Why won’t travel insurance cover my flight delay?

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By Christopher Elliott

AXA Assistance USA promises John Schwegel that it will cover the cost of a ticket home after his flight is delayed. But then it doesn’t. How do you persuade your travel insurance to change its mind?

Question

I recently flew to New Zealand and back. I purchased a travel insurance policy through AXA Assistance USA.

On my return flight from Christchurch to San Diego via Auckland and Los Angeles, the Jetstar Airlines flight took off more than an hour late because of operational problems. I missed the flight from Auckland to Los Angeles and my final connection to San Diego.

I called the AXA assistance number from Auckland and a representative told me they would either reimburse me $200 per day for expenses waiting for another American Airlines flight or pay up to $1,000 if I purchased another ticket.

A $1,357 flight resulted in me arriving in San Diego more than 13 hours later than my original flights. My claim was denied. I’ve filed an appeal, but haven’t heard anything yet. Can you help me get the promised reimbursement? — John Schwegel, Wayzata, Minn.

Answer:

Finding the right travel insurance isn’t easy. When a travel insurance company representative says you’re covered, you should be covered. AXA should have reimbursed you for your expenses as promised. You should have only needed to file a claim, nothing more. (Here’s a guide to help you fix your own consumer problem).

Your first claim was turned down because the company required a 12-hour delay. AXA’s records suggested — incorrectly, it turns out — that you were delayed less than half a day.

This looks like a simple misunderstanding. In fact, you were held up 13 hours, according to your records. Even if AXA is correct, and it measures a “delay” differently, it would still be wrong. That’s because one of its representatives already told you to buy a replacement ticket, essentially agreeing to cover your costs.

Flying Angels provide medical transport anywhere in the world on commercial airlines with a Flight Nurse or Doctor. A Flight Coordinator handles the logistics. The client receives care during the entire transport—bedside to bedside. Visit FlyingAngels.com or call 877-265-1085 to speak with a flight coordinator.

I know some of you reading this will say the written rules of a policy supersede the words of any employee. But I disagree. I think if an AXA representative tells you that you’re covered, you should be covered.

By the way, you can find the names, numbers and emails of all the insurance companies on my consumer advocacy site.

If your appeal is denied, you can use the contacts to get another look. But it didn’t come to that. My advocacy team contacted AXA on your behalf. It reviewed your file and decided to honor your claim. AXA paid you the $1,000 policy limit.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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