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Will a Travel Date Change Void My Policy?

We changed our travel dates. Due to the delay in processing the change, the payment was not received within 14 days of booking and paying for the award flights. My concern is that the date change put us one day over the 30 day trip duration, so an additional $18 was required. My concern is that the delay in paying the $18 due to the date change may invalidate the pre-existing condition waiver, etc. Is my concern justified?

No, your concern is not justified. Date changes, including ones that result in a higher policy cost do not affect the pre-existing conditions coverage. In addition, award travel has a $0 insurable trip cost, so you didn’t add any additional non-refundable prepaid trip costs.

The only items that will affect the waiver of the pre-existing medical condition exclusion are:

  • Buying the policy within the deadline (within the first 14, 15 or 21 days after you pay your earliest trip payment for most plans or no later than 24 Hours after you make your final Trip payment for a few plans) and
  • You you must be “medically able to travel” when you buy your policy and
  • You insure at least your trip’s full prepaid non-refundable trip cost (there are a few plans that don’t require this)

Another way to look at why a date change doesn’t void the waiver of the pre-existing medical condition exclusion is that it’s somewhat common that an airline changes departure and / or arrival dates. When you have a pre-departure date change, you need to adjust the dates on your trip insurance policy so that you are fully covered. These last-minute date changes do not affect the waiver of the pre-existing medical condition exclusion.

You may learn more about Pre-existing Medical Condition exclusions here: https://tripinsurancestore.com/how-travel-insurance-pre-existing-medical-conditions-coverage-works/

I hope this made sense. If you have any questions about travel insurance, email Steve (me), The Travel Insurance Guru, here.

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May I Increase My Trip Cost Later?

When I booked my trip, and bought Travel Insurance from you, my departure date was too far away to buy airfare. It’s possible that I will use frequent flyer miles for my airfare. If I end up paying for my airfare, may I add the price of it to my policy? What about other prepaid trip costs?

My standard answer is “Yes, you may do that. Insurance companies, like the government, are always happy to take your money!” This always gets a big laugh.

Booking a trip way in advance and getting your airfare later, whether it’s with frequent flyer miles or paying for the tickets, is very common. You likely have a good idea of what your final prepaid non-refundable trip costs will be. You would insure all your known prepaid trip costs when you buy the travel insurance. However, you don’t know what the airline tickets will cost or if you are getting them for free.

When this is the case, it’s best to wait until you arrange the airfare and adjust your policy’s insured trip cost at that time, or not more than 14 days after buying the airfare. If you use frequent flyer miles to buy the tickets, you will want to increase your policy’s insured trip cost by the amount of the re-deposit fee.

You just pay the incremental price increase when you go into another price bracket. The prices are locked in at the rates and your age(s) that were in effect when you bought your policy.

Here’s more information on using frequent flyer miles: https://tripinsurancestore.com/frequent-flyer-and-free-travel-award-coverage/

What happens if I insure all my prepaid and non-refundable trip costs by the deadline to have the pre-existing conditions coverage, but later, yet still before my trip, I arrange an activity on my trip which requires a non-refundable prepayment? It wouldn’t have been part of my original travel plans, yet is prepaid and non-refundable and it pushes my prepaid trip cost above my insured limit.

This works the same as if you were buying airfare. You may easily add the cost of this new travel arrangement that wasn’t a part of your original travel plans. In this case, call us at 1-888-407-3854 not more than 14 days after you prepay it and we will increase your insured trip cost.

I hope this made sense.

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Why Can’t I Get This Letter?

When I bought your Rental Car Insurance policy I specifically asked regarding the Rental Car Damage Coverage if Ireland was covered. I was told that “yes it is”, and also in the plan documentation, I see there is NOT any exclusion for Ireland. I have my Plan Document and Confirmation of Benefits.

But for the rental car company I would like a LETTER that states the dates of my policy and that Rental Car Damage Coverage is included for Ireland. In other words that Ireland is not excluded.

I just called the insurance company and they said they would not send me such a letter, even though they confirmed that yes Ireland is not excluded, (no countries are excluded anywhere in the plan documentation).

Could you PLEASE help to secure such a letter for me?

The short answer is “No, I can’t get the letter”.

The reason is that a letter is not necessary. Your Rental Car Insurance policy specifically does not exclude Ireland. In addition, the rental car company does not require a letter.

I know that there are people who distrust insurance companies, sometimes because of their past experience and other times because of vague policy wording. However, this is not one of those times because there is nothing vague or misleading. It’s clear Ireland is not excluded.

If you have any questions about travel, rental car, international medical or flight accident insurance, send them to us. No matter how odd, complicated or trivial your requests may be, write us and we will help you. Even if you didn’t buy your insurance from us, but you feel that whoever you bought it from isn’t being clear about how your policy works.

Something else, as you may have read on my websites, in our emails and / or letters to you, we will help you if you have a claim. You need to let us know you have a claim because due to privacy laws, companies cannot voluntarily tell us who is filing a claim.

You may reach us at https://tripinsurancestore.com/travel-insurance-email-contact-form/ .

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Am I Covered if the Travel Supplier Changes the Itinerary?

I’m back after a few major high stress life changes. My son graduated from High School and moved away to college. We also sold our house, downsized (which was harder than I thought it would be) and moved to a small town 10 miles away.

We are taking a cruise in the Baltics which includes Russia. Does any policy allow us to cancel our trip before we leave if the cruise line changes the itinerary to not include St Petersburg?

No, travel insurance doesn’t cover pre-departure itinerary changes as a normally covered reason. Travel arrangements cancelled by a tour operator, airline or cruise line, are also known as “Failure of the tour operator, common carrier, person or agency to provide the bargained-for travel arrangements”. This means that if the travel supplier changes the itinerary, but still gives you a similar trip, there’s not a valid claim with a Travel Insurance plan (all plans have this exclusion).

There are a lot of other things that travel insurance doesn’t cover: see the common exclusions).

There’s one exception to the exclusions: You can get policies that let you cancel your trip for any reason. Not surprisingly, they are called Trip Cancellation for Any Reason Plans. Click on this link to get more information.

I don’t want you to think nothing is covered. Visit this page to see what trip cancellation travel insurance covers.

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Do This Right Now To Protect Yourself

If you haven’t heard, credit monitoring company Equifax was hacked a few months ago. Equifax discovered the hack July 29, but waited until Sept 7, 2017 to warn consumers. I don’t think that was ethical to wait so long, but I’m sure they had their reasons.

The hackers gained access to company data that potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers, including Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers.

This data is enough for crooks to hijack the identities of people whose credentials were stolen through no fault of their own, potentially wreaking havoc on their lives.

“This is about as bad as it gets,” said Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit research group. “If you have a credit report, chances are you may be in this breach. The chances are much better than 50 percent.”

What can you do? You can freeze your credit records which allows nobody to see them without your explicit permission. Google “Experian Security Freeze”, “Innovis Security Freeze”, “TransUnion Security Freeze” and “Equifax Security Freeze” and follow the directions.

Here are the links for your convenience:
Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/
TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze2
Innovis: https://www.innovis.com/securityFreeze/index

Depending on the State you live in, you may have to pay a fee. I paid a total of $20 to freeze both my wife’s and my credit records.

Next, if you don’t have a current copy of your credit report, I suggest you get a copy of your credit report. It’s free to you. Go here for more information: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports

Once you get that, find all the credit card, line of credit or other credit instruments you have but no longer use. Close all of the ones you stopped using.

I hope everyone reading this takes my advice.

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Does Booking a Cruise with a Non-Refundable Deposit Make a Difference?

We are getting ready to book another cruise. Royal Caribbean now offers lower rates when booking a cruise with non-refundable deposit. Does trip insurance reimburse non-refundable deposits in the event we have to cancel? Non-refundable deposits also incur a fee if date of cruise is changed. Is that covered? Janet

Hi Janet,

Those fees and penalties are only covered and reimbursable to you when filing a claim if you cancel your trip for a covered reason. They are not reimbursable to you if you voluntarily chose to cancel which is a not-covered reason. And, in case you are wondering, getting a plan with Cancel For Any Reason coverage would not be worth doing.

This new rule regarding non-refundable deposits and other change fees that some cruise lines now have is causing one big and unexpected problem for anyone who books a cruise but is not 100% certain that they will take that sailing. A common practice is that a cruise is booked where someone wants the flexibility to switch to another sailing before their final payment is due.

The problem in relation to having a travel insurance plan comes when someone buys a travel insurance plan with the potential idea of changing the policy dates to apply to a new trip should they decide not to take the original trip.

The unexpected problem is that when the companies will not allow you to change your dates if you incur a financial loss.

The solution is not as simple as cancelling the plan you bought, because if you are past the free look period (which is 10 – 14 days, depending on the plan, after you buy a policy and can cancel the policy for a full refund), you cannot get a refund on the travel insurance policy because you choose not to take your trip.

I cover this in more detail on my FAQs page at https://tripinsurancestore.com/travel-insurance-frequently-asked-questions/#z

If there’s any chance that you will voluntarily choose not take the cruise, I see no benefit in the booking at the lower rate because you will forfeit the cost of the travel insurance policy due to being unable to switch its dates to a new trip.

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I Enjoy Answering Email Requests Like These

Here are three requests I recently received. I appreciate it when someone calls or emails us with any request no matter how strange it might sound. These three people wanted the correct answers and I’m happy to tell them.

I recently got a new job function and just found out I may not be able to get my time off approved for my planned trip. I booked my flight 5 weeks ago. Are there any policies that allow me to get refund on my plane tickets if I have to cancel?

I told this person: “No, none of our plans will cover you.”

The reason I can say with 100% certainty that it’s not covered is due to this specific requirement in policies that include Cancellation due to Work Reasons coverage: “Revocation of previously approved time off”.

Looking carefully at the request, you’ll see “I may not be able to get my time off approved for my planned trip.” This means that the person does not already have time off approved.

Should they find someone who says “Yes” and buys the policy in good faith, their claim will be denied and you can imagine their feelings when that happens. Hopefully, they will say “Next time I need travel insurance I will go to TripInsuranceStore.com because they gave me the right advice.

I booked a trip in May with my ex-wife, but didn’t need any trip insurance at the time. To be completely honest, I don’t want to travel with her right now, but I don’t want to tell her either. Now I need trip insurance, so what’s the best Cancel For Any Reason plan I can get today? Then I can tell her something came up and we have to cancel.

I told this guy: “I’m sorry, but there are not any plans you may get at this late date that will cover you. I suggest you read your ticket’s Contract of Carriage to find out what the change fee will be to reuse your tickets. And, man up to tell your ex-wife the truth about not wanting to travel with her.”

Two days ago we bought trip insurance thru your website and need to let you know for this trip we are going to Israel, Jordan and Egypt. I want to know how my policy covers us if the US says it’s not safe to travel to one of these countries.

There is no coverage with any travel insurance plan if the US Government says it’s not safe to travel to a country. In fact, the USA has had a travel warnings on Israel and Egypt for years.

You could cancel your policy and buy a plan that includes the 75% Cancel For Any Reason coverage should you want to cancel at least 2 days before your trip if you don’t feel safe. You still have time to do this.

I enjoy answering email requests like these. Whenever I receive and respond to emails like these, I feel that I am doing my part to cut down on bad insurance advice. I do secret shopper research on my competitors and I’m shocked by the mis-information and bad advice I regularly receive. My pet peeve is the answers that include “that ‘should be’ / ‘might be’ / ‘ought to be’ covered.” Maybe it’s my need due to having Asperger’s Syndrome to have a definite “yes” or “no”. But whatever it is, I hate getting those kinds of answers.

Unfortunately, bad insurance advice happens far more times than anyone seems to admit. I have no problem saying this out loud. You can even find this same sentiment on my Claims page where I say: “I (Steve) firmly believe that the majority of denied claims are because the insured travelers either received the wrong advice prior to purchase or that they were sold the wrong policy by an uninformed travel insurance seller.”

I know my competitors read and even subscribe to my Blog (did you enjoy the Cajun Cookbook I sent you?). Before you scour your phone records looking for me, I don’t call you from my own phone.

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Does Flying Standby Cover Travel Delay?

Since I am flying standby because of employment with a major airline, I need to know if you have an insurance that would cover my cruise in case we keep getting bumped from our flights? I am not worried about insuring the air portion of the trip since it is little cost, but if I’m delayed I don’t want to lose the money I paid for the cruise. I am leaving so I can arrive at port 3 days early to try to cover this problem.

I’ve called some of the other online travel insurance websites and they said I’m covered. But I stumbled across TripInsuranceStore.com and you seem down-to-earth which is why I’m emailing you.

Thanks for writing. And for your kind words.

I’m sorry you were misled because the truth is “No, travel insurance doesn’t cover delays on space available or standby tickets”.

The reason that you won’t be covered is that technically you do not have fixed travel dates. Having fixed travel dates is one of the important components of a covered trip. Other important components are: traveling at least 100 – 150 miles from home (the plans’ rules vary), physically residing in the country you claim to reside for at least 6 months prior to buying a policy and being medically able to travel when you buy the policy.

Another type of travel that is not covered for trip delays is “Space A travel”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-A_travel:
Space-A travel is a means by which members of United States Uniformed Services (United States Military, reservists and retirees, United States Department of Defense civilian personnel (under certain circumstances), and these groups’ family members, are permitted to travel on aircraft under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Defense when excess capability allows.

I’m glad this man asked me. I know he had checked around, so hopefully whoever gave him the wrong advice put it in writing should he need it.

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May I Buy Travel Insurance After Final Payment?

I am booked on a Princess Cruise and am departing home on May 8, 2017. I booked on March 15, 2017 and paid in full. May I still buy insurance even though my trip is paid in full and I am past the Final Payment?

Yes, you may get any of our Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Travel Insurance plans before or after you pay in full. The latest date you may buy a policy is the day before you leave. No matter which day you buy it, the Trip Cancellation benefit starts at 12:01 am on the day after you buy it. All the other coverages start after you depart on your trip.

If you are waiting until the days or weeks before your trip to get your policy, then the fact that the Trip Cancellation benefit starts at 12:01 am on the day after you buy it might be important to you.

Here’s why: The official Final Payment Date and / or the date the penalties begin don’t prevent you from being able to get one of our plans.

If you do want the Trip Cancellation and Interruption coverage then you should buy it as soon as you can because you are already in penalty. You are not obligated to insure your full prepaid and non-refundable trip costs so you might want to consider rounding your trip cost down to the top of the next lowest range to save some money.

For example, yesterday, I suggested someone round their trip cost down from $4,115 to $4,000 per person. This saved them $92. Had they not rounded it down, they would have been paying $92 to insure $230 – not a good tradeoff.

On the other hand, if you do not want the Trip Cancellation and Interruption coverage then you may buy it any time until the day befor you leave. You are not obligated to insure your full prepaid and non-refundable trip costs. You are still covered for all the other benefits.

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Are Pre-Departure Date Changes a Covered Cost?

We get a lot of requests for pre-departure date changes. Here are three recent emails:

I’m planning a trip to Australia and back from the USA. There’s a possibility that I will need to change the date of my return plane ticket to later than planned if my visa gets extended so I want a Travel Insurance plan that will pay the costs associated with changing my ticket.

I need a Trip Insurance plan that covers fees or costs my airline will charge me if I have to change my travel dates before I leave on my trip.

I don’t want a Trip Cancellation Insurance plan, but instead I want policy that will pay any trip the costs I will incur if I decide to delay leaving on my trip for a few days.

On the surface these sound like reasonable requests. Sometimes circumstances of your trip could change causing you to have a financial loss if you have to change the travel dates prior to leaving. I’m not talking about having to cancel your trip. These requests are specifically for changing the travel dates but still taking the trip.

However, Trip Insurance doesn’t cover costs associated with changes in dates prior to leaving on your trip. Technically, this is known as a “pre-departure date change”.

If you have a pre-departure date change that causes you to pay a penalty or fee, this is not a covered claim. You are responsible to pay the penalty or fee. This includes mistakes you make by selecting the wrong travel dates.

There are two main reasons these are not covered:

  • There’s no way for an insurance company to assign a probabilty of this happening, so it’s not possible to offer insurance for this potential risk.
  • Airlines already allow a customer to make changes for a fee. Check your plane ticket’s Contract of Carriage for the rules in order to find the fees and rules.

In order to avoid expensive changes, always double-check the travel dates, names of the travelers and other details when booking airline tickets or other travel arrangements online.

I cover something similar to this on my FAQs page:

Q. May I change my travel dates if my trip changes?

A. Yes, you can change your travel dates if your trip changes. If you are past the Free Look period, you cannot get a refund on the travel insurance policy because you choose not to take your original trip.

In addition, some companies will not allow you to change your dates if you incur a financial loss. This can be tricky because some travel agents charge fees, airlines will and also some cruise lines do, too.

Here are your options:

  • If you want to lower your insured trip cost, because your trip cost was lower than you expected, you have to contact the insurance company directly yourself. Your travel insurance plan is a legal contract and, as such, the insurance company needs to receive the changes from you. In addition, your credit card will be credited the refunded amount and we don’t save your credit card information.
  • If you want to change your travel insurance policy’s travel dates you also have to contact the insurance company directly yourself. The reason is the same: your travel insurance plan is a legal contract and, as such, the insurance company needs to receive the changes from you.

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When I said “you have to contact the insurance company directly yourself”, that is not completely true. If you bought your Travel Insurance from us, we will help you do the date or other changes you need.

The reason I said what I did is because we’ve had people who bought insurance from someone else come to us and want us to help them make changes to their policy. In every case, the person / place who sold them their policy dropped the ball on post-sales service.

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More on Why Kara’s Claim Wasn’t Paid

I have two new rules before I publish a Blog post:

  1. Don’t stay up all night the night before
  2. Have someone without Austism review it first (I have Asperger’s)

My good friend Amrit reviewed this one. If you need a good writer, don’t hire me. Hire Amrit. He provides professional content writing services.

In my previous Nov 30, 2016 post Why Kara’s Claim Wasn’t Paid I failed to say exactly why Kara’s claim was not paid.

About:
Kara bought a trip cancellation policy with “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage from our website. Due to some unavoidable reasons (a military coup in Turkey!) she was forced to make some changes to her trip, which is fairly understandable. The problem is, she made those changes without consulting us. The changes she made weren’t covered in the policy and had she contacted us before making the changes, we would have told her, and would have even advised her how to make the changes so that she would be properly covered.

Consequently, she didn’t get her claim and now she thinks we are responsible for the unfortunate predicament. She has shared her experience, although a bit misplaced when it comes to mentioning my business, on Yelp. Here is my response.

The reason her claim wasn’t payable is that she had a “Cancel For Any Reason” policy.

“Cancel For Any Reason” is just that – cancelling your entire trip for a reason that is normally not covered (e.g., changing your mind). It’s not “Delay For Any Reason”, nor is it “Change Your Travel Arrangements For Any Reason”.

As I said, Never start a sentence about how travel insurance works with “One would think …”. You will be wrong and potentially unhappy. In this case specifically, the error that led to the claim denial was making the words “Cancel” and “Change” synonyms even though they are not. Cancel and Change mean different things.

It is precisely the difference between Cancel and Change that is why the insurance company said “you can file for 75% reimbursement for the cost of the original tickets that you cancelled under the any reason option but the costs associated with changing or booking new tickets wouldn’t be covered because the insurance doesn’t cover the costs associated with the traveler deciding to change their trip around.”

This is exactly why I say “Contact us before you start changing your travel arrangements. If you do something that is not covered and then tell us after the fact, I doubt there’s much we can do to help you get your claim paid.”

Had she contacted us, we clearly would have said “You have to cancel all your travel arrangements at least 48 hours before you are scheduled to leave. Your policy will not cover changes”.

I hope this made sense. If not, let me know. And, be sure call us when you think you might have a claim.

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Why Kara’s Claim Wasn’t Paid

About:
Kara bought a trip cancellation policy with “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage from our website. Due to some unavoidable reasons (a military coup in Turkey!) she was forced to make some changes to her trip, which is fairly understandable. The problem is, she made those changes without consulting us. The changes she made weren’t covered in the policy and had she contacted us before making the changes, we would have told her, and would have even advised her how to make the changes so that she would be properly covered.

Consequently, she didn’t get her claim and now she thinks we are responsible for the unfortunate predicament. She has shared her experience, although a bit misplaced when it comes to mentioning my business, on Yelp. Here is my response.

A business benefits when happy customers refer their friends. When the business is online, reviews from real people go a long way, too. I am very thankful for all the nice things people say about us on Cruise Critic, Trip Advisor, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, Dis Boards, Flyer Talk, newspaper travel sections and all the other places online.

Not everything said about TripInsuranceStore.com is good. Some are neutral like: “Is there even some named ‘Steve’? I’ve called and have never talked to him…”.

Now and then I find negative reviews from people who should have never bought a trip cancellation travel insurance policy in the first place. At the very least they should have called or emailed us for advice because it would have given us the opportunity to tell them: “Don’t buy a travel insurance policy because it will not cover you.”

Here’s one of those negative reviews that I think is worth reading as it’s a perfect example of why it’s important to be aware of these things (and why someone should call us when they think they might have a claim):

  1. TripInsuranceStore is not the insurance company (I am a broker) so if you decide to contact the insurance company directly without ever contacting us for advice before you start your claim, don’t drag my name through the mud complaining about your experience.
  2. Read your policy. Don’t assume anything about how you are covered. Even though the terms may be the same, every policy is different from the other ones out there. Please call us at 1-888-407-3854 with questions. We will patiently help you.
  3. Contact us before you start changing your travel arrangements. If you do something that is not covered and then tell us after the fact, I doubt there’s much we can do to help you get your claim paid.
  4. Never start a sentence about how travel insurance works with “One would think …”. You will be wrong and potentially unhappy.
  5. If you have a claim, we will help you with your claim even before you start it because it’s important to us that your claim gets paid. Just like we are not the insurance company, we are also not the claim department.
  6. Insurance policy language is precise because it is a unilateral legal contract. Don’t equate “cancelling” with “making a change”.

Here’s the Yelp review:

I purchased “Cancel for any reason” insurance through TripInsuranceStore.com – they are incredibly helpful, until you actually need to file a claim. We were going on safari in Kenya and had purchased our tickets on Turkish Airlines from SFO to IST and then connecting to NBO on July 19th. As I’m sure everyone is aware, there was an attempted coup in Istanbul on July 15th and the FAA banned all Turkish Airline flights from the US for an unspecified period of time. One would think a military coup would be a covered item, but one would be wrong. Well, if the coup isn’t covered, at least I should be covered since the FAA has banned all flights? Again, wrong. I was able to re-route us on United via FRA and ADD, but had to pay around $1,000 in change fees for 7 people. I’m looking for 75% of $1,000 in reimbursement which I believe I more than qualify for. Given the civil unrest in Turkey, plus the uncertainty of whether the FAA would lift it’s ban in time and there would even be a Turkish Airline plane available to take us to Istanbul on July 19th, I’m curious what the average traveler is expected to do in our situation. Here is verbatim their reasoning for denying our claim, “you can file for 75% reimbursement for the cost of the original tickets that you cancelled under the any reason option but the costs associated with changing or booking new tickets wouldn’t be covered because the insurance doesn’t cover the costs associated with the traveler deciding to change their trip around.” Ha! They think we wanted to spend 48+ hours traveling through 3 countries in order to get to our ultimate destination. As if on a whim two days before our trip of a lifetime I said, “You know what, I hear Frankfurt is lovely this time of year…”

If you want to see Kara’s Yelp review, you can find it here on my Yelp page: https://www.yelp.com/biz/tripinsurancestore-lees-summit-2

If you want to say anything about us online, you will find more information on how to do this on my Feedback page: https://tripinsurancestore.com/how-did-tripinsurancestore-com-do/

PS – After writing this I realized I didn’t explain it well so I wrote this on Dec. 2, 2016: More on Why Kara’s Claim Wasn’t Paid

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Honor The Price I Got From My Mistake

I took a call that started with:

I did a quote on TripInsuranceStore.com and got a price. When I clicked the purchase link to order it the price was nearly double! I want you to honor the first price I got.

At first I thought I was lucky enough to take this call. After all, if my quotes are wrong I’d want to know so I could fix it. I asked the lady if she still has the quotes open and she did. I then asked her to email them to me so I could figure out what was wrong and she did.

While I was waiting for the email I asked for her basic trip details again (ages, travel dates, per person trip cost). As soon as I get the quotes she emailed me I saw the problem: The quotes had their ages as 69 and 17, while their real ages were 69 and 67.

When I pointed out the age error, she said “I entered the ages correctly, so your system must have changed the age 67 to age 17 in order to fool me. This is bait and switch. I demand you honor the price I received.”

I talked with her some more. I had her re-do a quote with ages 69 & 67 and she got the same price as the order form gave her, but she insisted that I took control of her computer remotely and was manipulating the results she was seeing (she refused to believe me when I said I wasn’t doing this).

Then, her husband got on the phone: “My name is _______ . I’m a well-known attorney here in Boston. You can look me up online. I demand you honor the price on the first quotes we received. It’s not our fault your system must have changed the age 67 to age 17. If you don’t honor that price we will go to every online forum we can find and expose you.”

I patiently explained that they might reconsider that idea since he told me his name, I have their email address and phone number plus we have the phone call. However, if they chose to do that, I said make sure you spell my last name correctly. It’s d-a-s-s-e-o-s. That’s when they hung up on me.

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Tip For Selling Expensive Items Online

I have various blog posts that are still drafts due to them covering complicated subjects. As I was writing the past few days, I decided to publish this one in the meantime. Also, I have a disclaimer at the end for anyone who needs one.

This one is not on the ever-interesting, fascinating and riveting subject of Travel Insurance. Instead, it’s a Tip For Selling Expensive Items online.

I am selling an Ethan Allen American Impressions Cherry Computer Desk for $500 on Craig’s List.

Within 30 minutes of listing it I received three text messages from area codes in California, Florida and New York. I live in Missouri. Each of the messages was worded nearly the same as the others, with the feeling of it being a scam, so I decided to have some “fun” with them. By the way, if you like my sense of humor, let me know if you ever come to Kansas City and we can hang out.

I copied one of the text exchanges. The other two were similar, but they wouldn’t play along and were shorter.

Their text to me: “Ethan Allen American Impressions Cherry Computer Desk 24-9011 – $500 Ok! I will pay you via Paypal and i will have a mover come pick it up but i can’t get cash across to the mover directly because i’m out of the city for work and they don’t use paypal. So, i will add extra money to the payment for the mover so that you can pay on my behalf. Send me your paypal info for payment if you have one so we can proceed.”

Me: “Oh I’m so sorry but we only take cash. When will you return to the city?”

Text: “Next month”

Me: “Send me your contact info and I will arrange for the sale. What date will you return?

Text: sorry paypal is the only way i can make the payment to you because it is linked to my bank account and i find it very easy to transfer funds there. so let me know if you are still gonna sell to me. paypal only take a minute to set up. log on to Paypal.com to setup

Me: “If you want to use Paypal, there is a 21 day wait for me to release the item so I can receive the money.”

Text: “PayPal is instant….The funds will get into your account Immediately you send them the details you get from western union.? thats the only way i do my transaction when am not in the state”

Me: “What state do you need to be in?”

Text: “Okay appreciate the furniture and just to let you know I’m okay with the condition, the price and I’m ready for the purchase plus I’m willing to add an extra $50 so as to have it reserved in my favor, I would have really loved to come for the inspection but due to my work frame it just won’t fit in my schedule but i already have a mover that will handle the moving”

Me: “Here’s the problem for me: It’s a friend’s account. I’m in the Witness Protection Program and it’s illegal for me to use PayPal due to my money laundering past. I have friends all over the USA so send me your contact information and they will get the money in person from you and your associate can pick it up after that. Don’t worry, you can trust my friends.”

I never heard anything after that last text. I guess they didn’t want to meet my “friends”.

*** Disclaimer for anyone who needs one: I am not now, nor ever have been in the Witness Protection Program. And, I do not have a money laundering past.

It turns out that Paypal is aware of this scam, too:
https://www.paypal.com/us/selfhelp/article/Scams-on-Craigslist-and-Other-Classifieds-Websites-FAQ3022

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Don’t Be This Person

I hope you all had a nice summer. I did, but it was busier than expected. I also have a few posts in draft form that I can’t quite figure out how to finish. This was one, but I think I finally got all my cynicism regarding this one worked out.

Before you read what happened, you need to know that neither this lady nor her husband ever called or emailed us before she bought her policy. In addition, she never responded to our followup emails after purchase so the by the time she did email us it was way too late to give her any meaningful advice or help. This all happened on July 14-15, 2016.

Hi, I have a few questions about my trip insurance for a vacation planned in August. I originally bought the travel insurance in December and found out I was pregnant in March. Unfortunately, we lost the pregnancy. My husband and I decided we weren’t going on the trip to Punta Cana, as it is a high risk of exposure to the Zika virus. At the strong recommendation of our OB and our concern, as we are actively trying to conceive, a trip to the Dominican Republic is not a good idea. Therefore, we would like to cancel our trip, but are not quite sure how to go about it. Who do I need to talk to? Do I cancel the reservations through the insurance or with the resort and airline? I know I will have to fill out some paperwork. I have been to the OB, and I have a letter that has been written on our behalf, spelling out the reasons above, in the hopes that we can get our money back.

Here’s what we wrote back:
“We are sorry to hear about your pregnancy. The policy that you got does not cover for pregnancy and will only cover for cancellation for a medical reason that impairs your ability to travel. Or, if you do not incur a penalty to change your trip, we can transfer your insurance to another trip.”

She answered with:
“I am surprised and disappointed by this. I guess I didn’t read the “fine” print well enough. I’m not sure where I missed the “this plan does not cover pregnancy,” as this is the only reason why I purchased it. Apparently the safety of an unborn child is not a good enough “reason” to cancel a trip. It may not impede my ability to travel, just the ability of having a healthy child. Your feigned attempt at an apology for the loss of my pregnancy was just barely a step up from the insensitivity of the remainder of your email. As for transferring the insurance, you can keep the $100. It does me no good. Love those loopholes and lawyer-speak. I will not be using your company in the future.”

This is when I decided to get involved. I sent her the following email July 15th at 1:39 AM (in hindsight I should have just gone to bed). And, this was before I discovered neither she nor her husband ever called or emailed us before she bought her policy:

“Hi ___,

Thanks for writing. As it is late, and I have not talked with my employees about you, I do not know anything about your conversation history with us.

I know you will never do business with us or that company again, so I want you to know I am not writing you to “get your business back”. I agree with your decision.

I am writing to straighten out what appears to be some misunderstandings about how travel insurance works.

First, I’m sorry to hear of the the loss of your pregnancy. All my employees are Moms and my Wife and I could not have kids (we adopted our kids) so we can sympathize with your loss.

> I guess I didn’t read the “fine” print well enough. I’m not sure where I missed the “this plan does not cover pregnancy,” as this is the only reason why I purchased it

Here is what your policy says (I attached it to this email too)

“Complications of Pregnancy” means conditions (when the pregnancy is not terminated) whose diagnoses are distinct from pregnancy but are adversely affected by pregnancy or are caused by pregnancy. These conditions include acute nephritis, nephrosis, cardiac decompensation, missed abortion and similar medical and surgical conditions of comparable severity. Complications of Pregnancy also include non-elective cesarean section, ectopic pregnancy which is terminated and spontaneous termination of pregnancy, which occurs during a period of gestation in which a viable birth is not possible. Complications of Pregnancy does not include false labor, occasional spotting, Physician-prescribed rest during the period of pregnancy, morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, preeclampsia and similar conditions associated with the management of a difficult pregnancy not constituting a nosologically distinct complication of pregnancy.

Under Exclusions, #11 says:
normal childbirth or pregnancy (except Complications of Pregnancy)

> Apparently the safety of an unborn child is not a good enough “reason” to cancel a trip. It may not impede my ability to travel, just the ability of having a healthy child.
> My husband and I decided we weren’t going to on the trip to Punta Cana, as it is a high risk of exposure to the Zika virus.

The policy you bought is the TravelSafe Classic plan. There are 25 covered reasons to cancel your trip. None of them are for anything related to not feeling safe or changing your mind. This is the same with all other companies.

Had you wanted the ability to change your mind and cancel your trip, the TravelSafe Classic Plus includes 75% Cancel For Any Reason Coverage when purchased within 21 days of your Initial Trip Deposit Date.

You ordered your policy directly online on 12/27/2015. I can see limited info on your policy and no date was entered for your Initial Trip Deposit Date, do I don’t know if you were even eligible for the Cancel For Any Reason Coverage on 12/27/2015.

I do not know if you ever called us prior to you buying your policy, but if you had told us you wanted to cancel because you might not feel safe we would have made it clear you needed the Cancel For Any Reason Coverage.

> As for transferring the insurance, you can keep the $100

I don’t get the $100 – the company gets the $100. If you are incurring no penalties to change your trip to some other trip, it allows you a one-time change of travel dates. However, if I had received the $100, I’d give it back to you.

> Love those loopholes and lawyer-speak. I will not be using your company in the future.

I’m not looking for or expecting any response from you. I only sent this email to explain how your policy works.”

She wrote this back to me:
“So, that’s a lie. I wouldn’t be receiving this email if you “didn’t know anything about my conversation history with you”…

That’s fine. Your conscience is clear. You are like all the other companies, I guess. Untrustworthy, sly. Honestly, I’m not too worried about what the other companies do or don’t do. I am concerned about what yours doesn’t do, at this point in time. And you sharing your story with me about your children being adopted is supposed to make me feel like you understand somehow? And the implication is…? Yes, it is obvious you don’t understand what I was trying to say. Thanks for explaining all the medical jargon because I don’t know what any of those things are!

I’m not looking for or expecting any response from you. I only want to explain how little your email worked.

Clever, I can quote you, too!”

Here’s what I sent her the next morning:
” > Yes, it is obvious you don’t understand what I was trying to say

You’re right that I don’t understand what you were trying to say. I have Asperger Syndrome and this is how I process information. I am 100% literal all the time. I cannot generalize. I cannot “read between the lines”.

I was gone until I checked my email on my laptop before going to bed. I wrote you to explain how all travel insurance works. I wasn’t obligated to do that because when you bought it online you checked the box that said you read the policy.

> Thanks for explaining all the medical jargon because I don’t know what any of those things are!

I did not explain any medical jargon. I quoted you from your policy. The policy contains all the explanations.

I am in my office now and there is no record of any phone call from what we have listed as your phone number to us ever. Nor are there any emails from your email prior to you writing us yesterday. Any time we would have been happy to explain how travel insurance works.”

Her response to me was:
“I’m not sure what the point is of sharing your personal information. It is irrelevant and certainly doesn’t excuse anyone from the manner in which my inquiries were being made. My argument is mostly with the way in which customer service was handled. The responses have been somewhat odd and quite insensitive. As far as the policy is concerned, I do not recall reading the part about pregnancy, especially in the original set of information made available to me. The 20 page policy required more of a microscope than I thought would be needed. Buyer beware.

Please stop emailing me. I am fearful of what other inconsequential or insensitive responses will result.”

Of course I didn’t email her again. She won’t ever hear from us again as I have marked her with my “666” designation.

I just wish she would have started her email with “I bought insurance and I didn’t bother to read the policy nor contact you with any questions. I don’t care what it says because I want the insurance to pay me even if I’m not covered.”

I guess I didn’t read the “fine” print well enough. As far as the policy is concerned, I do not recall reading the part about pregnancy, especially in the original set of information made available to me. The 20 page policy required more of a microscope than I thought would be needed. Buyer beware.

If you read this all the way to the end, my advice to you is Don’t Be This Person. But, if you are, Don’t Buy Insurance From TripInsuranceStore.com !

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The Best Travel Insurance for Your HSA Plan

The best Travel Insurance to have with your HSA (Health Savings Account) or any High-Deductible Health Plan is one with Secondary medical instead of Primary (Primary is also known as First Payer).

HSA (and High-Deductible Health) plans have a large annual deductibles which means that before the 100% coverage kicks in, the large annual deductible needs to be paid by someone:

  • You yourself, or
  • An other party

“You yourself” is self-explanatory. But, who is the ideal “other party”?

Travel Insurance with Secondary medical, not Primary, is the ideal “other party”.

This is because Secondary medical pays anything your other insurance won’t pay. Even if you have no other medical insurance that will cover you while you are on your trip, Secondary still covers you.

If you already have a Travel Insurance plan that contains primary medical, you can easily cause the Primary medical to be treated as Secondary medical. You do this by stating on the claim form that you are covered by other insurance. If you want to be sure there is no mixup, write a cover letter stating “I am covered by other medical insurance and I want my claim to be processed as a secondary claim”.

Here’s how the paperwork would be processed:

  1. You submit your medical bills to your HSA medical insurance first
  2. They send you an Explanation of Benefits form
  3. You send the Explanation of Benefits form in along with all the other documentation of your claim to the travel insurance company
  4. Whatever amount the Explanation of Benefits form states as “Your Share” gets paid, up to your policy limit, by the travel insurance.
  5. You use that amount to pay your share of your medical claim

How Exactly Does The Secondary Medical Benefit You?

Let’s say you have an HSA plan with a $10,000 deductible. In March you take a trip and on the trip you get it ill for a total of $6,500 in medical expenses.

When your claim is settled you pay the $6,500 received from the travel insurance toward your bills. This means you now have only $3,500 left to meet your $10,000 deductible. The cost of any illnesses or injuries that are completely unrelated to what happened on your trip go toward yor remaining deductible.

Did you notice that you don’t have your full deductible remaining, but just the balance of your annual deductible?

This is the beauty of having Travel Insurance with Secondary medical when you haven’t already satisfied your annual deductible – another party pays part or all your deductible.

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It’s Good Dolores Took My Advice

As you may recall when we spoke on Friday. I indicated that our children’s travel agent in South Africa was going to book our tickets. You told me that we would need to have proof of purchase that we ourselves bought the tickets for our May 3 – June 1, 2016 trip. My question is: If we buy the tickets through the South Africa travel agent with our credit card would that be adequate for the insurance purposes? Dolores

What Dolores emailed me above was the last in a series of calls and emails we had in February 2016 for her and her husband’s May 2016 trip. In case you want to skip to the answer without reading this, the answer is “Yes”.

Here’s the backstory: Delores and her husband wanted trip insurance to cover them for their trip to South Africa to visit their children. In order to make it simple, their children were going to buy the tickets in Delores and her husband’s name through their travel agent in South Africa. Delores and her husband were going to reimburse their children for the tickets after arriving in South Africa. Delores wanted to buy trip insurance for all the regular reasons to have it.

That sounds reasonable, right? It does, at first glance, until we reasoned out how a trip cancellation or trip interruption claim would work. Had Delores not called us, it’s possible she would have received the wrong advice. Situations like this look straightforward on the surface, but they are not.

The potential problem was how to prove that they had Prepaid, Non-refundable Trip Costs.

If something unexpectedly bad medically happened to either of them and their doctor saw them in person and said they can’t travel, then how would Delores and her husband prove that, they themselves, had prepaid and non-refundable trip costs? They would not have been able to prove this.

Perhaps I would have been able to convince one of my companies that they should not look at the “prepaid” requirement too literally, but why would I want a company that trusts me to bend / break its own rules? That will never happen. All my companies know that we will never sell a policy under false pretenses.

My solution for Delores was to buy the airline tickets through the South Africa travel agent with their own credit card. This establishes a clear paper trail for the money and the trip costs would have been prepaid.

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