Red Tide, VRBO request for reimbursement

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Nov 2, 2018
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#1
We reserved an ocean-front property in Sebastian, Florida on August 19, 2018 for a one-week stay beginning on Sunday November 4, 2018. We learned about the red tide on October 19, 2018. We contacted the owner to cancel, hoping to re-book for time in December. He stated he would not cancel reservations less than 60 days prior to arrival. He is also unwilling to refund us and was not able to accommodate a December re-booking. The red tide was measured at high levels and the beaches had been closed. This property is directly on the ocean, and we are not able to use the property as it was advertised due to the current red tide outbreak. According to the information that was posted on VRBO, we would be able to fish, swim, ride bicycles on the beach, sit on the front screened-in porch which overlooks the ocean, sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the water, and use the outdoor grill. They describe this property as being able to enjoy the "smell and sound of the ocean waves." During the past two weeks, the county has had to clean thousands of pounds of dead fish off of the beaches in this area!

My husband has upper respiratory issues, so we do not want to risk being exposed to the health-related aspects associated with Red Tide. Also, at that time, the Indian River County Health Department said we should not be on the beach with respiratory issues. This information was conveyed to the property owner and VRBO. We have communicated with the "Executive Customer Service" area of VRBO outlining our concerns and requesting a refund or placement in a property farther north, out of the Red Tide zone. David, the last representative to speak with us two days ago, stated that according to "upper management," there was nothing VRBO could do. He said the reason for not helping us with a refund, or helping us to book another property farther North away from the outbreak was because red tide is a naturally occurring force of nature. As of yesterday, the beaches have opened in that area, however, in speaking with an employee at the office of emergency management today we were told that they are concerned it may be carried back in again. We do not want to take that chance. We had also purchased trip cancellation insurance through CSA. We contacted CSA and were told that cancellation due to Red Tide was not covered by our policy.

We have records of our detailed correspondence between ourselves and the property owner.

We appreciate any assistance or guidance that can be provided. This has been exhausting.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,127
14,727
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
What was the cancellation policy for the rental?
The red tide was already spreading in August when you booked it. It was in the news as well.

Unfortunately it’s not the fault of the owner that there was red tide.if you booked a property with a cancellation policy and the owner is sticking to it- there isn’t much you can do.
 
Likes: brillohead

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,177
1,116
113
Maui Hawaii
#3
We reserved an ocean-front property in Sebastian, Florida on August 19, 2018 for a one-week stay beginning on Sunday November 4, 2018. We learned about the red tide on October 19, 2018. We contacted the owner to cancel, hoping to re-book for time in December. He stated he would not cancel reservations less than 60 days prior to arrival. He is also unwilling to refund us and was not able to accommodate a December re-booking. The red tide was measured at high levels and the beaches had been closed. This property is directly on the ocean, and we are not able to use the property as it was advertised due to the current red tide outbreak. According to the information that was posted on VRBO, we would be able to fish, swim, ride bicycles on the beach, sit on the front screened-in porch which overlooks the ocean, sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the water, and use the outdoor grill. They describe this property as being able to enjoy the "smell and sound of the ocean waves." During the past two weeks, the county has had to clean thousands of pounds of dead fish off of the beaches in this area!

My husband has upper respiratory issues, so we do not want to risk being exposed to the health-related aspects associated with Red Tide. Also, at that time, the Indian River County Health Department said we should not be on the beach with respiratory issues. This information was conveyed to the property owner and VRBO. We have communicated with the "Executive Customer Service" area of VRBO outlining our concerns and requesting a refund or placement in a property farther north, out of the Red Tide zone. David, the last representative to speak with us two days ago, stated that according to "upper management," there was nothing VRBO could do. He said the reason for not helping us with a refund, or helping us to book another property farther North away from the outbreak was because red tide is a naturally occurring force of nature. As of yesterday, the beaches have opened in that area, however, in speaking with an employee at the office of emergency management today we were told that they are concerned it may be carried back in again. We do not want to take that chance. We had also purchased trip cancellation insurance through CSA. We contacted CSA and were told that cancellation due to Red Tide was not covered by our policy.

We have records of our detailed correspondence between ourselves and the property owner.

We appreciate any assistance or guidance that can be provided. This has been exhausting.
Unfortunately, the red tide issue in FL is not a new issue and has been ongoing long before you made your reservations. It is a condition that existed well before you reserved in August and would not be covered by insurance. You needed to do your "due diligence" before booking.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/...-red-tide-wildlife-deaths-marine-life-toxins/

The article is from Nat Geo (not a "news' article), but the national news had been publishing about this issue long before.
 
Nov 2, 2018
3
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1
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#4
What was the cancellation policy for the rental?
The red tide was already spreading in August when you booked it. It was in the news as well.

Unfortunately it’s not the fault of the owner that there was red tide.if you booked a property with a cancellation policy and the owner is sticking to it- there isn’t much you can do.
Thank you for your response.....yes we are aware that Red Tide occurs in Florida. At the time of our booking, however, it was in the Gulf of Mexico and not on the Atlantic side. The cancellation policy is a 60 day policy, nothing after 60 days. Again, thanks for the input.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,681
7,488
113
San Francisco
#5
This is a real shame. I would appeal the insurance company's decision ... unless it's specifically stated in your policy that things like red tide are not grounds for cancelling a trip which might be detrimental to someone with a respiratory issue. Knowing that your husband has problems, I'm sure you purchased a policy that should have protected you.
 
Nov 2, 2018
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#6
I do have a couple of irons in the fire and will let you know what does happen. Thank you very much for your insight and thoughtful suggestion, we appreciate that and it may be useful to us!
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#7
I am going to point out that you may have had a different resolution if this was not VRBO, as a chain may have more leniency in giving you an exception. This owner probably counts on the rental income from the property, hence the 60 day cancellation policy. Can your husband not go outside at all? I am sure there is still much to enjoy even without being able to get in the water.
 
Likes: Neil Maley