Senator demands answers from travel insurance industry

NOW: Senator demands answers from travel insurance industry


(CBS 58/CBS NEWS) -- AAA says nearly 40% of Americans are likely to buy travel insurance for an international flight. A new report from a US Senator is warning that the coverage might not give consumers the protection they were expecting.

Laura Tropiano spent nearly $1,100 on flights to Europe for her and her husband Matt, a Marine who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, to celebrate their second anniversary.

With the trip 10 months away, she bought travel insurance through the airline.

"So about a month after we book the trip, I find out I'm pregnant with my daughter and she's due October 21 and oru return flight is October 19 so naturally you can't travel when you're that pregnant," said Tropiano.

While the insurance covered illness, it didn't cover pregnancy. Her claim was denied.

A review by Senator Ed Markey's office found nearly all major US airlines and online booking sites sell travel insurance typically requiring consumers to click yes or no to purchasing before being allowed to book a trip.

The report found "questionable travel insurance marketing practices for policies that offer minimal coverage and often erect hurdles to the payment of claims."

"Consumers are being tipped upside down, money is shaken out of their pockets, and it's split between the airlines and the insurance companies and it's just plain wrong," said Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts.

Just two companies underwrite all those policies. In a statement, the US Travel Insurance Association said the industry was not contacted by Senator Markey, adding "travel insurance is a valuable product that protects consumers' financial investment."

The group "recommends that travelers fully understand the coverage options they are purchasing to make sure it fits their needs. The purchase of travel insurance is voluntary."

For Laura and Matt, the airline refunded the taxes on their canceled trip but they were out more than $700.

The airline says its trip protection insurance and refund policies are clear and were properly followed but as a courtesy is refunding the remainder of her airfare.

Share this article: