Remember the Prime Travel Protection scandal? You know, the one involving fraudulent insurance policies, scores of denied claims and an investigation by state regulators?
Well, there’s good news and bad news. First the bad: After initially moving to stop the company, investigations by Colorado and Florida appear to be going nowhere. To date, there have been no substantive charges filed against anyone involved in the sale of these bogus policies.
But there’s also good news. Florida’s investigation hasn’t been closed, according to sources, and at least one agency involved in the sale of these unlicensed policies seems to be trying to make amends with its customers. People like Margarita Sasse, who booked a cruise and then found herself with an unexpected medical bill.
Last year we we sailed on a 12-day Northern Europe cruise on the Carnival Splendor, booked through Legendary Journeys.
My husband became ill and incurred medical expenses in the amount of $360. We were insured and filed a claim with Traveler Protection Services, Inc.. We received a response on November 28, 2008 from Universal Assurance Group, approving the claim and stating that they and Prime Travel Protection, Inc. had agreed to assume the claims liabilities of Traveler Protection Services, Inc.
They requested our patience and understanding. We wrote them on January 22, 2009 and reminded them we were still patiently waiting.
On February 23, 2009, the Counsel for Prime Travel Protection wrote us indicated that the company sought to make good on its obligations and appreciated our patience. We wrote them again on May 19, 2009 and received no response. We are still waiting.
I suggested Sasse get in touch with Legendary Journeys, which had indicated a willingness to help customers affected by the Prime mess.
Legendary Journeys responded promptly with the following offer:
Our offices have been reviewing your insurance claim per your instructions. It is our decision to offer you monetary reimbursement for your claim because of the payment delays you are currently experiencing.
Currently, we have no information on the validity of your claim from either Prime Travel Protection or Universal Assurance Group. Legendary Journeys does not know if your claim has been scheduled for repayment. Legendary Journeys does not know if your claim has been justifiably denied.
However, we understand that you have experienced a significant delay time with your claim and as a goodwill gesture we will offer you the full amount as outlined in the documentation provided by you on October 6, 2009. It is clear that you have had no contact with any member of Legendary Journeys since November 5, 2008 prior to enlisting the assistance of Chris Elliott. Prior to receiving communication from Mr. Elliott Legendary Journeys was unaware of your need of assistance on this claim.
Your claim amount of $360.80 will be paid by Legendary Journeys pending your agreement to the below terms & conditions. This agreement is forfeit if you do not return this original (we will not accept a copy) signed form within two weeks of the above date.
1. Client agrees to release Legendary Journeys of all liability concerning referenced trip.
2. Client agrees to not pursue further chargebacks or compensation from LJ on the trip outlined above (including legal action).
3. Client agrees to withdraw any open complaints against Legendary Journeys concerning this situation.
4. Client agrees that Legendary Journeys has amicably resolved any outstanding issues concerning referenced trip.
5. Client agrees to reimburse Legendary Journeys should any other payment be made on their claim as covered by Legendary Journeys.
5a. Should the client not reimburse Legendary Journeys the client is subject to the laws as outlined by Florida and their home State.
6. Client agrees that all statements made in this agreement are correct and factual.
Legendary Journeys apologies for the situation that has occurred with this insurance companies closure. I am confident you understand this is a 3rd party and we only act as a booking representative. As such the closure is beyond our control. However, we still are keenly aware of the effect of the closure and hope you agree this gesture has been made to demonstrate our commitment to you.
Sasse is happy with that outcome.
I’m relieved that the Prime Travel Protection fiasco is winding down. I hope travelers and travel agents have learned a valuable lesson about unlicensed travel “protection” and that they’ll only do business with a reputable travel insurance company.
But I know this industry too well. I know that’s wishful thinking.
(Photo: Miss Shari/Flickr Creative Commons)