When William Wisniewski books a trip from Philadelphia to New Orleans through Expedia, he thinks his travel insurance will cover him. He’s wrong. Can this trip be saved?
Question: I recently paid $670 for two airline tickets from Philadelphia to New Orleans through Expedia. I also bought the optional travel insurance for $84.
Just before my trip, I became ill and had to cancel. I have documentation from two physicians that I couldn’t travel. We are senior citizens and $670 is a lot of money to us. Can you help? — William Wisniewski, Blackwood, N.J.
Answer: Travel insurance comes with all kinds of — how shall I say this? — interesting restrictions. Among them: If your condition doesn’t fall under one of the “named” exclusions or if you have an existing medical condition, the policy isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
In other words, if you have a bad knee, and were afraid the knee might act up before your trip, a “named exclusion” policy won’t cover you.
You didn’t mention the reason for your cancellation, but something tells me it wasn’t good enough — at least initially — for Expedia’s insurance company to honor the claim. An appeal was necessary. I explain the entire appeals process in my frequently asked questions section about travel insurance on my site.
One more nitpick: Technically, you wouldn’t file your claim directly with Expedia, but rather through a third party. The policy you purchased, for example, was underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company. Still, Expedia should have figured out a way to help you file a claim through the insurance company instead of ignoring your request as you claim it did.
Permit me a quick rant. Why is it that large companies are so eager to sell you a policy, yet so hesitant to help you file a claim? They should be falling all over themselves to show you how valuable their travel “protection” is when something goes wrong. At the very least, they should send you a prompt and polite response when you ask about a claim.
By the way, you had every reason to believe you’d be taken care of. Expedia’s Total Protection Plan promises “coverage for unforeseen medical expenses,” which, on first read, certainly looks as if you’d be taken care of if you had to cancel for medical reasons. You have to read the fine print to find out that there are key exclusions.
There was only one thing to do: Send a direct email to an Expedia manager, asking them why the $84 policy you bought through its site was useless. You sent an email to one of the customer service managers from our consumer advocacy website.
In response, Expedia honored your entire claim. Your persistence. Our support. A winning combination.