October 25, 2020

Press on Your Side: Trip insurance wouldn’t pay up


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bildePress on Your Side: Trip insurance wouldn’t pay up when Jackson couple’s flight was canceled

By David P. Willis From APP.com

Nearly a year ago, Royal Caribbean’s ship Adventure of the Seas departed from Spain for a grand two-week cruise from Spain to San Juan.

Stops in the Canary Islands as well as Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas, were on the schedule.

Jackson residents Margaret and Edward Connelly were supposed to be on the ship, but they didn’t make it. Superstorm Sandy blew and washed their plans away. They were unable to fly to Spain to make their departure after the airline canceled the flight.

“We could not be there,” Margaret Connelly said. “It would have been phenomenal.”

But the Connellys had purchased trip cancellation insurance so they were covered, right? Unfortunately, their insurance carrier, Allianz Global Assistance, denied their claim. Connelly said she and her husband were out $2,432.65 – the cost of the cruise and a flight home from San Juan.

At least, until Press on Your Side got involved.

Flight canceled

Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to the Connellys’ home before their Oct. 31 American Airlines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City was to take them to Malaga, Spain, where they would depart for their cruise.

They were told by Choice Air, Royal Carribean’s air travel program, that their flight was canceled. And Choice Air was not able to get them on another flight to catch their cruise, which was departing on Nov. 3.

They went to a friend’s house in Toms River, which had power, and searched for other arrangements while canceling excursions in Spain.

“We checked everywhere,” Connelly said. “We checked flying out of Philadelphia, flying out of Washington. There was nothing we could be accommodated with.”

So they missed their cruise. Later, Choice Air issued refunds totaling $866, the amount of the one-way flight to Spain.

The Connellys had purchased trip cancellation insurance, valued at $1,500 per person. So they submitted a claim seeking $2,018 for the cost of the cruise, $396.60 for the price of the return flight and $18.05 for a car service in Spain. The total claim: $2,432.65

Claim denied

But Allianz denied it. “The delay you encountered did not meet the minimum number of hours outlined in your insuring agreement,” a representative of the travel claims department wrote in a Feb. 26 letter. “For that reason, we regret we will be unable to honor your claim.”

Allianz did pay what it called a “trip delay benefit” because there “wasn’t a twenty-four hour cessation of services by the airline or cruise line,” the letter stated. They received $400.

But it wasn’t enough for the Connellys. There was no other way to get to Spain in time to meet the cruise, she said. They wanted the full value of their claim. Their travel companions, who also missed out on the cruise, had received money from a Trip Mate, another insurance carrier, for the cancellation, Connelly said.

Margaret Connelly contacted Press on Your Side for help. “We didn’t have a delay,” Connelly said. “We had a total not-able-to-go.”

Press on Your Side contacted Allianz. Spokesman Daniel Durazo said he would ask the claims department to look into it.

Bad information

Here’s what happened: Allianz representatives believed the Connellys’ flight departed “pretty much as scheduled,” Durazo said. (The Connellys received a refund for the canceled flight.) The claim documents didn’t include any documentation of the airline or tour operator canceling the trip.

The company looked into it further.

A claims manager later spoke with Connelly and determined that cancellation benefits would be available to her because her home was affected by Sandy, Durazo said. The couple did not get electricity back to their Jackson home until Nov. 10 and didn’t have any phone service until Nov. 16.

“We apologize for any inconvenience Ms. Connelly may have experienced, but we’re pleased that we were able to provide coverage in this circumstance and we wish her the best in her future travels,” Durazo said in an email.

Thanks to Allianz for straightening out the case.

Connelly said she received $2,032.64, the amount of her claim minus the $400 previously sent by Allianz. She was thankful for the help.

The money will pay themselves back, she said. “Every single penny we are getting back we had paid out,” Connelly said.

It gives them the ability to do something else with the money. “We could use a refrigerator,” Connelly said.

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