I always recommend buying trip insurance if it's an expensive trip, or if you have the slightest concern you may have to cancel. One Florida woman did just that, because her husband was dying of cancer. But apparently, death wasn't covered by one company's insurance policy.
"Not only am I out the money for the cruise, I lost my husband," says Royal Caribbean passenger Maurene Leggett.
Leggett and her husband, Charles, had booked a getaway as he coped with cancer, but he relapsed before they could say "bon voyage." She's still struggling to get a refund, even though she had insurance.
Leggett knew a week cruise on Vision of the Seas with her husband may be their last big vacation as the 72-year-old battled colon cancer. He had been
feeling good enough to travel, so the couple booked the trip in January through AAA. A few weeks before they were to set sail in March, he was hospitalized and they had to cancel the cruise.
Charles died in April.
"We trusted Royal Caribbean and this is what happened, and I lost him," says Leggett.
"Instead of purchasing their policy, she thought it would be cheaper to go through Royal Caribbean's policy. That's what she told me," Leggett says.
While Royal Caribbean's insurance, called "Aon," covers illnesses, the fine print says a "pre-existing condition" is not covered.
"The travel agency did say they knew he had cancer. They knew we were taking out the insurance because he had cancer," Leggett explains.
The insurance company has offered Leggett 75 percent of the prepaid trip in cruise credit, which she still hasn't received.
"'You and your partner can have credit.' Well, what good is a credit going to do? He's not here. He's gone. And what good is it going to be for me to go on a cruise without him?" says Leggett. "I think in good faith, and ethically, they should refund my money."
Experts say it's important to know what you're buying and at the very least, make sure it covers what you need.
AAA, Royal Caribbean and Aon all looked into what went wrong for Leggett.
AAA came through for Leggett, giving her a full refund. The company said, "At this point, it's not AAA's responsibility to give her the money back, but we do strive to do what's right for our members and our clients, and after hearing her story, we could not not give her money back. It was just the right thing to do."
Royal Caribbean has not responded to this story.
Aon says it can't help and it's up to Royal Caribbean to handle the claim.
Prices of insurance vary depending on the level of coverage you desire. TravelGuard explains that the cost of travel insurance depends on the age of the traveler and the cost of the trip. Typically, you can expect to pay between 5 to 7 percent of the total trip cost. Cruisers can expect to pay about 40 percent more if they want to purchase "cancel for any reason" coverage, which can be added on as an upgrade to any of the aforementioned plans.
AAA suggests purchasing your travel insurance from an independent insurer, like Allianz Global Assistance through AAA Travel Agency, when you make your deposit for a trip. This is usually the best time because the policies contain an exclusion that can be waived for existing medical conditions when purchased within 14 days from paying your trip deposit.
While many cruise lines and tour operators offer their own travel insurance, they may carry less coverage. Benefits may stop between 24 and 72 hours before departure and, should the supplier go out of business or into bankruptcy, your policy may be worthless.
Before your travel insurance purchase, request a copy of the contract to understand what the policy covers and does not cover -- terms, limitations and exclusions apply -- and examine your other existing insurance policies.
AAA Travel Agency suggests you review auto insurance, umbrella policy, medical insurance and other policies you may have.
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