Q: A friend and I planned a trip to Alaska in June. We both bought the same travel insurance policy from Allianz. It was not the cheapest, but not the most expensive.
After the coronavirus outbreak, my friend received an email that she would be permitted to cancel her policy. She did. I never received an email saying I could cancel. I contacted Allianz by phone. A representative asked me to send an email. I did but received no reply. I tried two more times — nothing. The website said there would be a response within 48 hours, but I gave them extra time due to the pandemic.
I just would like to know why my friend was able to get a refund and I was not. I was even a returning customer and was the one who encouraged her to use this company.
I could have handled them saying that despite thinking we purchased the same policy, we had purchased different ones and mine was nonrefundable. But the lack of response was not only galling but made me question their response if I ever used them again and had to make a claim.
Needless to say, I won’t be using them in the future. It’s their loss since I intend to travel quite a bit in retirement. Can you help me get the $240 back I spent for my Allianz travel insurance policy?
Melissa Hall, Scottsburg, Indiana
A: Allianz should have answered you quickly. Better yet, it should have reached out to you after you canceled your trip and offered either a refund or to reapply your policy to a new trip. Allianz is known for its lightning-fast responses to customers. But during the coronavirus outbreak, every travel insurance company has kept travelers waiting. That happens during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
If you bought the same policy as your friend, shouldn’t the refund terms be identical? Probably. But you might want to take a closer look at the fine print.
Coverage can change based on your age or state of residence. So, it’s possible that her policy was refundable and yours wasn’t. Allianz should have explained that to you when you called instead of asking you to write an email that it ignored.
I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Allianz executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I think a brief, polite email might have moved the process along.
At a time like this, the most useful tool in your customer advocacy arsenal is patience. You had the same policy as your friend, so you could be reasonably sure that you had a refund coming.
Sure enough, after you contacted me — and before I had a chance to ask Allianz about your policy — the company responded to you and refunded your $240.
If you need help with a coronavirus-related refund, please contact me. You can send details through my consumer advocacy site or email me at email@example.com.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Author: Christopher Elliott, King Features Syndicate, Inc.