High School Trip to the Bahamas through Breakaway Beach

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Mar 23, 2021
4
0
18
My 17 year old daughter is a senior in high school. Back in December of 2019, she signed up for a senior trip to the Bahamas that is supposed to occur in June of 2021. The trip is not run through the school. We purchased the highest insurance policy they offered through John Hancock. The "Gold Policy".
In February 2021, I emailed Breakaway Tours telling them that she no longer feels comfortable traveling to the Bahamas due to covid. The Bahamas is listed by the CDC as a "level 3" out of 4 for high covid. They also require a negative covid test to be done in the Bahamas for them to get on the plane to return to the US.
I was told by Breakaway tours that they will not give her a refund. She paid $1600. They say that the insurance policy we purchased will only refund for specific reasons including sickness, injury, death etc. They state that we did not purchase the additional "cancel for any reason" rider. I do not remember that rider being offered, nor do the parents of other students who signed on for the trip. They lead you to believe that you will be covered if you cancel by paying the additional $96 for the insurance.
At this point I have exchanged several emails with Breakaway Tours. It is almost impossible to speak to someone from this company. I have requested a supervisor or manager call me back, but to this date I have not spoken to any manager nor have I received the info from the John Hancock insurance policy that they promised to send to process the claim.
It seems unreasonable that they would take $1600 from a teenager for a trip that was 4 months away when I first emailed them about canceling. No services have been rendered. When she signed up for the trip there was no pandemic. The payments were automatically deducted from a debit card. She had hoped by now the situation would have improved enough for her to feel comfortable but unfortunately that hasn't happened. She does not feel comfortable traveling to the Bahamas currently.
I was wondering if you have any insight or suggestions that could assist with this situation.
Thank you
 
Mar 23, 2021
4
0
18
They are correct. Unless you bought a Cancel for any Reason policy, most insurance only covers if you develop Covid and can’t travel.

The reason you are canceling is fear of Covid and that’s not covered.

We have a story about this:

one of the reasons listed for refund is "natural disaster". Some courts have ruled that the pandemic is a natural disaster. Specifically NY
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,852
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
one of the reasons listed for refund is "natural disaster". Some courts have ruled that the pandemic is a natural disaster. Specifically NY
A natural disaster is an earthquake or hurricane- these are usually a named peril. A pandemic is often considered an Act of God, which isn’t covered ( or force majeure).

Please read the article I posted- it explains.

If you are in a state citing the laws you are referring to, you can file a complaint with your State Insurance Dept. or file a small claims case against the insurer.

Did you book this trip through a travel advisor or directly with the tour company ? Did they give you a form to sign off on to purchase the insurance? That firm should have given you options or advised you to call the insurance company with questions.

Do you have the original terms and conditions from Breakaway Tours we can read? If you can post it we can review it. Just make sure there is no personal identifying information .

Is the trip still on and your daughter is just not comfortable traveling?
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Forum Director
Apr 13, 2016
1,065
2,304
St. Louis
My 17 year old daughter is a senior in high school. Back in December of 2019, she signed up for a senior trip to the Bahamas that is supposed to occur in June of 2021. The trip is not run through the school. We purchased the highest insurance policy they offered through John Hancock. The "Gold Policy".
In February 2021, I emailed Breakaway Tours telling them that she no longer feels comfortable traveling to the Bahamas due to covid. The Bahamas is listed by the CDC as a "level 3" out of 4 for high covid. They also require a negative covid test to be done in the Bahamas for them to get on the plane to return to the US.
I was told by Breakaway tours that they will not give her a refund. She paid $1600. They say that the insurance policy we purchased will only refund for specific reasons including sickness, injury, death etc. They state that we did not purchase the additional "cancel for any reason" rider. I do not remember that rider being offered, nor do the parents of other students who signed on for the trip. They lead you to believe that you will be covered if you cancel by paying the additional $96 for the insurance.
At this point I have exchanged several emails with Breakaway Tours. It is almost impossible to speak to someone from this company. I have requested a supervisor or manager call me back, but to this date I have not spoken to any manager nor have I received the info from the John Hancock insurance policy that they promised to send to process the claim.
It seems unreasonable that they would take $1600 from a teenager for a trip that was 4 months away when I first emailed them about canceling. No services have been rendered. When she signed up for the trip there was no pandemic. The payments were automatically deducted from a debit card. She had hoped by now the situation would have improved enough for her to feel comfortable but unfortunately that hasn't happened. She does not feel comfortable traveling to the Bahamas currently.
I was wondering if you have any insight or suggestions that could assist with this situation.
Thank you
Unfortunately, if your daughter cancels the trip, then the cancellation terms of the booking would apply. If the travel company cancels, then you may have grounds for a refund or a credit depending on the terms and agreements. Some travel companies have provided an extenuating circumstances policy to provide refunds or credits outside the cancellation terms of the booking, but since this is an exception, it is at the discretion of the company.

Insurance policies are legal documents, and the insurance industry is regulated by the individual States. Insurance companies have written most policies to exclude mass events like pandemics, usually by providing "named-peril" type policies that provide a listing of specific events that are covered, and/or providing specific exclusions in the policy. Also, policies will normally provide a section that will define various terms such as "Natural Disaster". The ruling you linked to doesn't have to do with insurance but may affect some cases in New York, especially business interruption insurance which is a different type of insurance than travel insurance.

At this point, if your daughter is not going to take the trip, you can try to negotiate an exception to the cancellation terms of the booking, such as a future credit, but keep in mind, depending on the cancellation policy, this would likely be a goodwill gesture on the part of the company. Otherwise, you can file a claim with the insurance if they deny the claim, you can file an appeal in accordance with the policy. If it is denied again, your next step would be to file a complaint with your State's Department of Insurance which regulates the industry. If you are still not successful at that point, you would likely need to consult with an attorney who can review the policy and advise you as to your legal options if any.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,062
6,486
the United States
Their associated policy can be found at this link: Gold Plan

This page is displayed by Breakaway Beach when you are choosing insurance and select "View Plans"

Near the very top of the page is this link: "John Hancock Insurance Agency, Inc. has provided the following Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Insurance FAQs for information about coverage"

Clicking on that link provides this information:
I want to cancel my travel plans because I'm afraid to travel due to the Coronavirus. Am I covered?
Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic or pandemic, including Coronavirus, is not covered, as a general matter. It is recommended to contact your travel providers (tour operators, airlines, or hotels) as many may offer refunds or opportunities to reschedule reservations.​
Generally speaking, it is the traveler's responsibility to review the terms and conditions before any purchase
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
3,400
5,450
Maui Hawaii
Their associated policy can be found at this link: Gold Plan

This page is displayed by Breakaway Beach when you are choosing insurance and select "View Plans"

Near the very top of the page is this link: "John Hancock Insurance Agency, Inc. has provided the following Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Insurance FAQs for information about coverage"

Clicking on that link provides this information:
I want to cancel my travel plans because I'm afraid to travel due to the Coronavirus. Am I covered?
Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with sickness, epidemic or pandemic, including Coronavirus, is not covered, as a general matter. It is recommended to contact your travel providers (tour operators, airlines, or hotels) as many may offer refunds or opportunities to reschedule reservations.​
Generally speaking, it is the traveler's responsibility to review the terms and conditions before any purchase
The trip was booked in Dec 2019. The above insurance terms including Covid-19 are not what the OP would have seen when booking. Whether there was a "cancel for any reason" option offered at the time of booking in 2019 is unclear.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,062
6,486
the United States
The trip was booked in Dec 2019. The above insurance terms including Covid-19 are not what the OP would have seen when booking. Whether there was a "cancel for any reason" option offered at the time of booking in 2019 is unclear.
True weihlac, but at the point of cancellation is was in effect
 
Feb 21, 2018
283
833
59
I ran through a pro-forma request for quote, citing a trip to the Bahamas for a week at a total cost of $1600 on the John Hancock site and indeed, the Gold Plan comes up at $94, just two dollars shy of what the OP indicates she paid. There is an option to purchase Cancel for Any Reason coverage at an additional 50% premium...so the OP would have had to either (a) question if that option was available from the travel provider or (b) actually select that option if purchasing the policy separately, and the premium would have been an additional $48.

To the OP - unfortunately the nuances of travel insurance are vast, and while we like to think that a policy protects us from anything, it doesn't. The devil is in the details and based on what I see you may have the Gold Policy, but not the ability to cancel for any reason. You would be bound by whatever cancellation terms are contained within the policy.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
3,400
5,450
Maui Hawaii
My 17 year old daughter is a senior in high school. Back in December of 2019, she signed up for a senior trip to the Bahamas that is supposed to occur in June of 2021. The trip is not run through the school. We purchased the highest insurance policy they offered through John Hancock. The "Gold Policy".
In February 2021, I emailed Breakaway Tours telling them that she no longer feels comfortable traveling to the Bahamas due to covid. The Bahamas is listed by the CDC as a "level 3" out of 4 for high covid. They also require a negative covid test to be done in the Bahamas for them to get on the plane to return to the US.
I was told by Breakaway tours that they will not give her a refund. She paid $1600. They say that the insurance policy we purchased will only refund for specific reasons including sickness, injury, death etc. They state that we did not purchase the additional "cancel for any reason" rider. I do not remember that rider being offered, nor do the parents of other students who signed on for the trip. They lead you to believe that you will be covered if you cancel by paying the additional $96 for the insurance.
At this point I have exchanged several emails with Breakaway Tours. It is almost impossible to speak to someone from this company. I have requested a supervisor or manager call me back, but to this date I have not spoken to any manager nor have I received the info from the John Hancock insurance policy that they promised to send to process the claim.
It seems unreasonable that they would take $1600 from a teenager for a trip that was 4 months away when I first emailed them about canceling. No services have been rendered. When she signed up for the trip there was no pandemic. The payments were automatically deducted from a debit card. She had hoped by now the situation would have improved enough for her to feel comfortable but unfortunately that hasn't happened. She does not feel comfortable traveling to the Bahamas currently.
I was wondering if you have any insight or suggestions that could assist with this situation.
Thank you
If you have not canceled the trip, DO NOT cancel now. Wait until the week prior to the trip before deciding on a course of action, as several things may change between now and then: 1) the trip may be canceled by the tour operator, leading to a full refund or full credit for future use. 2) the tour operator may offer more flexible terms. 3) the status of Covid-19 in the US and the Bahamas may be better than it is currently, changing the risk dynamics of travel. 4) and other changes not foreseeable at present.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
2,064
4,226
I agree with @weihlac suggestion, I would wait to decide about canceling. Who knows? Maybe your daughter will have a change of heart and want to go. The fact that the CDC has a level 3 for the Bahamas today means nothing for June.

Also note for future travel, CFAR (cancel for any reason) does not reimburse 100% of travel expenses. Some pay out 75%, others only 50%. In addition, if a vendor offers a credit for future travel, most likely the policy will not reimburse you for the cost of the vendor until the credit expires.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,852
28,968
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I ran through a pro-forma request for quote, citing a trip to the Bahamas for a week at a total cost of $1600 on the John Hancock site and indeed, the Gold Plan comes up at $94, just two dollars shy of what the OP indicates she paid. There is an option to purchase Cancel for Any Reason coverage at an additional 50% premium...so the OP would have had to either (a) question if that option was available from the travel provider or (b) actually select that option if purchasing the policy separately, and the premium would have been an additional $48.

To the OP - unfortunately the nuances of travel insurance are vast, and while we like to think that a policy protects us from anything, it doesn't. The devil is in the details and based on what I see you may have the Gold Policy, but not the ability to cancel for any reason. You would be bound by whatever cancellation terms are contained within the policy.
I also did a mock booking and you are absolutely correct - there is an option on the left hand side of the page to add CFAR - which only reimburses 70% anyway.

Here are the terms of the policy and there are many covered reasons to cancel but a pandemic is not among them.
 
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