Travel Agency neglected to take out insurance and cost us $10,000.

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Feb 17, 2017
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#1
We have been using Altour American Express for our travel needs for a number of years, and they have been OK to work with. They always use Travel Guard Gold plan, and we pay a lot of $ for it...in December, 2016, we took an Oceania South America cruise. We needed to tender to Parati Brazil, on a shore excursion with Oceania, which is a port from the 1600's...broken cement steps and gaps on the dock. My right foot got caught in one of the gaps, and I fell on my back. After waiting 1 hour for an ambulance, we were taken to the local hospital. I had a fracture in my right foot and a fracture in a vertebrae in my spine. We DID have the insurance on this trip, and they flew us home 5 days into the 30 day cruise. Upon arriving home, my orthopedic surgeons taking care of me advised 4 to 6 months to heal, and to cancel all trips that would require exertion on my part. I spoke with Altour about this. We had 2 major trips planned. The first was in January, 2017, to fly from NY to LA, then LA to Hawaii, then NCL cruise around the Hawaiian islands, back to LA, then home to NY. The second was a 16 day Oceania cruise, in March, 2017, where we would need to fly to Lima Peru and had ports in difficult cities to navigate. My travel agent neglected to let me know that, even though I had given them all the information they needed to take out the Travel Guard Gold plan months in advance, they did not. They said they were waiting to complete items on "their end"...but going forward, they would "handle it differently" and take out the insurance as we paid in full for the cruises and airfare and add along the way transfers or tours. This is where we now stand:
NCL has refused to refund any additional amount due us for the January 28, 2017 cruise, although it was cancelled mid December.
Oceania kept 25% of the full payment for the March 29, 2017 cruise.
LAN Chile did say we could use the amount of the tickets in a year, but we don't plan on traveling to South America again, since my injuries are so severe.
I am now holding Altour responsible for refunding our money, or working with the 3 listed to assist.
Altour has said they are trying, but I have been hearing that for a very long time.
Next step?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,170
1,944
113
#2
Oh, man.......there will be other advocates here soon that can offer you some advice and suggestions but I wanted to express my sorrow for you. I hope you are on the way to a rapid and full recovery. What a huge disappointment to miss not only your first cruise but the two additional trips.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,668
11,257
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#3
Do you have anything in writing that you authorized them to charge you for the insurance? Don't they purchase your insurance right away to make sure you are covered for pre-ex conditions? What is their usual process when you book?

At this point you need to pressure them to refund you for their error or take them to court because you have a good case if you told them to buy the insurance and they did not.

I would advise you to push them and there are a few ways you can do this:

-here are three of the executives at Altour, write to them one at a time leaving a week in between each contact.

Lisa Hoen is VP of CorporateSales : lisa.hoehn@altour.com
Alan Busse is SVP of Corporate Relations
mailto:abusse@tta.com
Alexandre Chemla is the President:alexandre.chemla@altour.com

I would start with Lisa and give her a week to reply, then move to Alan Busse and Chemla last if you have to go that far.

Give them a chance to fix it.

If you don't received a refund:

file a complaint with Asta.org. Call ASTA at : 1.800.ASK.ASTA or 1.800.275.2782 and ask how to file s complaint about one of their members.

- you can file a complaint with your state Attorney General.

Let us know what happens and good luck.
 
Jan 8, 2015
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#4
We DID have the insurance on this trip, and they flew us home 5 days into the 30 day cruise.

My travel agent neglected to let me know that, even though I had given them all the information they needed to take out the Travel Guard Gold plan months in advance, they did not. They said they were waiting to complete items on "their end"...but going forward, they would "handle it differently" and take out the insurance as we paid in full for the cruises and airfare and add along the way transfers or tours.
If you have any of this (them claiming they were waiting and would do things differently going forward) in an email or in writing or even a voice mail, this will give you all the leverage you need. It shows that they knew you intended to purchase the coverage and their acts are what caused you to lose your deposits.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
5,909
5,995
113
San Francisco
#5
Oh, Emma, I am so very sorry to read your post. Your accident must have been horrendous, so much pain and angst and disappointment to not be able to continue your cruise. I'm glad to read that you got home safe and sound.

Here's what I think you're saying: As a result of the South America accident, you have to cancel your next two trips. All your travel is booked through Altour and you have always purchased travel insurance. Altour did not purchase travel insurance for you on the two 2017 trips, and you were unaware of that omission. Based on your long relationship with them, you trusted them to take care of your travel needs. You now have cancellation expenses that need to be covered. Is this correct?

If I am understanding you, I think that Altour is in a heap of trouble here. They are responsible for all the expenses that travel insurance would pay had they followed your instructions. It would seem to me that all you have to do is prove that you understood that you booked both trips as always. I would not talk with them any longer, but put everything in writing. I would have the demeanor that you are trusting them as your travel advisor and are confident that this will all get worked out in a businesslike way.

Compose a polite, concise email, just a simple statement of facts. List all the cancellation expenses for each trip. Tell them that you would like compensation for your losses, and give them a deadline. Keep everything as simple as possible, your request will no doubt be read by many different management layers at Altour, as well as their Errors & Omissions insurer. You want each executive to grasp what happened on the first read-through. If you want to post your email here before submitting it, we will be happy to have a look.

I suggest that you start with the agent you worked with, with a copy to the manager of the office. Unless there is stress between you already, you are counting on them to take care of you, so I wouldn't escalate this immediately. If you have no response in a week, use Neil's details above to submit to each exec, waiting a week between each submission. Good luck and please keep up updated.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Director
Jan 22, 2017
319
491
63
Poole
#6
If you have any of this (them claiming they were waiting and would do things differently going forward) in an email or in writing or even a voice mail, this will give you all the leverage you need. It shows that they knew you intended to purchase the coverage and their acts are what caused you to lose your deposits.
Hi Emma - Good advice from Mike. If you do not have anything in writing or a voice mail. Then make a note of everything you can remember; who told you what and when. Then sign and date it with the date you make the note. Whilst not as good as an email etc it is a close as you can get to a contemporaneous note and shows what you remember whilst it is fresh rather than later on.
 
Likes: jsn55
Feb 17, 2017
10
6
3
68
#7
Oh, man.......there will be other advocates here soon that can offer you some advice and suggestions but I wanted to express my sorrow for you. I hope you are on the way to a rapid and full recovery. What a huge disappointment to miss not only your first cruise but the two additional trips.
Thank you for your post...
 
Feb 17, 2017
10
6
3
68
#8
Do you have anything in writing that you authorized them to charge you for the insurance? Don't they purchase your insurance right away to make sure you are covered for pre-ex conditions? What is their usual process when you book?

At this point you need to pressure them to refund you for their error or take them to court because you have a good case if you told them to buy the insurance and they did not.

I would advise you to push them and there are a few ways you can do this:

-here are three of the executives at Altour, write to them one at a time leaving a week in between each contact.

Lisa Hoen is VP of CorporateSales : lisa.hoehn@altour.com
Alan Busse is SVP of Corporate Relations
mailto:abusse@tta.com
Alexandre Chemla is the President:alexandre.chemla@altour.com

I would start with Lisa and give her a week to reply, then move to Alan Busse and Chemla last if you have to go that far.

Give them a chance to fix it.

If you don't received a refund:

file a complaint with Asta.org. Call ASTA at : 1.800.ASK.ASTA or 1.800.275.2782 and ask how to file s complaint about one of their members.

- you can file a complaint with your state Attorney General.

Let us know what happens and good luck.
I do have emails back and forth. I will use your contacts. Appreciate your reply.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Feb 17, 2017
10
6
3
68
#9
Oh, Emma, I am so very sorry to read your post. Your accident must have been horrendous, so much pain and angst and disappointment to not be able to continue your cruise. I'm glad to read that you got home safe and sound.

Here's what I think you're saying: As a result of the South America accident, you have to cancel your next two trips. All your travel is booked through Altour and you have always purchased travel insurance. Altour did not purchase travel insurance for you on the two 2017 trips, and you were unaware of that omission. Based on your long relationship with them, you trusted them to take care of your travel needs. You now have cancellation expenses that need to be covered. Is this correct?

If I am understanding you, I think that Altour is in a heap of trouble here. They are responsible for all the expenses that travel insurance would pay had they followed your instructions. It would seem to me that all you have to do is prove that you understood that you booked both trips as always. I would not talk with them any longer, but put everything in writing. I would have the demeanor that you are trusting them as your travel advisor and are confident that this will all get worked out in a businesslike way.

Compose a polite, concise email, just a simple statement of facts. List all the cancellation expenses for each trip. Tell them that you would like compensation for your losses, and give them a deadline. Keep everything as simple as possible, your request will no doubt be read by many different management layers at Altour, as well as their Errors & Omissions insurer. You want each executive to grasp what happened on the first read-through. If you want to post your email here before submitting it, we will be happy to have a look.

I suggest that you start with the agent you worked with, with a copy to the manager of the office. Unless there is stress between you already, you are counting on them to take care of you, so I wouldn't escalate this immediately. If you have no response in a week, use Neil's details above to submit to each exec, waiting a week between each submission. Good luck and please keep up updated.
I have already sent a simple email, stating the facts. I did give them a time frame, which has passed with no reply. Time for me to use the contacts Neil has given to me. Appreciate you taking the time to post.
 
Apr 3, 2016
51
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#10
One thing to consider is if you are willing to take a credit for the travel agent (rather than cash). If you plan to use them in the future, this might be an option to present to them. It will allow them to not reimburse the funds immediately. They may be more receptive to a credit rather than a cash payout.
 
Feb 17, 2017
10
6
3
68
#11
One thing to consider is if you are willing to take a credit for the travel agent (rather than cash). If you plan to use them in the future, this might be an option to present to them. It will allow them to not reimburse the funds immediately. They may be more receptive to a credit rather than a cash payout.
Thank you, I will consider this if offered.
 
#12
One thing to consider is if you are willing to take a credit for the travel agent (rather than cash). If you plan to use them in the future, this might be an option to present to them. It will allow them to not reimburse the funds immediately. They may be more receptive to a credit rather than a cash payout.
Just be sure to get the agreement in writing and maybe have a lawyer take a quick look at it.
 
Feb 17, 2017
10
6
3
68
#14
Asta will contact them too since they are members. This is a reliable travel agency that has a good reputation in the business but this is an egregious error on the agents part.
Thank you, Neil. I will contact Asta should I not get a favorable response from Altour. I have already contacted Lisa Hoehn as per your recommendation.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
711
1,201
93
44
#16
Since this is a travel insurance issue, this isn't a TA but a failure of an Insurance Agent to write a policy (Almost every state requires a business and/or individual license to sell travel insurance). Reach out to the insurance commissioner (or like state office) in your state and file a complaint. You'll need proof that you told them to purchase the policy and they received that request.

Good Luck
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,668
11,257
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
It is a TA failure since they are the agents for insurance but you can file a complaint especially since Altour is based in NY and we must have licenses to sell insurance in NY. They could pull their license to sell insurance.

I would use that in a letter if you are refused compensation.
 
#18
Since this is a travel insurance issue, this isn't a TA but a failure of an Insurance Agent to write a policy (Almost every state requires a business and/or individual license to sell travel insurance). Reach out to the insurance commissioner (or like state office) in your state and file a complaint. You'll need proof that you told them to purchase the policy and they received that request.

Good Luck
If the Travel Agent had been instructed to buy the insurance (or had a standing agreement to do so upon the booking of each of our Letter Writer's many trips) and then neglected to do so, how does this become a problem of an Insurance Agent, with whom an order was never placed?

EDIT: Well, Neil beat me to the punch and explained the situation. The TA is also the IA. Thanks.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,668
11,257
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#19
It's the responsibility of the agent regardless of whether they are the TA or the insurance agent. They were negligent by not buying the insurance when told to.

The only issue that could come up is if the history with the letter writer was that they did not buy insurance at deposit but consistently waited until final payment was due. We have a few clients that do that, they say but it but at final payment. That doesn't seem to be the case here.
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,896
113
New York
#20
I recently tore my ACL on vacation am learning more about ligaments, bones, etc A 4-6 month recovery sounds long, especially to prohibit cruising, where you can continue any physical therapy onboard. I would get a second opinion. I'm sorry about your accident and wish you a speedy recovery.