Kaikoura, New Zealand photo by Andrew Ingersoll
Wednesday Morning Updates
My experience with CoverMore Travel Insurance
by Andrew Ingersoll
In December during my Antarctic adventure, I became a member of the “seven and under 30″ club: I’d visited all seven Continents before the age of 30.
But on second to last morning of that adventure, I ran into trouble. When I awoke that morning, I managed to tear a muscle in my neck. At breakfast it was a bit sore so I took a couple Tylenol®. By midmorning it was aching even more. After lunch, the swelling was so great that the slightest movement sent a sharp stabbing pain down my arm. By the time we were approaching Cape Horn, I was laying on the ground of my stateroom unable to move. The doctor was called and I was doped up on Vicodin® as we rounded Cape Horn in gale force winds. That night, after icing and resting my neck, I decided to ring the travel insurance company.
My itinerary was to take me from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Buenos Aires and on to Santiago, Chile, for an overnight before boarding a flight to Easter Island in the South Pacific. The date was December 21st, and I no longer felt comfortable traveling to and staying on a remote Pacific Island with who-knew-what sort of injury I was suffering.
Katherine from CoverMore Travel Insurance took my call from the ship’s bridge. She explained to me that my insurance policy covered a change of itinerary with direction from a physician. I reiterated numerous times that I was entitled to purchase a last-minute ticket and submit the receipt with a doctor’s note to be reimbursed for the cost. Katherine agreed and offered to make the arrangements for me, but I foolishly turned her down, wanting to maintain control of my looming Christmas travel.
When I returned to Ushuaia port, my neck was still quite sore and very stiff. I was going to abort my award ticket itinerary and get back to Australia as soon as possible because Australia has a GREAT health care system: It’s FREE.
My original itinerary was a OneWorld award ticket put together in three pieces: SYD-MIA, USH-IPC (Easter Island via Buenos Aires and Santiago), IPC-SYD. I purchased a one-way ticket from MIA to USH for about $400.
I decided to fly the award portion from USH-AEP (Buenos Aires Jorge Newberry) and then purchase a Qantas nonstop flight from EZE (Buenos Aires Ezizia) to SYD. I cancelled the AEP-SCL-IPC-PPT-AKL-SYD portion of my OneWorld award, paid a $150 redeposit fee, then purchased a last-minute ticket on Qantas for $2500, fully expecting, as Katherine had said, a full refund.
Arriving back in Sydney on the 24th of December after an exhausting flight, I managed to get into a General Practitioner clinic to get a second letter to submit with my receipt. By this time, Aleve® and Tylenol® were keeping my pain under control. First business day, I submitted my documents to CoverMore. Fourteen days later, I was asked to submit the monetary value of the frequent flier miles that had been redeposited as per their policy. Here are the details in the policy:
Section 4: Amendment Or Cancellation Costs
If circumstances out of your control and unforeseen at the relevant time:
1. You have to rearrange your journey prior to leaving home…
2. You have to cancel the Journey…We will pay you:
(A) the non-refundable unused portion of all travel costs prepaid in advance including the travel agent’s commission…
(B) For frequent flier or similar flight reward points lost following cancellation of your airline ticket, the amount we will pay is calculated as follows:
(I) the cost of the equivalent class airline ticket, based on the best available purchase airfare at the time the claim is processed, less your financial contribution towards the airline ticket multiplied by
(II) the total amount of points lost divided by
(III) the total amount of points used to obtain the airline ticket
$2500 Qantas ticket x 0 points lost (all redeposited) = 0 / 60,000 = 0 = Nadda, nil, no money, nothing!
The insurance company wasn’t willing to cover my out-of-pocket expenses. I was directed to the fine print in my insurance coverage, which clearly stated that frequent flier mile tickets had special consideration when you’re making a claim. I had no choice but to concede to the insurance company. I made the error of booking my own Qantas ticket, arranging for redeposit, and then trying to get my money back.
I am a big fan of travel insurance, but a word of warning: READ THE FINE PRINT. Find out exactly what you are entitled to when you’re traveling on an award ticket. This is an example of just one of many travel insurance companies’ fine print.
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