Despite insurance, trip cancellation frustrates couple

March 23, 2011 7:29:13 PM PDT
Vacations are expensive and so it's often a good idea to buy travel insurance. However, one couple did buy insurance and still couldn't get a refund when they had to cancel a trip.

Peggy and Clifford Williams were all set to go on aboard a princess luxury liner to Alaska.

"We know we'd enjoy a cruise to Alaska plus all the stops to see places we've never seen or been," she said.

However, a week before the trip, Peggy suddenly felt sick.

"The room spins about 90 miles per hour and you lose your equilibrium," she said.

"She got to vomiting and she had to lay down and stay in bed," Clifford said.

It was another attack of vertigo, a condition that strikes without warning, leaving her dizzy unbalanced and nauseous. No way could she be out at sea for 10 days.

"I know if we'd go on the trip, they'd have to send us home or some other thing," Clifford said.

"Since I had this in the past I knew what to do I took my medication and I went to bed and stayed until it was over and basically that's all you can do," Peggy said.

They canceled the trip but figured at least they'd get their money back. They'd purchased a vacation protection plan from Berkely Care Insurance and it's supposed to cover cancelations due to illness, except, Berkely Care refused to pay.

"Well I was angry. I really felt that they thought I was lying, that I hadn't gone through a problem," Peggy said.

Berkely Care said it rejected Peggy's claim because she didn't go to a doctor right away and a letter said the company "was unable to verify treatment for an illness."

"I explained to him I'd had vertigo for a number of years and I had medication and I knew what to do," she said.

Peggy went to a doctor later, but in the policy it says, "The sickness must be verified by a physician before you terminate the cruise not after." She didn't get a copy of the policy until after her claim was rejected. She would have gone to a doctor if she'd known. She told the company she suffered multiple attacks, including four during the time she would have been on the cruise.

"I certainly wouldn't have been very happy on that ship if I'd had four episodes," she said. "I would have spent 10 days in bed or been staggering around or maybe falling off who knows."

Berkely Care still refused to pay and the couple was out nearly $5,000.

"One person suggested I call Channel 7 On Your Side, so I did," Peggy said.

At our request Berkely care reviewed Peggy's case. The company said insurance requires a doctor to verify illness at the time of cancelation to prove a claim is valid. However, Peggy supplied more documents showing she was ill and missed work the day she canceled, so Berkely Care reversed the decision and paid the claim after all and days later the couple received two checks for $2,399 each.

"I felt very victorious and very pleased that channel 7 On Your Side was definitely on my side," Peggy said.

We would like to thank Berkely Care Insurance for working with us. The lesson here is get a copy of your travel insurance policy and follow the rules.

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