Thursday, June 14, 2012

Read the fine print

For the first time in my traveling life, I bought travel insurance.
My flight to Oklahoma was pricey and I wasn't sure I would be using my ticket to Tulsa.
My friend Margo is pretty sick and by the time my friend Paula and I could fly in to see her, it was likely she wouldn't be up to having visitors.
So I purchased flight insurance for $30 so if something happened, I wouldn't lose my $500.
That gave me a certain amount of peace as I got the daily reports on how my sick friend was doing.
I realized it was iffy from the start but I figured the most I would lose in dollars and cents would be my $30.
(Seems crass to worry about money when my friend is literally dying, but money around here is tight and I hate to waste it.)
When we got word that it probably wasn't going to work out to visit, I started calling the airline and the insurance company and explaining.
"Oh, that's too bad," the woman who answered the phone said with sympathy. "But your policy only covers a cancellation if YOU are the one who gets sick."
I explained that my friend was terminally ill and there was really no way to predict how quickly she'd lose ground.
"Oh, well, then," said the woman. "You're not covered for a pre-existing condition either."
Now I was getting mad.
I bought the insurance because the advertising makes it sound like you'll be covered in the event of an unexpected reason for cancellation. Now I'm finding there are all kinds of ticky-tacky rules and exceptions.
"We can refund your premium," offered the woman.
"Or you can rebook for another date within the year and still use your ticket," she added. "But that's a $150 additional charge."
My friend from LA was having the same sort of problem so rather than pay for tickets we don't use, we're still going.
We'll just give Margo a quick hug rather than a protracted visit.
We'll still get a chance to catch up with each other and mark the friendships.
And now I have a new mission to pursue.
I'm going to tell everyone I know NOT to buy travel insurance. Don't throw away your money.
There's no point.

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