Travel Guard claim promptly paid

By Wanda Bahde
This item appears on page 32 of the October 2018 issue.

My husband and I were ready to take the "Morocco Sahara Odyssey" with Overseas Adventure Travel, or OAT (Boston, MA; 800/955-1925,, but a week before our departure on April 22, 2018, my husband had to cancel for health reasons.

Thanks to Philip Wagenaar's article in his February 2017 "The Discerning Traveler" column, our travel insurance claim was closed within a couple weeks. We had purchased the Gold plan offered by AIG Travel Guard (800/826-4919,, which was one of several travel insurance companies' primary-payer plans that Dr. Wagenaar named.

In addition, he offered the following advice:

1. "Never buy travel insurance from a tour operator or cruise line that handles the tour…"

This was good advice in our case because Travel Guard was able to close the claim as a cash transaction. Had we purchased insurance through OAT, we would have received cash back if canceling for a medical or covered reason, but if we had canceled for any noncovered reason (including changing our minds), we would have simply received a voucher to use for a different OAT trip or a later departure of the same tour.

The cost of the trip protection offered by Travel Guard Gold ($957) was comparable to that of the tour operator ($998).

2. "Always buy a primary-payer policy."

Travel Guard Gold covered all of our incurred expenses up front. This means that, should an accident for which we were covered occur during travel, Travel Guard would not first challenge other insurance sources to determine their liability for expenses.

3. "Ensure that you are covered for preexisting [medical] conditions."

We bought travel insurance within two days of making the down payment on our trip to ensure inclusion of the preexisting-condition waiver, per Travel Guard guidelines. (We signed up for the tour and made our down payment on Nov. 18, 2018.)

4. "To buy your insurance, I recommend…"

Rather than taking Dr. Wagenaar's advice and researching various travel insurance policies, ourselves, we called the travel-insurance broker Dan Drennen of Travel Insurance Center (Omaha, NE; 866/979-6753,, who has received high reviews from other ITN contributors.

Filing the claim was easier than anticipated. Travel Guard needed copies of our air travel confirmation code and tickets, receipts for all expenses and refunds, and (even though we had a preexisting-condition waiver) a medical certificate completed by a doctor.

Travel Guard's claim form required a reason for cancellation (illness, injury, death or nonmedical). Our reason was illness, and I included a copy of an additional message from the doctor encouraging us to cancel our trip in order to expedite hyperbaric oxygen therapy for my husband.

We submitted to Travel Guard the final OAT statement showing the base tour cost minus our discounts. We had paid in full, but because we canceled the trip so late, the penalty for canceling the tour was the entire amount.

Also, I had purchased seat upgrades through Air France (for which I had a receipt) and Delta Air Lines (for which I did not have a receipt). Travel Guard accepted my Mastercard statement as verification for all charges and dates.

Within two weeks of mailing the claim documents to Travel Guard, we received a check covering our OAT tour payment as well as the cost of our Air France and Delta seat upgrades for both my husband and me.

Of course, our insurance claim was simple compared to those facing major issues during travel. However, thanks to Dr. Wagenaar's recommendations and Mr. Drennen's assistance, we were properly insured and our claim was promptly resolved.

As for my husband, doctors recently approved our booking a European river cruise for May 2019, as long as we have trip insurance, don't overdo it and carry full medical records with us.


Summerfield, FL