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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Nearly 40 percent of Americans are likely to buy travel insurance for an international flight, according to AAA.
But a new report warns that the coverage might not give consumers the protection they were expecting.
Laura Tropiano knows that first hand. She spent nearly $1,100 on flights to Europe for her and husband Matt, a Marine veteran who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, to celebrate their second anniversary.
With the trip 10 months away, she bought travel insurance through the airline.
“So about a month after we book the trip I find out I’m pregnant with my daughter and she’s due October 21st and our return flight is on October 19, so naturally you can’t travel when you’re that pregnant,” she said.
While the insurance Tropiano bought covered illness, it didn’t cover pregnancy, so her claim was denied.
“The only thing skimpier than airplane legroom is the coverage these insurance policies,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA.
A review by Markey’s office found nearly all major US airlines and online booking sites sell travel insurance, typically requiring consumers to click yes or no to purchasing before being allowed to book a trip.
The report found “questionable travel insurance marketing practices for policies that offer minimal coverage and often erect hurdles to the payment of claims.”
“Consumers are being tipped upside down, money is shaken out of their pockets, and it’s split between the airlines and the insurance companies, uh, and it’s just plain wrong,” said Markey.
Just two companies underwrite all those policies.
In a statement, the U.S. Travel Insurance Association said the industry was not contacted by Markey adding “travel insurance is a valuable product that protects consumers’ financial investment.” The group “recommends that travelers fully understand the coverage options they are purchasing to make sure it fits their needs” and notes “the purchase of travel insurance is voluntary.”
For Laura and Matt, the airline refunded the taxes on their canceled trip, but they were out more than $700.
When CBS News reached out to the airline, it said its trip protection insurance and refund policies were clear and properly followed, but as a courtesy will refund the remainder of airfare.