Charles Leggett died before he could take a March Royal Caribbean cruise with his wife, Maurene. The cruise line rejected her travel insurance claim. (Photo: Facebook)
The story about a tragically aborted vacation has a happy ending, and a word of warning to travelers about the importance of getting the right travel insurance.
A Florida widow whose husband died right before they were to take a Royal Caribbean cruise has been reimbursed for the cost of her trip after the cruise line refused to honor her travel insurance claim.
Maurene Leggett and her husband, Charles, had used AAA last January to book a March cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. They also bought travel insurance through the cruise line. Leggett tells Tampa Bay station WTSP that Charles had been diagnosed with colon cancer at the time — a fact she says they shared with the travel agent when they bought their tickets and travel insurance. Still, she says Charles was feeling well enough to travel.
Sadly, just a few weeks before the March trip, Charles was hospitalized and the couple had to cancel the cruise. He died in April.
The Leggetts were supposed to take a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. (Photo: Flickr/stu)
Leggett filed a claim to be reimbursed for the missed vacation. But the cruise line denied the claim because her husband had a pre-existing condition, which was not covered in the policy they’d purchased.
Though Royal Caribbean offered her a cruise credit, Leggett demanded a full refund and took her story to the media (Royal Caribbean has yet to comment on this story to Yahoo Travel).
After WTSP aired her story, Leggett got what she wanted: a full refund for the cost of the cruise. But it wasn’t Royal Caribbean who paid up. It was AAA.
“When this story was brought to our attention, we just could not in good conscience not help her out,” AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady tells Yahoo Travel. Brady personally presented Leggett with a check for $3,451.94.
“[Leggett] is not a AAA member, however she has booked travel through us in the past,” says Brady. “We do right by our members and clients.”
Brady says travelers can learn a lot from Leggett’s sad case when purchasing travel insurance for their own trips. “You should communicate exactly the type of coverage you need for your specific situation,” Brady says. “If you have a severe illness that can potentially cause you to cancel your vacation, you want to make sure you have insurance that has a clause [that lets you] cancel for any reason.”
That’s apparently where the Leggetts ran into trouble: apparently purchasing a policy that didn’t cover cancellations caused by pre-existing illnesses. Such policies tend to be cheaper than those that cover you if you cancel for any reason.
“The prices vary for all of these different policies, but obviously the more coverage you purchase the more expensive it is,” says Brady. “We find a lot of people say, ‘I don’t want to pay that much. I’m going to get this [cheaper] policy’ without reading the fine print.”
Of course, reimbursement for a missed vacation means very little in the face of losing a loved one. Still, making sure you have the right travel insurance coverage can make sure your sadness isn’t compounded by a financial headache.