Does travel insurance cover a presidential vacation interruption?

Here’s a question you don’t get every day: What happens when the president of the United States interrupts your vacation? Who do you call?

Stephen Barrasso wants to know. So do I.

“My wife and I booked a trip with Vantage Travel to Cuba,” he says. “As a part of the itinerary, we were scheduled to be in Havana for four nights, staying at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Coincidentally, President Obama was also going to stay at the Nacional. We were told that we could stay at the Nacional for one night and then would be moved to an all-inclusive resort three hours outside of Havana.”

That’s right. Barrasso was in Havana at the same time as the president’s historic visit. How exciting.

How … not exciting.

“While at the resort, we were told that Havana would be closed for us to return for sightseeing,” he recalls. ” Also mentioned was the possibility of the airport being closed, hindering our charter back to Miami. On virtually a moment’s notice, while driving out of the resort on a sightseeing venture, we were told by Vantage to go back to the resort, pack, and drive to the airport for a 9:30 p.m. charter back to Miami. Vantage said they would take care of getting air back to our home city.”

Well, that sounds more like an evacuation than a change of plans.

Barrasso and his party arrived in Miami late and were transported to a hotel. “I had to pay for the flight back to Boston and the hotel,” he says.

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Who should pay for his expenses? Sometimes, people do send a bill to the president, as a small town in Vermont did back in 2012 when it sent Barack Obama a $4,200 bill for extra police protection during a fundraiser. Technically, Barrasso could have billed the White House for the costs incurred from being booted from his hotel.

But wait, doesn’t he have insurance? Doesn’t insurance cover a trip interruption? And isn’t this a trip interruption?

Well, it turns out he had insurance through Allianz. Barrasso filed a claim. Denied. The reason?

Unfortunately, the denial of your claim was proper based on the terms of your insuring agreement.

As your insuring agreement indicated, this is a named perils travel insurance program, which means it covers only the specific situations, events and losses included in this document, and only under the conditions we describe.

Unfortunately, the cause of your interruption is not included among those reasons.

Our advocacy team thought there must be a mistake. His trip was definitely interrupted in a major way by an executive event. While it may not be a named reason, it should be. We asked Allianz to review the denial one more time.

I’m sorry that Mr. Barrasso was inconvenienced on his trip to Cuba. It does appear from the letter below from his travel supplier, that his trip was not interrupted due to a reason covered by his travel insurance policy. A change in itinerary would not be a circumstance that travel insurance covers.

Also, from the letter below, it appears that Mr. Barrasso was offered an alternative itinerary which he declined to accept and he did receive a refund for the missed days of his trip.

Ah-ha! Turns out there’s more to the story and Barrasso did receive something.

Why, then, are we writing about this? Because it’s so odd.

Yes, those are human teeth marks on my dog.

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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. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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