Travel Insurance - Again

April 2013

We didn't go anyplace warm this winter, so we decided to make up for it by making another Seabourn Atlantic crossing (you may recall the previous one), but then looping around the western Mediterranean with many more port stops to places we haven't been before, or at least for a while – 32 days altogether!

In fact, we later realized that it was actually a concatenation of three separate cruises – a 12-day crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Lisbon, a 10-day cruise from Lisbon to Civitavecchia, and another 10-day one back to Lisbon. We've sailed Seabourn a couple of times and really love the line – for one thing, everything is included. They call their ships mega-yachts – the Sojourn, which we'd previously sailed in the Caribbean, has 450 passengers and 330 staff, so one gets really pampered.

We snagged it just in time – they claimed it was discounted 82% from the Brochure Fare, which may or may not be what anyone ever pays, but when we looked again four days later it had increased by 75% over what we had paid, so there's no doubt it was a good deal. Even our travel agent, who specializes in luxury cruises, was surprised at the price.

However, that doesn't mean it was inexpensive, so we immediately once again called AIG Travel Guard. The haste is because if the policy is purchased within 15 days of the initial trip payment, the pre-existing condition clause is waived. A friend who had neglected to do so and had to cancel a trip to Italy because of a knee injury found her claim denied because she had seen a doctor some six months before about a knee pain. As she said, "At our age, everything is a pre-existing condition!"

Another very important condition is that "The amount of coverage purchased equals all prepaid nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase and the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip are insured within 15 days of the date of payment or deposit for any subsequent trip arrangements." That is, you can continue to increase the coverage up until the trip begins, as long as you do so within 15 days of the time the additional payment is made.

I've read of a claim being denied when the insured amount of a plane ticket was $1090, $2.50 less than the actual cost of $1,092.50. I always overinsure, just to be safe.

We were even able to make a lunch reservation at Alain Ducasse's three-star restaurant, Louis XV during our port stop in Monte Carlo. We've been there several times in the past, also for lunch, the only time they have a somewhat reasonably-priced menu, which even includes wine. (Our second visit is the "Part Three" one in this story.)

However, ten days before we were scheduled to leave, Betty Lou experienced a knee pain that was severe enough that she found it difficult to walk. Fortunately, she was able to get an appointment the next afternoon – Good Friday! – with her orthopedic surgeon's Physician's Assistant. She'd consulted with her before and found her extremely competent. She gave her a cortisone shot, felt around the knee and upper leg and left for 15 minutes. Returning, she said she'd arranged for her to get a Doppler on the leg! It was fortunate that a tech was still available at 4PM, and indeed he left after the examination.

The diagnosis was that she had a deep vein thrombosis, DVT, aka blood clot, in her leg! However, it was below the knee, which made it unlikely that it would migrate elsewhere. They wheeled her to the ER, and seemed baffled how it had happened, and with no symptoms; e.g., pain or redness. Recall, her visit was occasioned by a totally unrelated knee pain; and also that if it had happened to be in the other knee, the clot would not have been discovered. If something so unfortunate had to happen, it was lucky that it was discovered then, rather then some time later, when we might be in the middle of the ocean. (For a related twist of fate see this story.)

The treatment is Coumadin, a blood thinner, but determining the correct dosage took two months, requiring blood tests twice a week, meanwhile having to inject herself in the stomach twice daily with Lovenox, another blood thinner. At least, once the clotting level was within the desired range, that part is over and less frequent testing is required. Since the body usually absorbs clots, at some point treatment may no longer be necessary, so we'll see how things work out.

Always looking on the bright side, Betty Lou notes that having a Hillary Clinton affliction is currently quite fashionable! Perhaps the amazingly good value of this cruise was a fluke, but you can be sure we'll be regularly examining next year's offerings!

And fortunately, the travel insurance claim (twice the amount of our previous one was again handled without incident. You can be sure that we'll continue insuring future trips with them!

© Copyright 2013 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved