Many still debate over need for travel insurance

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

A tourist jogs on "Mansa Beach" with a low level of tourists in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Tuesday, Feb.7, 2006.Argentines protesting against the construction of two pulp plants on the Uruguayan side of a border river continued to block traffic at the Fray Bentos bridge. The protesters believe that the pulp plants will emit bad odors and pollute the river and are blocking the interstate leading to the bridge, affecting Uruguay's economy by hurting tourism during the busy summer season. (AP Photo/Marcelo Hernandez)

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by BILL MCGINTY / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on September 28, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 29 at 5:19 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A week at Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks means wide open beaches, cool beverages and watching late summer sunsets.  It’s why Anita Tate and her family rent a house on the island every year, and this year wasn’t going to be any different.

“It’s a blast, a lot of fun, cause we just decompress with family and be silly.  So we enjoy it,” said Tate.

But then came Hurricane Irene, a destructive category 1 storm that tore up the North Carolina coast, especially Hatteras Island. In some areas the roads were wiped out, making the trip out there possible only by ferry, which even still was tough because space was limited to island property owners. 

Booking a house rental in prime hurricane season is a risk, but it was one Anita and her family willingly took every year.  Like every year, the Tate’s bought travel insurance and this year purchased a policy from Travel Guard.

In fact, on page nine of Anita’s policy it clearly states that Anita will be covered for the cost of renting the home if there is “a named hurricane causing cancellation of travel to the Insured’s destination that is inaccessible or uninhabitable.”

No problem, right? Remember, the roads to her destination were heavily damaged because of Hurricane Irene and even Dare County posted restrictions on who could go to the island and when.

While the Tate’s were disappointed they couldn’t go, they were relieved they bought the travel insurance.  But here’s where things get complicated.

The same policy that says they are covered says one sentence later that “…Travel Guard will only pay benefits for losses occurring within 30 calendar days after….” and Anita’s trip hits right at the 30 day mark.

Anita cried foul and began to push back by emailing Surf or Sound Reality and Travel Guard.  But she was told in this e-mail “…Travel Guard has informed us that claims will not be paid for the week of Sept 24th since 30 days would have passed from the issuance of the evacuation order.” 

In plain speak it all means no trip to the Outer Banks and no $1,200 back.  It left Anita and NewsChannel 36 wondering, is travel insurance even worth the investment?

“I think it’s all about who you book with and through, and if you work through an agent you should be able to book through a reputable insurance company,” said Tom Sullivan with AAA Charlotte.
Sullivan also said that AAA definitely recommends getting travel insurance, especially for the bigger, longer and more costly trips like cruises and trips to other countries.

NewsChannel 36 called both Travel Guard and Surf or Sound to investigate why Anita’s claim wouldn’t be covered.  Within hours of a call from NewsChannel 36, Anita got a phone call too from Surf or Sound telling her that her claim would now be covered because an extension was added to the 30 day calendar window.

“They said I should get my refund, that our claim should be approved because the insurance company deemed a second event occurred with the washout of the island,” she said.

Anita expects her $1,200 refund in the mail soon and is already looking forward to booking her trip for 2012, and yes, she will purchase travel insurance.
 

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