(CBSDFW.COM) - Customers purchased a travel insurance policy they believed would shield them against COVID-19 cancellations. But the company ended up denying their claims.
Aaron Janes was helping plan his cousin's April bachelor party in Arkansas.
But after COVID-19 hit in March, Janes did not hesitate to cancel the trip. That's because he had purchased travel insurance through CSA Travel Protection, now known as Generali Global Assistance.
Janes said he chose the policy because "quarantine" was listed as a covered event.
"If there was any event in life where there was a slam dunk for a claim, this was it," Janes said.
But Generali denied Janes' claim, stating, "COVID-19 was considered a foreseeable issue when you purchased your policy on 2/18/20."
Janes said Generali told him the company cutoff date was Jan. 31.
"I was shocked to learn it was totally denied with a zero-dollar payout," Janes said.
Brian Hale's claim was also denied.
"We didn't really feel like a family vacation warranted essential travel," said Hale, who was planning to travel from Fort Worth to East Tennessee for a family reunion in April.
He said he canceled his trip due to Gov. Greg Abbott's stay-at-home order.
But in a claim denial, Generali argued a stay-at-home order is not the same as a quarantine, which it defines as "an enforced isolation to stop the spread of disease."
In a statement, a Generali spokesman wrote that the policy is consistent with the rest of the industry.
"Shelter in place orders do not fall under coverage for quarantines as insureds have the ability to leave their homes to go shopping, get medications, and other essential tasks," the spokesman wrote. "For an event to be covered under quarantine, the insured would have to be put under a mandatory 'enforced isolation' which is not the case for shelter in place orders."
Travel agent Darlean Hingorani said for most customers, typical trip insurance will not cover COVID-19 cancellations or even pandemics.
"In this situation, the family hadn't actually come into contact with a contagious disease," Hingorani said.
She recommended buying "cancel for no reason" trip insurance, which is typically more expensive than a regular policy.
"You don't have to state a reason if you decide not to travel," Hingorani said.
Generali offered vouchers to Hale and Janes for future travel.
But Janes said he doesn't know when or if that trip will happen.
"I'm disappointed," Janes said. "There are so many other companies in the U.S. that are taking the moral high road in situations that we didn't ask for."
A spokesman for Generali issued the following statement:
"We understand and sympathize with travelers who are facing uncertainty as the situation evolves and new information becomes available. For this reason, we have also extended our 'free look' period from 10 to 30 days, which affords travelers additional time to cancel their insurance plans from the point of purchase as long as they haven't already left for their trip or filed a claim."
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