Q: I recently flew to New Zealand and back. I purchased a travel-insurance policy through AXA Assistance USA.
On my return flight from Christchurch, New Zealand, to San Diego via Auckland and Los Angeles, the Jetstar Airways flight took off more than an hour late because of operational problems. I missed the flight from Auckland to Los Angeles and my final connection to San Diego.
I called the AXA assistance number from Auckland, and a representative told me that the airline would either reimburse me $200 per day for expenses while waiting for another American Airlines flight or pay up to $1,000 if I purchased another ticket.
I paid $1,357 for a flight, which resulted in my arriving in San Diego more than 13 hours later than my original flights. I filed a claim and was denied. I’ve filed an appeal, but haven’t heard anything yet. Can you help me get the promised reimbursement? – John Schwegel, Wayzata, Minnesota
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A: When a travel-insurance company representative says you’re covered, you should be covered. AXA should have reimbursed you for your expenses as promised. You should only have needed to file a claim, nothing more.
Your first claim was turned down because the company required at least a 12-hour delay. AXA’s records suggested – incorrectly, it turns out – that you were delayed less than half a day.
This looks like a simple misunderstanding. In fact, you were held up 13 hours, according to your records. Even if AXA is correct, and it measures a “delay” differently, it still would be wrong. That’s because one of its representatives had already told you to buy a replacement ticket, essentially agreeing to cover your costs.
I know some of you reading this will say that the written rules of a policy supersede the words of any employee. But I disagree. I think if an AXA representative tells you that you’re covered, you should be covered.
I contacted AXA on your behalf. It reviewed your file and decided to honor your claim. AXA paid you the $1,000 policy limit.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at email@example.com.