Travel Insurance is for Chumps – Expedia Saves the Day

Warning: this is a long post in which I rant.  Read if you will at your own risk 😀

I can’t remember if I shared with you all that before Christmas, the husband and I booked a trip to Jamaica to attend a wedding of some very good friends (yay another destination wedding!).  The trip is a little later than the expected “destination wedding” and is May 29 – June 5.

So then we find out we’re expecting and it puts us in the position to decide if we’re going to go.  It’s not that we’re opposed to traveling while pregnant, it’s that it will be 10 weeks before my due date which is a little too close for my comfort.  Luckily, we purchased cancellation insurance right?!

Travel Insurance is for suckers

So we start reading our “insurance” documents and it says if you’re canceling due to pregnancy, departure date has to be NINE weeks before or after your due date to qualify unless your doctor says that you are “high risk” or has another reason to say you shouldn’t go.  During my doctor’s visit on Tuesday, my doctor said she would write me a letter if I needed her to but she had hoped they would be “reasonable” about it since my return date put me over by about 2 days.  Common sense says that we DO have to fly home ya know, but apparently that’s not important in the insurance policy.

I do, in fact, have another medical reason that could potentially interfere with my ability to travel during that time, but it isn’t known at this early stage in the pregnancy.  That reason is that due to the injuries I sustained in my MVA nearly 4 years ago where I dislocated and fractured my hip, I now have bursitis which I am being treated for which has already included a steroid injection (obviously not while I’m pregnant) and any further treatment of that kind will have to wait until after the baby is born. 

It is impossible to know how this pregnancy is going to affect me in that regard until I start getting bigger and start to see if it does cause me added pain (I already had one excruciating day on New Year’s day that can’t really be explained, but I couldn’t even walk up the stairs or lift my leg – it obviously wasn’t due to added weight of the baby, but it was the worst I have ever felt in the last 4 years since I’ve recovered from the accident.  So that leads me to believe that I haven’t seen the end of the hip pain issues during this pregnancy, but that remains to be seen.)  So for that reason, my doctor agreed that it is a condition that would support my cancellation request and she would write me a letter if I needed her to.  Great.

We booked our trip through Expedia and purchased our travel insurance through them which is a different insurance company for about $120 per person.  So I called up Expedia (per my “declaration letter” from the insurance company) and they directed me to the insurance company to call first. (I can already see what kind of gong show this is going to be having me call all over the place.)  So I call and tell “Julie” the situation and she starts counting weeks and says that I’ll be 10 weeks and the policy only covers for 9.  Then I proceed to tell her that my return flight puts me over and she informs me that the policy only deals with “departure” dates.  Can you say crock?! 

So then she starts confusing me with all of the different people I now need to call and all of the hoops I now have to jump through.  Now I am a smart girl and I had to go through it with yer about 5 times in exasperation to see if I understood it correctly.  She tells me I have to call Expedia, give them my “Claim #” and then have to cancel my trip through them.  They then contact the airline and it’s the AIRLINE who decides whether they will reimburse our airfare or just issue us a credit to be used within one year.  If they decide the latter and I don’t want the “credit” because C’MON we’re going to be new parents and the likelihood of using those tickets int he next year is SLIM, then we have to write to them and say that we do not accept the credit and then the insurance company must decide whether our request is reasonable to refund us for the tickets.  OH and we have to pay a non-refundable cancellation fee to cancel the trip on TOP of probably NOT getting back the money from the airline.

And THEN she tells me that I MUST have my doctor write my letter within 72 HOURS of this claim being started, but I can’t send the letter to them until I receive their claim form which I won’t receive for 7 – 10 business days.  So basically, they were forcing me to impose on MY doctor a timeline to write this letter (or have it “dated” within 72 hours of that moment) because she explained they were invoking the “emergency” clause of the policy which requires the physicians to respond in that time.  I was at a loss to understand this because OBVIOUSLY my situation is pregnancy and not a heart attack.  Apparently their little policy doesn’t distinguish this in a reasonable way. 

So I am a pretty darn reasonable and level-headed person who does not normally overreact, but bloggies, I am pregnant and I have hormones and I’m not afraid to use them.  Poor “Julie” got an earful from me and while I know it is “just her job” to respond to these claims according to the “policy” but if you don’t express your dissent about how ridiculous it is to their representative, then there’s nothing communicated. I was not in the mood to start asking for her “manager” and spew it to them either.  I did express to her that I was apologetic for my tone to her, but that it couldn’t be helped.  Most people wouldn’t have even done that, but that’s just me.

Okay done, now I must call my doctor and tell her to drop what she’s doing and write ME a letter so that I don’t lose my vacation money…..yeah….sounds like a priority over the people who need letters from their doctor to receive medical benefits and coverage for medical equipment and worker’s compensation right? Pfffffffffffft.

So now I’m on to “Step 2” of what Julie tells me I have to do and that’s to call Expedia and cancel my trip.  So I call and I get “Brittany” who tells me I can’t cancel my trip until it’s completely paid for.  At this point we were only in our deposit and I was already fired up from dealing with the ridiculous insurance company and I was like, “Oh no, no, no, no I’m NOT giving you $2,300 MORE of my money just so that it won’t be refunded to me!”  And while I feel bad for Brittany for being on the receiving end of my exasperated hormonal self, she did nothing to explain the process to me at all other than to say, “Well it just comes off your credit card automatically.”  So then I just about hit the roof and said I need to hang up because I had nothing to say at this moment!

So I’m red in the face, sick to my stomach (as if I wasn’t enough already), stressed and teary-eyed because fact is that we (NO one) can afford to spend that kind of money, especially when you’re not even getting to GO on the vacation to justify it in whatever way makes you feel better!

So then we start entertaining ideas about canceling our credit card.  Then I wondered what would be involved in “changing” the date to be earlier so if we did get a credit, maybe we could put it to use in maybe April instead of probably never. So then hubby calls up Expedia and talks to a different lady and they start chatting and hitting it off and she starts yelling through the phone in excitement about our great news that we’re going to be parents and she tells us that “YES” of course there is something they could do for us!  She said there would be absolutely NO issue in getting our hotel accommodations refunded and that is a given.  The only issue “may” be with the flights because they were marked as “special fare” (read: good deal and not likely refundable), but worst case scenario would be paying a fee to have them changed.  But of course better than losing it all and we were going to have to pay a fee “anyway” for cancellation.  Okay so we hang up, discuss it and we decide to go ahead and bite the bullet and whip out the credit card and complete the payment for the trip.  This made me SO nervous.

I called back and got “Paul” so we could go ahead bite the bullet pay for the trip and then cancel it to get the process started so that we could potentially use our “credit” for an earlier trip in April.  So Paul ends up being a complete sweetheart and helpful all the way around.  He starts telling me that there would be absolutely no problem getting the hotel refunded (just like the other lady said) and that would be processed immediately and we would have it refunded on our credit card within 5 – 7 days.  This amount was already MORE than what we had to pay just then to pay off the trip, so already we’re happy. 

So I say “GREAT!” and then he says, “we’ll really it’s not because it’s YOUR MONEY!”  (reminding me of what’s really going on) and I was like “YEAH! it IS my money!”  We start to forget and feel totally helpless after talking to people like travel insurance companies!  He was totally on our side and it was obvious from his statement.  Then he starts calling me “Angel” and being all cute and made me already feel like I was on my vacation the way the staff flatters you – you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever traveled down south ;-). 

So then he proceeds to tell me that getting the refund for the airfare would take a little longer but would also not be a problem.  And I expressed my disbelief that this was possible because I had purchased INSURANCE and I just went through the whole gong show with them who was supposed to have my back on refunding my money and pretty much told me I had to jump through 394848 hoops was in the hands of the airline and was pretty much SOL and then PAUL from EXPEDIA doesn’t even require that I HAVE insurance!!  He didn’t even care that our fare was “special” and explained that there are “three parties involved” when we pay them for a trip:

  1. Expedia
  2. The airline
  3. A Canadian 3rd party bank that holds and protects our money for the airfare in case something happens to the airline so we can still travel

and he said that because “we no longer wish to travel” our money would be refunded (minus the cancellation fee of $120 per person which isn’t that much in the grand scheme and wish we hadn’t wasted our money on the insurance).  He explained that because the money is held with the 3rd party, it will take 2 billing cycles to have it refunded but that he was creating the necessary ball in motion for that to happen but there shouldn’t be any issues.

HUH??  WHAT????  REALLY???!?!  I had to get him to explain and verify this to me at least three times just so that I would know it was real!

So then he asks me what it was we were canceling for his own curiosity, so I explained and he started going on about how great it was and wanted me to congratulate my husband and that he had 3 kids of his own and told me their names etc.,

I then proceeded to tell him if our baby was a boy, his name would be Paul….:-D

He was like, “Really?!?!”

I was like, “Well, probably not, but I sincerely appreciate all of your help and you were so much helpful!”  He was genuinely concerned that I wasn’t getting the service I need from someone else at Expedia.  Truth was, with the exception of “Brittany” when I first called them, they were all very helpful so I didn’t complain about them to him, just the rip off insurance company.

I could not believe I would be able to sleep!

We will most definitely continue to use Expedia for travel in the future!

Pheeeeeeeeeeeeew!  Thank you Paul!!

(I am still holding my breathe for 2 billing cycles, but a happy girl at the moment!)

Come celebrate with Mrs. Mona Ellis

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