I injured my shoulder. Now why is Trip Mate dragging its feet to pay my claim?

When Ulrike Lartey injures her shoulder, she is forced to cancel a trip to the Caribbean. But even though she has a valid travel insurance claim, Trip Mate refuses to pay it. Can our advocates persuade Trip Mate to reimburse her covered expenses?

Question: Using a travel agent, I paid $2,549 for a trip to Anthony’s Key Resort in Honduras. The fee included airfares on United Airlines, travel insurance through Trip Mate, scuba diving, snorkeling, shore excursions and beach time. Then I had to cancel my trip because I had to have surgery for a shoulder injury.

I made a claim on my Trip Mate policy for the full cost of the trip, sending the company documentation from my doctors attesting that the surgery was required and prevented me from taking the trip.

Trip Mate did not pay the claim, but requested more documentation from me and my travel agent. Yet every time we sent Trip Mate new documents, we were met with claims for yet more documents. Among its demands was information about my mother, who died many years ago. Trip Mate wanted to know about the care she received in a nursing home prior to her death. I have no idea how information about my mother’s care could possibly be related to my claim.

After my travel agent and I sent Trip Mate’s agent all the documents they requested, we were told that they hadn’t received the documents and that we needed to send them again. We faxed and e-mailed the documents twice because Trip Mate claimed that our first e-mail didn’t reach them.

When we called Trip Mate, we were given only the first name of an employee who is processing my claim, but the representative to whom we spoke would not transfer our call to that employee.

All of these delays are ridiculous. Can you get Trip Mate to pay the claim? — Ulrike Lartey, Oracle, Ariz.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your injury and the delays in your receiving reimbursement for your lost trip expenses. Trip Mate literally added insult to your injury in repeatedly asking you for documentation without at least giving you a status update as to when you could expect your claim to be resolved. The company has a “B” rating from the Better Business Bureau, with 67 percent of its customer reviews being negative and 193 complaints against it as of this writing.

Its claims page indicates that it needs the following information to process a claim for a canceled trip prior to departure:

Payment Information – a copy of your trip itinerary and copies of all invoices, credit card statements and cleared checks evidencing your payment for the trip.

Refund Information – original unused nonrefundable tickets; copies of invoices, credit card statements or other written documentation substantiating the non-refundable costs for your air, land or cruise travel arrangements (retain originals for your records) and a copy of the travel supplier’s literature that details the terms and conditions (i.e. refunds given when a trip is canceled).

Cause of Your Trip Cancellation – any documentation substantiating the reason you canceled your trip (i.e. such as a death certificate in the event [of] death; for a sickness or injury, signed Attending Physician Statement and Authorization for Release of Information forms which are included with your claim form).

Since you provided signed documents from your doctors that substantiated that you had an injury that required immediate care and necessitated your cancellation, along with your itinerary, invoices and payment information, Trip Mate should have processed your claim without delay. Instead, it jerked you around by forcing you to resubmit your information multiple times and refusing to let you speak to the person handling your claim. And its demands for information about your mother make no sense whatsoever except as a delaying tactic. Clearly Trip Mate had its own reason (aka “profit motive”) for not wanting to pay your claim.

After you contacted our advocacy team for help, we contacted your insurance broker, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. We learned that you selected a coverage limit of $2,000 at the time you purchased your policy, which is less than your claim amount of $2,549 and helps account for Trip Mate’s delay in paying the entire claim.

You have notified us that you have received reimbursement from Trip Mate for your full claim up to the $2,000 limit.

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