Woman wins fight against travel insurance company

After a year, a woman got reimbursed from her insurance company

Travel Insurance News - 08/05/2008

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In January 2007, before setting out on a Carnival cruise holiday, Sheila Gerlock took out a comprehensive travel insurance policy for herself and for her husband. A year later, she is still trying to get back thousands of dollars the company refuses to reimburse her.

"The insurance company refused to pay. I wrote them and then appealed their decision twice and then contacted the ombudsman, all to no avail," she said. "Bottom line: It did not fall within their risk categories."

Gerlock and her husband were on a cruise with 2,000 others when a passenger became ill and required medical attention. The ship turned back to get medical care, delaying the ship by 12 hours.

"We missed our flight home because we got there at 8 p.m. and our flight was at 2 p.m. the same afternoon," she said.

When Gerlock tried to change flights, she discovered that everything was booked. In order to get home, she had to buy new flights, which cost her $2,500.

Gerlock thought her travel insurance policy would cover her but she was wrong. "It wasn't listed as a possible risk factor in RBC's policy. It wasn't listed as an exclusion, either," Gerlock said.

She says that hijacking was covered under the policy, an event which she argues applies in this case. "We were moved against our control to another destination. Did we have a choice? No, not at all. What were we supposed to do? Jump?"

RBC, Gerlock’s travel insurance provider, disagrees. Things were in a deadlock until Milan Korcok, a medical journalist and expert at all matters relating to travel insurance, intervened.

"Even though RBC did not cite this ship diversion as an exclusion – they can hardly cite every possible exclusion – it was a diversion caused by a change of scheduling over which you had no control," he told Gerlock after hearing her case.

Gerlock’s persistence also had an effect on other travellers. "We have recently enhanced our travel insurance product to provide increased coverage for clients taking cruise vacations," said Kerry Gaetano, an RBC Insurance spokesperson.

"We wanted to ensure that all recent related claims were reviewed in light of the additional coverage we added to our products. We are pleased to have been able to pay related travel insurance claims that were previously denied."

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