7 On Your Side: New Jersey couple left high and dry after COVID runs cruise plans aground

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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It was a bon voyage boondoggle for one New Jersey couple, who had booked a cruise that was canceled twice by the pandemic.

VERONA, New Jersey (WABC) -- It was a bon voyage boondoggle for one New Jersey couple, who had booked a cruise that was canceled twice by the pandemic.

But then, this June, they were finally ready to hit the high seas when COVID kept them on dry land.

But getting that money back -- even with travel insurance -- proved elusive...until they called Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.

"It made me feel neglected, ignored," Bonnie Reilly said. "I would even say I was feeling abused from this, it was terrible."

The luck of the Irish wasn't with the Reillys for the last three years. Their retirement cruise around the Greek Islands planned with her sister and brother-in-law was canceled in 2020 and again in 2021 due to the pandemic.

"There always seems to be something that stops you," Bonnie said.

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Finally set to sail this June, just days before embarking, Bonnie came down with COVID.

"Every year, it was something," she said. "And then I had to come down with it."

Luckily, they took out travel Insurance. It's not cheap to insure an expensive trip, usually costing at least 6% of your total trip price.

"Me and my wife are not young, you never know what's going to happen," husband Raymond Reilly said. "So we got the insurance as a safety thing."

It also gets costlier as you age, but at 68, it was a no brainer for Ray and Bonnie to spend $800 to protect them up to $16,000. After all, they saved for five years to afford the trip.

Bonnie got a letter from the cruise line and their doctor and submitted her claim back on June 9, but she got no response from Travelers Insured International.

"I emailed twice, left messages with no response at all, and I called twice a week," she said.

Six weeks went by with no response so she contacted 7 On Your Side.

So we reached out to Travel Insured's parent company, Crum & Forster, and they got back to us right away. They cited an unusually high claim volume and that they and their administrators were experiencing a backlog (full statement below), and they said the Reillys' claim was not responded to as timely as required in accordance to their expectations.

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But within 24 hours they got back nearly $13,000 that will launch them on a new cruise.

Goodbye, Verona, and hello Rome.

"The work you do for the consumer is priceless, it really is, and we appreciate it," Bonnie said.

Statement from Crum & Forster:

"Your inquiry was forwarded to me for review and response. I would like to thank you and the Reillys for reaching out regarding the status of this claim and apologize for any delays they have encountered. Our records indicate that the notice of claim was received on 6/9/22. Unfortunately, due to an extremely high claim volume, we and our administrator were experiencing a backlog, which resulted in this claim not being responded to as timely as required or in accordance with our expectations. I am happy to be able to advise that the claim was reviewed and approved for payment yesterday, and the payment will be mailed to the claimant today. If they do not receive the payment, they may contact me directly for anything further...I would like to assure you and the Reillys that we take this very seriously and make every effort to ensure that we adhere to all regulations as it relates to claims handling. Our standard business practice is to respond promptly pursuant to state regulations and it is our standard business practice to ensure our administrators adhere to all regulations as well."

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