Victims of unlicensed travel insurance strike back in class action suit

Looks as if the unlicensed insurance scandal — that’s right, the one that got me sued for defamation earlier this year — isn’t over yet.

As I reported earlier this week, Florida appeared to conclude its investigation with a surprise consent order against Revelex, an online booking company.

But now Revelex, as well as several individuals and travel agencies who are alleged to have been involved in the sale of these unlicensed insurance products are on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit (PDF) filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court (case number BC447277).

The list of defendants is long, but it includes some names that will be familiar to readers of this site, including Prime Travel Protection, Smart Travel Group and Vacation Superstore Network, as well as their principals.

The case, which has been filed by Edwin Stewart Trebbe and seeks class action status, alleges certain companies named in his suit knowingly sold a “phony travel insurance policy”. Trebbe, a California resident, bought a Prime Travel Protection policy and claims that he suffered a loss covered under the terms of the plan “and has made a claim for benefits thereunder which has not been paid in full,” according to the complaint. Others are alleged to have been negligent in selling what they should have known was a phony product, the suit also says.

From the suit,

On or about November 15, 2007, plaintiff Trebbe purchased a vacation package including cruise tickets through defendant BPC [Best Price Cruises], which operated under the direction and control of defendant Russo.

The trip was for himself and his wife and was scheduled for September, 2008. BPC, in accordance with the instructions of Russo, advised plaintiff that his purchase of the vacation package included a [Prime Travel Protection] travel insurance policy that would protect him and his wife from loss of the amount paid for the package in the event they had to cancel or cut short their trip due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, as well as other coverages.

Based upon this advice, plaintiff Trebbe chose to forego purchasing travel insurance from another travel insurer. Through BPC, plaintiff and his wife were issued PTP policy number BPC97555 (“PTP policy”). [The policy] states, among other things, that “Cancel For Any Reason Option Included.”

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group. Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Plaintiff is further informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that the premium was equal to ten percent of the $4,604.12 price he paid to BPC for the vacation package, or at least $460.41.

In August, 2008 plaintiff suffered a severe back problem which caused his doctor to advise him to cancel the vacation he and his wife had purchased through BPC.

This claim was covered under the PTP policy. Plaintiff notified PTP of this development, that he and his wife had to cancel their vacation, and performed all of his obligations under the policy. However, PTP denied plaintiff’s claim, and plaintiff’s claim remains unpaid.

The 51-page complaint charges some or all of the defendants with unfair competition, elder abuse, negligence, breach of contract and fraud.

I would be remiss if I didn’t notice the reference to the defamation lawsuit against me on page 6 of the complaint.

[Lee] Smolinski, with and through his attorney, Daniel Newman (who also represents Revelex) has engaged in various activity to cover up the fraudulent nature of the travel insurance policies sold by his companies, including but not limited to threatening or bringing one or more unsuccessful lawsuits for defamation against members of the press and at least one customer who dared speak about this fraudulent scheme.

Stay tuned for more …

(Photo A. Rouvin/Flickr Creative Commons)


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