Global Travel Shield refuses to reimburse ill traveler

Tracy Stewart, May 19, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. My sister and I purchased a round trip ticket from Boston to Seattle on Alaska Air for our elderly mother and also purchased trip cancellation insurance through Global Travel Shield. Since her arrival on the West Coast, it became clearly evident that her health had severely declined and it was no longer feasible for her to live on her own in Massachusetts. To that end, she never used the return portion of the ticket and we applied to the insurance company for a refund of the unused portion of the airfare.

    Ultimately, the insurance company denied our claim for a partial refund, citing the sole reason for denial was that it was a round trip airfare.....duh!!?? They advised they could not refund one-half of a fare, in that they could not assign a dollar value to it. We contacted Alaska, who verbally advised us of the appropriate amount for the half-fare, but they were unwilling to put it in writing, which is what the insurance company would require to process the claim.

    Do we have any recourse in this "Catch 22" matter?

    A. Every Alaska fare is sold as a one-way for exactly 1/2 the RT purchase. That's their policy. I understand that on some airlines, low fares are sold as RT only, so indeed you couldn't have bought certain fares as one-ways for 1/2 the RT price. But on Alaska you can, each and every fare. I would go back to your insurance agency and tell them to stop trying to wiggle out of this or you will take them to small claims court. At least make a pest of yourself. Does it say anywhere in their contract that they exclude this sort of thing? I would also write a letter to your state's insurance commissioner.