Trip Cancellation

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Trip Cancellation

Claims for trip cancellation coverage make up the majority of travel insurance claims submitted to a travel insurance company.  They also generate the most complaints from travel consumers.  As many as 1 in 30 insured travelers will have a trip cancellation claim.

Trip cancellation coverage will protect you if you have to cancel your trip due to one of the covered reasons listed in the policy for the non-refundable travel expenses that you pre-paid to participate on the trip.  Sounds simple but there are complications:

  • the reason that you cancel the trip has to be due to one of the specific covered reasons (perils and hazards) listed in the policy;
  • the reason must not be specifically excluded from coverage, e.g., civil unrest, foreseeable strikes, pre-existing medical conditions(except if you have the waiver), etc.;
  • the money that you are claiming has to be money that was specifically paid for the trip that you insured it can not include the "value" of an airline ticket that was a gift or a mileage award or a loyalty award.
What to expect at the time of a claim
The insurance company or their third party administrator(TPA) will send you a claim form the will usually contain three sections;
  • policy holder's statement - this is completed by you and asks you to describe why you are canceling your trip and if it's caused by a "family member" what their relationship is to you and to list the money that you paid for the trip and any refund provided;
  • attending physician's statement - since most trip cancellation claims are caused by a medical condition of either the insured person or one of their "family members" the insurance company will need to see from the physician who they treated, when they treated, when the symptoms first appeared, and when they recommended cancellation of the trip; and
  • medical information release - the person who was ill will have to sign.  It authorizes the insurance to company to obtain information concerning the person's condition and treatment.

The insurance company or TPA will also require that you submit to them documentation backing up your payments to prove that you paid the money that you are claiming and documentation that the money is non-refundable.  Documents that show the payments as non-refundable would include any tour or cruise document that contains a "cancellation" provision, actual airline tickets and/or electronic documents, copies of refund checks or statements.

Keep in mind that the reason that you are canceling the trip must be due to one of the specific covered reasons found in the policy.  Don't make it complicated, keep your answer simple and direct to the specific covered reason/s that caused the cancellation.
Note that the biggest cause for delay in processing a claim concerns the amount and quality of the information that you provide.  Always provide the insurance company the information that they requested - do not assume that they know it even though it might be apparent.  Also make sure you copy everything that you send to the insurance company.
As with all claims, the burden of proof is on you so the more information you have and the closer you follow the insurance company's instructions the faster they will be able to handle you claim and the more accurate they will be able to pay you.