• Action 9: Family says travel insurance barely covered nightmare trip

    By: Jason Stoogenke


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Gonzalez family was traveling to Panama.

    "We were going," Melissa Gonzalez said, "to my husband's country for a vacation."

    The Gonzalezes flew, but their first flight got in late.  

    [ALSO READ: Action 9: Woman cancels trip to donate kidney; travel insurance refuses to pay claim]

    "So I'm with two kids and had to grab [my younger one], pick her up, and just run," Gonzalez said.

    They still missed their connection in south Florida.  

    She told Action 9 that -- by the end -- they had shelled out more money for extra flights, an extra hotel, Lyft, and a cab.  She said they spent $2,000 they didn't count on.

    They had travel insurance with Trip Mate.  

    "They said, if I had proof of all of my expenses, that they would reimburse me," Gonzalez said.

    But Gonzalez said the company only gave her $30.98.  

    [ALSO READ: Clarks trip and travel insurance guide]

    "I felt like I was robbed," she said. "My co-worker told me, 'Why don't you contact Action 9 news?' So I emailed and, then, I got a response right away."

    She said, once Action 9 got involved, Trip Mate agreed to cover the biggest expense, the extra flights.  But that still left them with part of the tab and frustration wondering what else they could have done.

    Travel insurance can be complicated.  

    If you buy travel insurance:

    • Read the policy carefully.  Typically, policies have all sorts of exceptions so the companies don't have to pay. 
    • The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The Better Business Bureau said companies bank on you giving up, but don’t. Keep pressing your claim.
    • If the company is BBB-accredited, you have a right to arbitration. Threaten to go that route. Many companies would rather pay you and move on.

    You buy it and you think, "I'm insured.  If anything goes wrong, I'm covered."  But, that's not usually the case.  

    Make sure you know what the policy covers.  And, more importantly, what it doesn't cover.  Think about your trip step by step and ask questions before you buy.

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