Family frustrated after cruise insurance paid out less than what policy cost

ATLANTA — Most travelers think buying travel insurance policies is the safe, smart choice in case something goes wrong.

Channel 2 consumer investigative reporter Justin Gray is learning that even if you have a policy, it may not protect your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Most cruise lines offer travel insurance you can add on as part of the package, but it will typically set you back hundreds of dollars, and still may not pay out like travelers are expecting.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Wyletta Mitchell thought the $400 travel insurance policy she bought from Aon Insurance would protect her $9,300 Alaskan cruise for her 20th anniversary.

“It said that our trip was going to be covered 100%,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell and her family missed their flight connections, which meant they missed their boat.

Nearly a year later, they have only received $322 back from the insurance policy, which is less than she initially paid for the policy.


Channel 2 Consumer Advisor Clark Howard, a former travel agent himself, says you should always shop for separate, third-party travel insurance.

“My ironclad rule: Never, never, never buy trip coverage from a cruise line. You pay too much and it’s always junk,” Howard explained. “The brochure will tell you all the wonderful things, but it’s the contract...that has the bad stuff.”

Another traveler, Larry Asher, told Gray that although he was able to catch up with his Norwegian Cruise Line trip late after flight delays, he thought his policy would cover all the extra travel and hotel costs.

“We were expecting to be compensated since we did buy everything through the cruise line,” Asher said.

Instead, Asher’s $700 Aon policy got him a flat rate of $1,000, which, after the cost of the insurance, netted him a little over $200 in compensation.

Aon released a statement to Channel 2 Action News that read, in part,

“Every travel protection plan is different, so we encourage consumers to review their policy’s terms and conditions…Most policies offer a free-look period – typically 10 to 15 days – during which the consumer may cancel the plan and receive a refund without penalty.”

Howard also suggested that instead of a travel insurance policy, consider getting to the port a day or two early and treat the cost of a hotel as your insurance policy.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]