Trip Insurance? - CycleBlaze

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Trip Insurance?

John Pescatore

Two years ago I had to eat a $500 deposit on a week-long commercial tour with my wife when medical issues meant I wouldn't be able to ride. I had declined the trip insurance option because it would have added close to $100 to the deposit, and because I had never paid for trip insurance before and never needed it - and was always skeptical about payoff, kinda like extended warranty offers.

My wife and I just spent some time housesitting friend's place outside Tucson AZ and were planning on driving up to Sedona and spending 1 night in a nice hotel. I could book a non-refundable room for about $175 (including all of AZ's very high fees) or a refundable room for about $230.

Or, I could book the non-refundable  rate and pay $11 for trip insurance. I was a bit worried about the storms hitting Southern California spilling over but for $11 I took the chance.

Sure enough, Winter Storm Warnings/Travel Advisories came up on our date and I really didn't want to drive the cheap rental car up for 3 hours to 4500 feet in snow even though the hotel  staff said "Oh, Yuma will be bad at  6500 feet but we'll be fine at our altitude." 

Went online, filled out insurance (Allianz) forms, uploaded copy of hotel bill and NOAA weather advisory/travel warning and got my money back quickly. 

So, for a 10% uplift I'd probably do it again, but 20% might still make me take a chance. YMMV...

Oh, we did get a lot of hiking in but our biking plans did get washed out by cold temps and rain in Tucson and even a bit of snow!

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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo John Pescatore

We took our first international bike tour in 2023. I paid $300. extra for flight insurance, my husband didn't. I asked other people  who fly frequently if they get flight insurance. They all said no. I didn't have to make a claim, and it seemed like money wasted.

In the meanwhile, I purchased an economy ticket on American from Tucson to Grand Junction. I decided to stay extra days in Tucson, and drive home. I presumed there was no refund available, but I got online to see if I could use the return half of the ticket if I didn't use the first half. The answer was no. However, if I paid a $99. fee, I could get a refund on the balance of my ticket, which was $58. I filled out the form. A few days later, I received notice that my refund was denied because I had used the ticket! I am quite sure that I drove home, with a motel and gas receipts to prove it. For $58., I decided it was not worth the frustration of fighting with them. 

Completely unrelated to cycling - I went to donate blood yesterday and was told I had already donated earlier that morning. Perhaps I have a doppelgänger?

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1 month ago
Brent IrvineTo John Pescatore

Insurance is exactly that... protection in case something happens, and is all about what you are comfortable losing in the event that something occurs. In the case of my house (house insurance) or my health (medical insurance), for me, these are no-brainers. I make sure I have these because the cost could be enormous. I adjust deductibles to my comfort level. In the case of travel cancelation insurance, for me, this one depends. Generally, I have fairly good protection with my credit cards (not only cancelation, emergency medical, device protection and a bunch of other coverages). When not covered by a card, I compare the cost of the insurance against the expenditure for the trip and make the call. If the rate is reasonable I go for it; otherwise, not.

Nobody wants to spend on these and nobody wants to use them but if I need them, I want to know they are there in my back pocket.

Enough babbling. Back to planning the 🇭🇷 tour.

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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo John Pescatore

Yeppers. We get a broad insurance policy focusing on lost luggage and overseas medical care/emergency evacuation. We don't insure the trip itself, the cost of the flights, that is. Since we rarely hotels ahead of time we don't insure those either, and we don't make deposits on accommodation either so no reason to insure for that, especially since our average guesthouse cost around $15. 

You can compare policies from different vendors at https://www.squaremouth.com/. We've used Allianz and Travelex in the past but can't attest to their payout response since we've never had to actually make a claim *knock wood*.

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1 month ago
Graham SmithTo John Pescatore

I’ve heard a few cautionary tales about the flight insurance offered online by certain airlines when self booking flights. If a claim is made, they refer the passenger to another company, even though it initially appears that the insurer is the airline itself because they take the payment for the policy. 

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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo John Pescatore

My personal view is that insurance, and by extension extended warranties, amounts to a bet between you and whoever is offering the additional-cost coverage.  If you decline those items you're betting that nothing untoward will occur- which is generally what happens, although of course it's far from a certainty.

If you pay for extra coverage, the offering entity is betting they'll get to keep your money and do nothing in return- which is of course the statistical likelihood.

It's all about risk management and your comfort level vis-a-vis risks and the consequences if a risk turns into actuality.

Trusting that my travel plans will go smoothly and as expected (in other words, playing the odds), I don't generally buy trip insurance.  On my most recent travel (not a bicycle trip) I did buy the insurance because in addition to the airfare there was the cost of a weeklong pre-paid non-refundable SCUBA trip at stake.  Everything went exactly according to schedule so the insurer won their bet, but I was happy to have had the peace of mind.

On another occasion partial reimbursement was included automatically by the third-party booking site I used, but not for the full amount of my travel.

Wouldn't you know it: the startup ultra-low-budget airline I was going to be using went out of business on the morning of the day I was supposed to travel, leaving me in a position of having to scramble to find another carrier at the last minute.

The booking company did reach out and make several offers /reminders that I was entitled to reimbursement up to the level of their coverage but I feared that taking that money would invalidate my claim against the original carrier for a complete refund (which they promised they'd see to).  

I dutifully filed my claim with the now-defunct airline and promptly received a notification that they were inundated and would get to me "in due time".  I waited patiently, filed again a month later, and got the same result.

Naturally, by that time the claim window from the booking agency had closed and I ended up getting nothing from either party so the (expensive) joke was on me, and entirely of my own doing.

C'est la vie.

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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo Keith Adams

Somewhat related to your airline going out of business story (what luck!), is our COVID era reservation with the Prince of Wales hotel in Waterton Lakes, Canada. We had planned a splurge finish for our border to border tour. We booked through booking.com, as it was cheaper than going direct. Then COVID happened, and the border closed. I canceled our booking with booking.com. They said it was up to the hotel to refund us. It was an expensive room. I checked back a number of times before I finally received a refund. It was a relief when it came through. 

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1 month ago
David FritschTo John Pescatore

We frequently purchase trip insurance, partly because we have elderly relatives which make expensive tours far in the future “iffy”. Most on-line  customer reviews address the purchase process which companies make as easy as possible. Reviews about making claims are harder to find. Here’s a review I wrote of one of our experiences. 

A Travel Insurance Review
We purchased travel insurance for a May 2022 bicycle tour to Greece. We shopped for insurance on Insuremytrip.com. Many of the reviews of the various companies listed on the site rated the companies based on the ease of purchasing the insurance, not on how responsive the companies were when a claim was filed. Unfortunately, we are now in the position of being able to rate the company we selected because we submitted two claims. While our policy communication referenced “Squaremouth Travel Insurance” it also said the “Policy Name” was “Seven Corners Round Trip Basic”. “Seven Corners Inc.” is the company we seemed to be dealing with throughout the processing of our claims. “Seven Corners” was also the name on the (mostly useless) phone app they provided.
Purchasing the insurance was pretty easy other than their requirement that you specify the earliest date you committed for the cost of the tour/travel, even though in our case we didn’t make flight arrangements until much later. Emails regarding the purchase of the insurance and a copy of the policy was provided in a timely manner. A feature of this particular policy was that it covered trip cancellation or interruptions caused by Covid.
Our first claim was under the category of “Stolen Property”. 15 minutes before loading a ferry to a Greek Island my backpack was stolen. It was not possible to report the theft to any police because there weren’t any, and the ferry wasn’t going to wait for me. The policy covered $500/person, while we valued the contents at $800. While on the ferry I used the previously referenced Seven Corners Phone app to report the theft and our inability to report it to the police. That communication through the app disappeared and no employee of Seven Corners ever made any attempt to locate the communication or for that matter even seemed aware that the app existed. After returning home I went through a lot of effort to obtain receipts to document $438 of the loss. Claim contact numbers listed in the app were obsolete. Ultimately I emailed the claim to Seven Corners on 6-7-22.
Our second claim was under the category of “Trip Cancel, Trip Delay, Or Trip Interrupt”. On the final day of the riding portion of our bicycle tour, my wife became ill and had to make an emergency overnight visit to the hospital. The tour group continued on to Athens without us. Medical expenses were negligible and we didn’t incur any additional lodging expenses because of the incredible generosity of our Greek guide. He arranged a taxi for us five days later to Athens which was to cost 200 Euros. The taxi provided us a receipt which, since it was written in Greek I could not read. A waiter assured us it was a taxi receipt but, frankly, I could not make sense of the numbers on the receipt. The cost for the taxi was the only cost we claimed for our Trip Delay or Trip Interrupt. We had obtained documentation from a Doctor that my wife was medically unable to travel along with the original tour group. I emailed the claim to Seven Corners on 6-7-22. It included the documentation from the doctor and the copy of the taxi receipt.
Although we submitted only two claims, Seven Corners eventually referenced five claim numbers. This compounded communications with them as they frequently sent emails that appeared to be computer generated after an email or phone contact with me. I often could not tell which claim the emails were referencing or if company was confirming or reneging on a decision or statement that had just been made by a customer service representative. We exchanged at least 24 emails. Phone calls always resulted in long waits. For example on 6- 21-22 I spent 27 minutes on hold until their answering service finally said “agents were

 handling other emergencies and an agent would call me back in 1-2 days”. I was told that the average processing time was 104 days because of Covid emergencies.
The stolen property claim resulted in a great deal of confusion related to documentation of the cost of the stolen items but ultimately Seven Corners denied the claim because no police report had been filed. Interestingly the text they included in the denial email differed from the text in the Policy they provided when I purchased the insurance. The claim was rejected 71 days after submission.
The Trip Interruption claim chaos began with Seven Corners requesting documentation of the taxi receipt which had been included in the original claim. Seven Corners struggled to understand the basic concept that the taxi cost had been incurred on a date after the trip was supposed to have ended. Finally, the claim was approved and payment received 141 days after submission.
At some point in the claims process I became a little stubborn and continued to engage with Seven Corners wondering if they were fraudulent. It is possible they rarely deal with lost luggage claims that do not directly involve an airline or cruise ship. Trip interruptions like ours for only a small monetary cost might also be unusual. But, their poor customer service, written and phone communication and useless phone app are reasons to avoid Seven Corners and Square Mouth Travel Insurance.

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1 month ago
David FritschTo John Pescatore

Inadvertently posted twice. Can’t figure out how to delete my forum post, so I just shortened it. Sorry. 

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1 month ago
George HallTo John Pescatore

During my 46 year working career, I traveled quite a bit.  Mostly within the U.S. (every state including Alaska and Hawaii) and just a wee bit overseas.  While that was business travel, I also traveled a bit for vacations and such, including the far-flung U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii and just a wee bit to other countries (Mexico, the Caribbean, a bit of Europe).  I was a gold-level frequent flyer on American Airlines for some dozen years in a row.  I certainly haven't traveled as much as many folks, but I have some fair amount of experience.   I've been retired for 3 years now and still have enough frequent-flyer points for at least a couple more free flights.

So with that background, let me say that I never buy the travel insurance.  Firstly, the risk is very low that I will need it. And secondly, as others have pointed out, sometimes collecting on it can prove to be almost impossible - I say that based on the experiences of my colleagues and friends who gave up trying to collect on their cancelled-trips policies. 

If I should end up losing a pre-paid non-refundable fee for an airline flight or hotel, it's really not that big of a loss as compared to the overall costs that the trip would have incurred anyway.  So I save the cost of the insurance fee and accept the small risk of trip cancellation and other travel-related issues.  

I have been stranded overnight while traveling many times, have had my luggage completely lost several times, have had my luggage damaged numerous times - you know, all the joys we experience these days.  The airlines have always reimbursed me for the cost of new luggage and lost contents.    You will have to deal with whatever inconveniences befall you, whether you have trip insurance or not. 

YMMV of course, but as for me the trip insurance folks aren't getting my hard-earned money.  I truly dislike flying anymore and avoid it unless there is no other practical choice anyway.   Hey, I wonder how else one could travel - maybe ride a bicycle?  (just wishful thinking, we all have to travel to/from our bicycle adventures somehow).   Peace out,

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1 month ago