Hi all fellow travelers. I am writing this post to share with you an event that has happened to me. This is regarding travel insurance.
I am writing in detail what happened so hopefully this does not happen to anyone else.
Last June/July, my wife and I went to Aruba. We live in Toronto and generally fly out of Buffalo. We have done this on many occasions without any problems. I use my American Express Aeroplan Gold Card to book the flight and the accommodation for the overnight stay in Buffalo area due to the Travel Insurance it offers. This past June/July we booked to Aruba on JetBlue out of Buffalo via JFK. The flight to Aruba was uneventful, however the return portion had issues. The afternoon of our return saw problems, starting with major delays to the inbound flight to Aruba, which was the flight we would return to JFK on. As we own on the island I asked JetBlue personnel whether I should leave the following day as I was concerned about luggage and missing the connection to Buffalo. The personnel in Aruba contacted flight ops for JetBlue in US as there were a number of passengers in the same predicament. We were given every assurance that time would be made up and connections would be made. (MY FIRST BIG MISTAKE...LISTENING TO THEM AND ACCEPTING THIS.) After boarding, the plane taxied out and the pilot came on to advise of a further delay attributable to Curacao air traffic control handling other aircraft scheduled for this time period and we were held due to the late arrival and departure of JetBlue. The original time slot had been missed and therefore we waited getting further delayed.
We get to JFK late and experienced yet another delay. Upon leaving the plane at JFK, I asked about the Buffalo flight. It too was messed up and delayed. We sit and wait for almost an hour. Flight finally leaves and we get to Buffalo late. In fact early in the next morning . At Buffalo, the baggage is off loaded and I find myself with a group of people all missing baggage. The baggage rep is not phased and states that this is a common occurrence for flights connecting from the Caribbean through JFK. She fills out missing baggage reports and advises that the bags will be in on the 7:00am flight from JFK and to call around 8:30am to check as they should be offloaded and available at that time.
I call AMEX and they advise that if the luggage is delayed more than 4 hrs, and we are delayed, then book into a hotel and stay overnight. This what we did.
At 8:15am I call the number for the baggage office at the airport to be advised that yes the bags had arrived. I indicated I was on my way to pick them up as we wanted to get back to our house early that morning. At this stage I am told not to bother as they had sent by courier the bags to our Toronto address. This was distressing. Our car which was parked at the hotel has a special security system and electronic key. Turns out the key was accidentally packed into one of the main bags. The dealerships and car manufacturer could not get a replacement for approx 3 days.
At this point I again contacted the 1 800 number for Amex and explained this and stated the requirement to rent a car, drive to Toronto and get a spare key. OK say Amex. I rent a car from Hertz using my AMEX...again for the insurance provision.
I drive to Toronto get the keys and return the rental to Hertz in Buffalo. Here is where it gets interesting. Upon renting the car, we advised that we would need to get back to the Hotel. Hertz said no problem that they would ferry us to the hotel upon return of the car. This didn't happen. Upon return they were short staffed and receiving a batch of new cars. They did call us a taxi, which seemed reasonable.
The taxi from Buffalo International Airport Taxi showed up and in we piled. At this time tired and fed up. Approx 2 blocks from the Hertz office, while making a left hand turn, the taxi driver comes to a complete stop in an intersection against oncoming traffic to read a message on his cell phone. Well we got hit. At the time we seemed to be OK just badly shaken up. Again back to AMEX as my wife was badly shaken, sore and did not want to drive as it was now late in the day. AMEX say OK stay and if required visit a hospital etc and report full details upon return to Canada. I am further advised to obtain a police report with accident details etc.
Now here is were it gets interesting. On the return to Toronto I notice a change in my eyesight. Not bad and I figured just tiredness and stress. I awake next day blind in my right eye. Rush to hospital where they diagnose internal bleeding behind the eye. Immediately rushed to ophthalmology at one of Canada's leading hospitals, where 60 mins later I am in surgery. I am advised of permanent and irreversible damage and loss of sight in that eye and also declared disabled.
That is what happened.....now a year later this where we are at:
On reporting the details etc to AMEX they start a conference call with me and with Royal SunLife to take all details and start the claim process. I provide this and think no more about it. Several weeks go by during which I have several more surgeries. I then get a call from RoyalSunLife rejecting the claim on the grounds that I was inbound travelling home and that their policy coverage for Amex Travel insurance only covers outbound. I was flabbergasted. I phoned AMEX over an approx 3 month period and got a total runaround. I question the coverage and finally a "manager" asks why I was filing a claim with RoyalSunAlliance as the Gold Card coverage is provided by ACE INA insurance.
Finally we file a claim and hear nothing for months. Finally I get a phone call to advise me they have rejected the claim. I ask why and am advised that the flight landed in the next day and that was not the scheduled time for which the policy applies. As I mentioned above, due to the delays, the flight landed in Buffalo after midnight and the the original booking showed be before midnight. Feeling this was wrong due to trip delay, lost baggage and the accident ( for which we were not at fault), I contacted our lawyers who picked up the matter and communicated with the insurance company.
At this time, they have again come back and stated that they reject our appeal of their earlier decision. The reason..........as far as they are concerned point of departure was Buffalo and point of return is Buffalo and they have tied everything to original departure and arrival times in Buffalo. It doesn't matter that baggage was lost, that they were informed etc. I have had the lawyers obtain and review the contract of coverage. This could prove to be a hard battle to win. AMEX ACE INA have all chosen to ignore the delays and other factors. They are making the air portion the issue for denial.
I write this as I know a lot travel from their homes in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto etc to close US Airports for more attractive fares. Just be very careful with your insurance coverage and expectations.
First, I am so sorry. I have an all too "first hand" understanding of what you are going through (eye, cancer scare). I was very lucky and wish you the same.
To see that you're selling your timeshares is sad, but understandable. I hope that, some day, you and your wife are well enough to go back and enjoy Aruba.
I think that you need to contact a nasty, aggressive attorney on a retainer. Your trip insurance might not be worth the bother, but there are likely a number of "pockets" that have a liability for your eye injury....taxi company, auto insurance liability carrier.
Thanks for the encouragement. You are correct about retaining legal assistance and that has been done. The whole situation is made somewhat complex due to the fact that we are residents in Ontario, Canada and the accident happened in NY State. In Ontario, if you are involved in an accident, your auto policy comes into play. This is governed by law. Each year when a policy renews. a portion of the premium goes to fund liability and covers income replacement etc. This was legislated into law a number of years back. It covers a situation where the other party either does not have insurance or is under insured. In this case and in the following sequence here is how the parties are legally liable...the taxi driver (who was charged and found at fault) the driver who hit us, the taxi company, the taxi company's insurance company and then our insurance company. Add to this the aspects of NY law and Ontario law.
As you see it is a little complex.
My post and relaying of the situation was too make sure that others don't get into a situation like this. Amex make it seem like coverage is from door to door from your home. I really have to question their ethics.
I am horrified at the run around you have been given especially since you were proactive and got travel insurance....our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family...
I agree with rob o....get a really nasty lawyer to fight for you.....insurance companies have theirs and that is way they get away with this kind of nonsense....
Wow, Aquaman! You can't make this stuff up? So sorry to read about your horrendous experience. I wish you much luck with getting some kind of compensation.
I too have had a bad experience w/travel insurance, but it in no way compares to Aquaman's troubles. We decided to purchased a good size insurance policy for a 2 week trip to Aruba back in September 2010 on account that my mother was very ill. (We planned the trip prior to her becoming ill, or we never would have made the arrangements.) Anyway, to make a long story short; 18hrs into our trip, I get "the call". Mom is not doing well, and we better head home. We paid the owner at Crystal Beach Villa in full the minute we arrived, which was our first mistake, as I believe I had a couple of days to pay her. We were there for less than 24hrs, and she would not reimburse us any portion of the rent. What angered me was that a large portion of rent goes towards utilities, right? We only used 18hrs worth of utilities most of which we were sleeping. So, I felt that under the circumstances she could have at least gave us a portion of our rent back, OR offered us to come back another week during the off season. We did manage to collect a portion of the first week's rent from the insurance company, so all was not lost. Now...here's what happened to our 2nd insured week.
This is where it gets interesting. Aquaman's AMEX insurance company is using specific dates to deny his claim, and our insurance WOULD not use specific dates to compensate us! Our 2nd week was booked at another villa. We were insured, and paid a premium for this particular week Sept 19th thru 26th for a specific circumstance (death of family member). My mother passed, and we were not able to use the villa at all during that particular insured week. This villa owner did however offer for us to come back another week during the off season if we wanted. The insurance company said that because of this offer they could not pay us the claim. Now, we were insured for a specific time period for a specific risk. We had a legitimate claim, but the insurance would not pay. Suppose we were never able to get back to Aruba to take the owner up on his offer? After all, another trip back is going to cost us another $1000 airfare, and unpaid vacation time. The whole travel insurance industry is such a scam. I don't even consider buying it anymore.