refund.

(Photo: Scouse and Joules/Flickr Creative Commons)