After Talor Min’s husband dies during a trip to Malaysia, she files a claim with her travel insurance companies for the repatriation of his remains. One year later, she’s still trying to get her money back.
How Travel Insurance works for Repatriation
Help! My travel insurance company won’t pay to bring my husband’s body home
Q: On a trip to Malaysia last summer, my husband was hospitalized with an infection and died. We had two active travel insurance policies at the time, one with Liverpool Victoria and the other with Seven Corners. The two policies overlapped by a couple of days.
When my husband became ill, we had two days left on our policy with Liverpool Victoria. I didn’t pursue a claim at the time because I was emotionally incapable of dealing with it, but also because I had the policy with Seven Corners, which began the date he was hospitalized.
When I came home, I submitted all of the required paperwork to Seven Corners. The company came back at me several times requesting more paperwork — pretty much what I’d already submitted. Months would go by and I’d get in touch to see how it was going, and they’d ask for more paperwork again and claim they were working on it.
A few weeks ago, when I hadn’t heard from the company for a while, I sent another email and got a reply that the claim had been transferred to a different person, and now she’s asking me for all the paperwork again. Can you believe it?
I’m appealing to you for help and guidance. Can you help me recover the $19,166, which covers the repatriation of my husband’s remains and airfare? — Talor Min, Seattle
A: I’m so sorry for your loss. Your insurance company should have promptly reimbursed you for your expenses, which are covered under your policy.
I can understand how you would be too upset to do any paperwork at the time of your husband’s death, but even so, you did end up filing a claim with Seven Corners’ policy on time: You have a year to file, according to the company.
It appears you were stuck in a paperwork loop of some kind, where the company kept asking you for the same forms over and over again. I’ve seen that happen before, although rarely with this kind of case. Travel insurance companies typically are very sensitive to surviving family members. Chances are, after hearing your complaint, Seven Corners tried to transfer your case to someone more senior who could help expedite your claim.
A travel insurance company should never apologize for asking for documentation; its underwriters require it. But it should be sorry for requesting the same receipts over and over. That’s just wrong.
You could have appealed this to someone higher up. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Seven Corners managers on my consumer-advocacy site: http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/seven-corners/.
I contacted Seven Corners on your behalf. The company said you hadn’t sent the documents, which included a kinship affidavit, proof of medical bills paid and proof of funeral expenses paid. Indeed, it appears you had sent some of those forms to Liverpool Victoria instead, the other insurance company.
With a little encouragement from my advocacy team, you re-sent the paperwork. Seven Corners agreed to pay your claim.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at [email protected]
(c) 2018 Christopher Elliott. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
4 Travel Insurance Tips for Adventurous Winter Travelers
More travelers are planning adventurous experiences this winter, with interest increasing more than 150% compared to last year, according to customer data from travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth.
With more travelers taking to the slopes, Squaremouth reveals 4 travel insurance tips that even the most daring adventure-seekers should know before participating in activities this winter.
1. Don’t Pay More for Popular Winter Sports
Common winter sports like skiing and snowboarding can be covered under a standard travel insurance policy, and don’t require expensive upgrades. Even extreme activities, like heli-skiing or ice climbing, can be covered by policies specifically designed to cover those more dangerous activities.
Tip: Many travel insurance policies don’t explicitly list all the activities they cover. Call your travel insurance provider, or use this activity selection matrix, to ensure your sports are covered.
2. Expensive Equipment Rentals and Lift Tickets Can Be Reimbursed
Travelers can be reimbursed for all of their prepaid costs, including equipment rentals, lift tickets or lessons, if they have to cancel or interrupt their trip for a reason covered by the policy.
Tip: Remember to insure one-off costs like rentals or lessons. If you are prevented from traveling because of an illness, injury, or unexpected winter storm, you may be reimbursed for these often expensive arrangements.
3. Costly Medical Evacuation Can Be Covered
With the majority of travelers staying stateside for their winter trips this year, medical evacuation coverage can be a key benefit, as most U.S. health insurance companies do not cover evacuation services. This benefit can coordinate and cover evacuation if a traveler is injured while skiing or snowboarding in the mountains, where medical care isn’t easily accessible.
Tip: Consider a medical-only policy. Domestic travelers can typically spend less on a travel insurance policy, than on their primary medical deductible, especially if an evacuation is required.
4. Protection for Personal Sports Equipment
Some travel insurance policies provide reimbursement if a traveler’s sports equipment is lost or damaged during their trip. This benefit can also reimburse travelers if they incur additional expenses renting new equipment on their trip.
Top 10 Travel Destinations to the Start the New Decade
For many, traveling offers an opportunity to disconnect from the everyday and experience new places and cultures. With the beginning of a new decade, it is the perfect time to start deciding your next travel adventures.
When booking your future destinations, consider these spots and tips recommended by travel expert and Bank of America ambassador, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country plus the North and South Poles.
From its deserts to tropical beaches, Australia is a beautiful country to explore. While many people might be familiar with the Sydney Opera House and the unique wildlife, there are many hidden gems in Australia.
“I’ve been to Australia 10 times and I still can’t get enough,” Abbamonte said. “One of my favorite cities is Melbourne. While it’s one of the largest cities in Australia, the heart of the city is hidden and secretive. It comes to life when you visit the alleys, laneways and arcades. The vibrant city has so much to offer: cafes, a unique street culture and street art.”
2. New Zealand
If you are going to New Zealand for the first time, Abbamonte recommends boogie boarding down the sand dunes, hiking up a volcano and visiting the Moeraki Boulders. However, if you are really interested in getting the blood pumping, take a leap from Nevis Bungy near Queenstown. It is among the highest bungy jumping experiences in the world, measuring 440 feet.
“Mexico City has two of my favorite things – great food and sports,” Abbamonte said. “The street tacos are to die for, and I love going to soccer games at Estadio Azteca.”
In 2020, there will be many festivals to explore. The city is a cultural hub with music, theater, dance and food events throughout the year. While experiencing the festivities, it is also an opportune time to take a step back and enjoy Chapultepec Park.
One of Abbamonte’s favorite waterfalls is Iguazu Falls located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. While Iguazu Falls might be well known, the falls themselves are truly unique. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls that stretch over approximately 1.68 miles. The Devil’s Throat is the tallest fall with a drop of more than 262 feet.
While traveling internationally can be fun and exhilarating, there are also places throughout the United States that offer memorable activities:
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
If you enjoy being outdoors, Scottsdale is an ideal place to visit. There are many trails to explore in Camelback Mountain, Papago Park and Hole in the Rock. After hiking, follow Abbamonte’s example and golf at The Short Course at Mountain Shadows.
“Scottsdale has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the States, and from The Short Course at Mountain Shadows, I get to enjoy the view while practicing my swing,” he said.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
“I love sports, so I visit Boston regularly for the professional games,” Abbamonte said. “I’m also fortunate that Boston is a beautiful city I can enjoy along the way.”
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the country. Founded in 1630, Boston is filled with history, museums and universities. If you are interested in a more unique attraction, check out the Warren Anatomical Museum, which is one of the last of its kind in the United States.
7. Portland, Oregon
What makes Portland unique are the bizarre and wonderful things you can do when you visit. For example, you can try bone marrow ice cream, stop by Mill Ends Park (the world’s smallest park) or attach your wish to The Wishing Tree.
“Portland is absolutely beautiful,” Abbamonte said. “It has a bit of everything – restaurants, bars, parks – and I enjoy the people watching. Portland has some of the nicest people while maintaining an edgy vibe.”
8. Tampa, Florida
Tampa might be known for its spring break party scene, but it has so much more to offer. For example, the city’s zoos and aquariums provide opportunities to interact directly with animals. Then you can take a break at Clearwater Beach, which is known for its soft, white sand and calm waters.
9. Santa Barbara, California
“I go to Santa Barbara when I want to recharge,” Abbamonte said. “I enjoy the food, walking around, talking to the locals and even watching a football game or two.”
There are wine tours, zoos, beaches, museums and restaurants. While taking in the city, also make time to visit the hidden gems such as Knapp’s Castle ruins.
10. England, Germany, Scotland, Azerbaijan and more
While technically more than one place, these locations have one thing in common: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2020. The international soccer event marks the first time the games will be held across the continent in 12 host cities.
“The year is a big one for sports,” Abbamonte said. “From sporting events in Europe to Japan, it is a fun year for travel and to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
The 5 Most Anticipated Luxury Hotel Opening in 2020
Global luxury travel network Virtuoso® is sharing its list of the most exciting properties around the world debuting over the next six months. From the eternally popular such as France and Mexico to the more exotic, including Japan and Botswana, these hotels and resorts are setting new standards in the ultra-competitive luxury space. On Virtuoso’s must-see list, historic icons meet sleek beach resorts while lodges nestled in nature complement city retreats. The common thread amongst them is that these properties will delight guests with their distinctive character, varied experiences and superior service.
Located in the heart of the City of Light, steps from the Louvre and the Marais, Cheval Blanc Paris combines historical, cultural and contemporary features for an authentic Parisian experience. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the 26 rooms and 46 suites offer views of famed landmarks and city life. Virtuoso exclusives: upgrade upon arrival if available, daily full American breakfast for two, fast-track immigration, complimentary round-trip private transfer with VIP meet and greet, spa access, complimentary Wi-Fi and early check-in and late check-out if available.
Set in a lush, beachfront jungle setting, the intimate resort boasts 104 standalone villas and treehouses – each with a private pool. Guests will have access to innovative culinary experiences, a lively beach club, wellness programming and a playground of adventures on land and sea. Virtuoso exclusives: upgrade on arrival if available, daily breakfast for two, $100 USD resort credit, complimentary Wi-Fi, early check-in and late check-out if available.
Located near Tokyo’s finest neighborhoods and attractions, the property will feature 206 rooms with stunning views of the city’s skyline, including 21 suites and a penthouse. A signature restaurant, cocktail bar and wellness spa will cultivate a unique, luxurious atmosphere. Virtuoso exclusives: upgrade upon arrival if available, daily breakfast for two, $100 USD hotel credit, complimentary Wi-Fi, and early check-in and late check-out if available.
A former refuge for royalty and Hollywood’s elite, Villa Igiea occupies a unique location overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Palermo. After a restoration, the iconic palazzo will showcase a fresh design while maintaining its timeless splendor. Virtuoso exclusives: upgrade on arrival if available, daily breakfast for two, $100 USD food and beverage credit, complimentary Wi-Fi, and early check-in and late check-out if available.
Xigera is defined by exceptional service, with 105 staff looking after just 24 guests in an intimate, exclusive bush experience. The solar-powered lodge offers 12 suspended suites surrounded by ancient trees and flood plains, showcasing bespoke works by Africa’s most exciting young artists and craftspeople. Virtuoso exclusives to be announced.
Virtuoso’s long-running Hotels & Resorts program has earned a reputation for launching new hotels, courtesy of its successful Preview initiative. The Virtuoso collection offers more than 1,400 outstanding hotels, resorts, spas, lodges, luxury camps and villas in over 100 countries. When booked by a Virtuoso advisor, either directly or at www.virtuoso.com, each property offers exclusive benefits valued at more than (U.S.) $500 per stay.
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