With travel insurer out of business, refund is in doubt
Q: I booked a cruise through Legendary Journeys in January 2008 for my husband and me. I immediately paid a $4,000 deposit and paid the remainder in July. After paying more than $6,000 for the cruise and excursions, I purchased trip insurance through Prime Travel Protection Inc. for more than $1,000.
Unfortunately, my daughter became ill and required long-term care after her release from the hospital. My husband and I were her primary caregivers so we were no longer able to leave on a cruise for two months.
I immediately contacted Legendary Journeys to inform them and begin the claims process. I spoke to a representative the day I faxed my request in and was told he would help me with the claim and procedures for filing it. Despite numerous phone calls and messages, I was never able to speak to him again.
I also called the trip insurer, Prime Travel, where an agent told me she would send claim forms that day. They have never arrived and again I was not able to establish any further contact with Prime Travel Protection.
I would like a refund of $6,844 pursuant to the $1,058 we paid to insure the cost of our trip in the event of unforeseeable reasons for cancellation.
A: Regrettably, we can't help you to get your insured money refunded, but we can explain the situation.
Prime Travel Protection, Inc. closed its doors Jan. 26. The owner, Jerry Watson, did call Action in response to your complaint. His voicemail said that his company's records show that it sent out claim forms and confirmed your correct address. Watson said Prime Travel will send out new forms to you immediately, but did not comment further on your complaint.
From my understanding of the terms and conditions of your policy, your claim deserves to be fulfilled. Whether you ever see the money is hard to say.
According to Chris Elliott, a well-known travel journalist, Colorado-based Prime Travel Protection released a letter notifying the public of its plan of action to settle claims. The letter states that Watson has "committed to make a series of capital contributions to Prime Travel Protection, Inc. over a 60-month period."
Watson's plan is to repay currently approved claims within the first three years of this plan, while still accepting new claims. Claims that have not yet been approved but warrant a refund are set to be repaid in the final two years of the plan.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has issued legal notices to Legendary Journeys, Palm Coast Travel of Lake Worth, Vacation Superstore Network Inc. and DBA Best Price Cruises, both of Port St. Lucie, charging that "they violated state law by selling insurance for Prime Travel, which is not licensed in Florida."
The companies have 21 days to respond to the notice but, according to the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Legendary Journeys stopped its insurance sales after receiving complaints about unpaid claims.
Sink is encouraging Floridians to "verify before they buy," to ensure your money is secure with a licensed seller.
To verify a company's license or file a complaint, log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call toll-free 1-877-693-5236.