Common Reasons Insurance Claims are Denied

Unfortunately, many travelers find themselves in financial difficulties because they did not purchase travel insurance. There is great wisdom in purchasing travel insurance, but sometimes, even though they did buy insurance, travelers unwittingly negate their insurance benefits or misunderstand what is covered. Below are some common reasons travel insurance claims are denied.

Be aware that it typically takes 30 days from reporting a claim for a final decision to be rendered by the claims adjuster.

Are you sure your policy covered you for this kind of claim?

We’re all aware of the importance of reading the fine print of contracts. But, too often, travelers don’t read their insurance plan completely. Only after a claim is denied or delayed do they realize they haven’t followed the agreement they purchased.

Travel insurance can certainly be confusing. And every policy is worded differently. Travel Insurance Claims 101 says, “check your terms and conditions.” There’s a reason behind the insurance rules, and you have to follow them.

For example, too many policyholders believe even the slightest flight delay qualifies them for a claim, when typically, a delay needs to be for three hours or more.

Another common misconception is trip cancellation due to a storm. During last year’s terrible hurricane season, insurance companies saw a large spike in claims for canceled or delayed vacations. What many vacationers found out was they weren’t covered because they waited too long to purchase their policy, or the storm’s impact wasn’t sufficient enough for a trip to be canceled.

Additionally, a cruise company or airline has to cease service due to weather for most basic coverage to be activated. The flight has to have been grounded, or your resort badly damaged. Simply being afraid to visit a destination hit by a storm, when your travel suppliers haven’t been damaged, could delay or deny your claim.

If you are really worried about hurricanes, ask for the most hurricane related coverage your provider offers, which might be ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage.

Travelers should review their policy with a licensed travel insurance expert prior to purchase and make certain they know everything about their covered perils and exclusions.

What was diagnosed by a professional, and when did you report that to the insurance company?

You may feel sick, and know you have to fly, but you don’t go to the doctor. So now you don’t have proof of your physical condition, but you’re asking an insurance company to believe you. Insurance companies need proof. Without notes from your doctor, you’re probably going to have a problem getting your claim approved.

If you are feeling sick, feeling concerned not to go on trip, call in advance to get some guidance before making a decision and starting a claim process.

Do you have all of your paperwork, and did you file the right claim form?

It’s easy to lose receipts and printouts from doctors, hospitals and others that might have been involved in an event. But the more you follow your travel insurance company’s process, the less likely you will experience a delay, or be denied.

It’s also critical that you follow your insurer’s documentation requirements for things like lost and delayed luggage.

When did you seek medical treatment?

Just because you got sick while traveling, doesn’t mean you have documentation to prove it. Seeking treatment prior to returning home and saving all medical documentation is critical to proving both your expense, and the fact that an event occurred.

Definitely get documentation during the trip, and if you forget, seek additional treatment upon return. Anything you do to get an independent, qualified party to document your case will be of assistance to you during your claim.

Was your condition pre-existing?

Pre-existing conditions are a common tripwire for claim delays and denials. Travelers should request a plan that includes a pre-existing medical conditions waiver if this could be an issue. Often purchasing a policy within a certain amount of time (usually 14-21 days) after the first payment of the trip provides coverage for pre-existing conditions. (NOTE: the traveler should verify the accuracy of this information as it relates to the specific policy they are considering.)

Important steps to take:

*Gather all paperwork and documentation in advance and obtain any claims-related medical documents and/or police reports prior to returning home.

*Understand your travel insurance policy language prior to departure.

*Buy travel insurance as early as possible to increase your eligibility for time-sensitive benefits and to ensure your trip cost is accurate.

*Expect claim processing delays following major travel events, like hurricanes.

If you need insurance for your next trip, click here for a variety of coverage options.

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Visiting Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity?

The star marks the traditional location of Jesus’ birth in the basement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com/Todd Bolen

Over the last several years, the number of visitors at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem have grown to unmanageable sizes. This growth has caused many visitors to the church to leave before actually getting to visit the basement, the most desired destination in the church.

As a result of the growing numbers of disappointed travelers, The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism is developing a reservation app that is supposed to help reduce the wait time at the church.

For a more complete report on this development, see this article.

Are You a Windsurfer?

Are you a windsurfer? Interested in learning to windsurf? Let Discipleship Travel LLC arrange a windsurfing package for you in New Caledonia.

Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific. It is not only a nature lover’s paradise but also for watersports enthusiasts.

Windsurfing is one of the of the most popular sports in Nouméa, the French Territory’s capital. In fact, an international windsurfing competition called the Nouméa Dream Cup has been organized, attracting participants from across the globe.


Going to South Africa?

AMENDED GUIDELINES SIMPLIFY FAMILY TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA

These regulations are easing family travel and allowing the diverse natural scenery and wildlife of the country to be explored by children of all ages and their parents. The variety of sites and events in the country are ideal for multi-generational travel and now the whole family can easily visit! Witness the big 5 on a safari and experience the infamous penguins on Boulder Beach. Round out your trip with scenic hikes and tours through the varying city scapes and discover the history of the country and celebrate the influence of Nelson Mandela.

South Africa is becoming more accessible for traveling families through updated regulations. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced on December 1st, 2018 that they are relaxing some of the regulations for children traveling to South Africa. The announcement comes at a pivotal point for family travel as the Festive Season, a time when many families travel with their children, is fast approaching.

Amended Guidelines for US & CAN Child Travelers to South Africa

As visas are not required for US & CAN travelers visiting for less than 90 days, generally, children (under 18) travelling with both parents will experience no additional questioning and will not be requested to provide any additional documents, over and above a valid passport.

However, if it may appear that you are not the parents of the child for any reason, such as different surnames, same sex marriages, significant age differences, or different nationalities, documentation may be requested. It is suggested that you consider carrying a birth certificate which features the details of the parent or parents, or other documentation that might assist to prove the parental relationship such as a marriage certificate, adoption certificate etc.

If only one parent is travelling with a child, or a child is travelling with another adult (or adults) who is/are not the child’s parent, you may be asked a few questions to establish your relationship with the child, the reason the child is travelling with you and/or the reason the other parent is not travelling with you.

Such travelers are strongly advised to carry evidence of their relationship with the child and/or the reason why they are travelling with the child, and evidence of consent to travel with the child from the absent parent or parents, together with their identification and contact details. However, should officials ask for documents you are not carrying with you, you will be given some time after arrival to source the relevant documentation requested.

This additional documentation could include:
* A copy of a birth certificate of the child with the parent or parents’ details;

*Written consent (which need not be an affidavit or notarized) from the absent parent or parents, or legal guardian of the child, authorizing the child to travel to the Republic with the adult he or she is travelling with;

*Copy of the passport of the parent or parents or legal guardian of the child;

*The contact details of the parent or parents, or legal guardian, of the child;

*Where applicable, copy of an adoption order;

*Where applicable, a copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the sole parent or legal guardian of the child;

*Where applicable, a copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent or parents of the child.

For more details visit the Department of Home Affairs website here.
For more information on South Africa’s rich and diverse offerings visit www.southafrica.net, follow @SouthAfrica on Twitter and @VisitSouthAfrica on Instagram and Facebook.

Marriott Data Breach: What Should You Do?

Last week, one of the largest hotel chains in the world, Marriott International, Inc., announced that a massive data breach of its Starwood reservation system exposed the personal information of up to 500 million guests. Those who stayed at the chain’s Starwood brand hotels from 2014 through September 10, 2018 are affected. That’s four long years of data theft before the hackers were detected.

This is the fourth massive U.S. data breach since 2013, including Yahoo (3 billion accounts), Equifax (147 million consumers) and Target (40 million customers). The Marriott break-in not only exposed names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and credit card information, but rarer data too, including birth dates, gender and passport information from international guests.

While its credit card information was encrypted, Marriott indicated it’s possible that the hackers were able to steal the encryption keys, rendering the credit card data encryption worthless.

What’s Marriott doing for its guests?

Marriott has already set up an information page for the Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident. On the page they briefly explain the breach’s timeline and what data is involved. Marriott stated that among other actions, it’s working to quickly phase out the old Starwood reservation system. Marriott indicated that they started sending notification emails to affected guests last week. It will take a while to notify everyone. If you’re affected, Marriott has established a dedicated call center and they’ve arranged for affected guests to be able to enroll in Kroll’s Web Watcher fraud monitoring. It’s free for one year, but only available to customers in the U.S. Canada and the U.K.

What should Marriott customers affected by the breach do for themselves?

Check that any notification email received from Marriott is legitimate: With a breach this large there’s little doubt that malicious hackers will try to scam Marriott customers with phishing and other fraudulent schemes to harvest their personal information. Marriott’s email notification won’t contain attachments or requests for any information. Its links will solely bring affected guests to the Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident page.

Sign up for Web Watcher: There’s no reason not to sign up for the free year of Web Watcher fraud monitoring, if it’s offered in your country of residence. Click on your country on the right side of the “Security Incident” page to get the “Enroll Now” link.
More from Travelers United: Make airlines liable for airline IT failures

Consider freezing your credit: You can freeze your credit for free. It will prevent anyone from opening a new account, taking out a loan, or obtaining a new credit card in your name. Freezing your credit won’t damage your credit score. You’ve got to freeze your credit at all three credit bureaus for it to be effective, so contact Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you find you need to take out a loan or get a new credit card yourself, you can lift the freeze for a limited time or for a particular entity.

What should every traveler do whether or not they’re affected by the Marriott breach?

Get a password manager: A password manager can create, store and automatically fill in your passwords along with other login information. You can store them for accessing websites, online accounts, etc.

Change your Marriott password: If you have both Marriott and Starwood accounts, it’s time to combine them into one account, then change your password.

Set a strong password and make it at least twelve digits long. According to How Secure Is My Password, using an eight digit password with at least one small and one capital letter, a symbol and a number would take a computer just four weeks to crack. If you just add four extra numbers, twelve digits total, it would take about 3 million years to crack that password.

You should use a different password for every website and account. Since you’re hopefully now using a password manager, that’s easy to accomplish, as is changing your passwords regularly.

Edit your Marriott profile: Put only the required information in your profile. Remove any other information. If your profile is breached, only the information there can be stolen.
Credit and debit cards are optional in Marriott profiles. If you enter a card for your convenience, make it a credit card. They have more consumer protection than debit cards. When you get to your hotel you can pay with almost any card, regardless of your profile.

Monitor your Marriott/SPG account and all financial accounts: You should always monitor all your financial accounts, looking for unauthorized activity and incorrect information.

User Responsibility: While extremely easy to use and convenient, online information storage and transactions make our personal and financial information vulnerable to criminal activities. It’s up to each one of us to take prudent measures to protect our identity and finances to the extent possible. The commonsense approach and actions outlined above for your Marriott account should be applied to all your online accounts for your personal and financial protection.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to be legal advice. The article simply serves as a suggestion of possible actions for those who may have been affected by the Marriott Data Breach.