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Buy Travel Insurance: It Saved Me Nearly $3k

May 29, 2019
inside of airplane

The horror story you’re about to read is why you should always buy travel insurance. On October 17 I flew from a small airport in Florida to Washington, DC ready to depart on my next trip to Europe. I took the airport shuttle to my hotel, got settled and proceeded to attempt to check in for my red eye to London via Primera Air. The website was down and wouldn’t let me check in, which seemed odd, but sometimes international flights only allow you to check in at the airport. I googled Primera Air to get to their main website and suddenly my heart sank. The headlines read “Primera Air Collapses; Norwegian, Delta, United, BA Offer To Help Stranded Passengers”, “Primera Air Has Ceased Operations – Here’s What to Do If You Have An Upcoming Flight” and “Primera Air collapse: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’”

Turns out the Danish budget airline had abruptly declared bankruptcy and essentially vanished into thin air: phone and email suspended, passengers left stranded abroad. I was in shock. I immediately called my travel insurance company to learn my options. Thankfully bankruptcy was covered with my policy under World Nomads. After some back and forth I learned that my only recourse was a full cancelation. The way the policy was written states that since the bankruptcy happened before my trip technically started (Oct. 18 was my scheduled day to fly to Europe; Primera declared on Oct. 2) I was not eligible for trip interruption which would have given me the option to book a new flight to Europe and continue as planned.

I spent the next five hours canceling with G Adventures, hostels, airport shuttles and more. Then I started pulling together receipts for my cancelation claim. I could claim up to $2,500 and I was reimbursed the full amount I asked for ($2,270). The next step was to file a dispute with Wells Fargo over the airline ticket purchase – they were able to win the dispute and reimburse me for my ticket cost (about $500).

I know it sounds like a chose a super sketchy airline and deserve all the chaos but here’s the thing: I didn’t. Here are some reviews of Primera I read before booking (1) (2) (3). This happens often and unless you’re in the habit of googling airlines you’re using for upcoming travel daily then you could end up in a similar situation. In 2017 a British airline declared bankruptcy. Just recently Icelandic airline Wow declared bankruptcy, leaving tons of passengers stranded like I was.

My advice? Always purchase trip insurance. I recommend World Nomads, (affiliate link) in this case the $99 I spent was SO WORTH IT. Make sure your travel insurance policy is comprehensive and covers a variety of things that could go wrong – I love that World Nomads even covers delayed baggage!

Additionally, have a back up plan. My cousin was able to drive from Philadelphia-area to DC to pick me up and I spent some time with her before heading back to Florida. It wasn’t Europe whirlwind I had planned but it was fun all in the same. Lastly, research your airline. United, American Airlines, Delta are all quite stable but happen to be pricey. There are reliable budget airlines such as Norwegian Air and in future I plan to stick with what I know.

  • Reply
    Non Stop Family
    June 26, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    WOW. The truth is that travel insurance is really important. I have to say that, before I was a father, I never worried about that but, after my son was born, I feel much safer to start a trip with insurance. And what happened to you can happen in any company, not just the “cheap ones”. It’s an advice that I’m glad to share when people ask me about traveling with kids.

    • Reply
      June 27, 2019 at 3:32 am

      Definitely, it’s great to hear how important it is to you to protect your family when traveling! I would have never thought I would have this experience, it can happen to anyone — even if you are prepared and do research.

  • Reply
    Adele Gee
    September 8, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Definitely agree that Insurance is right up there on the priority list when travelling. We are now subscribed on an annual insurance that also covers any short trips we might make which is nearby. It does so much for the peace of mind. Sorry to hear about your experience but that is exactly what travel insurances are for!

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    September 8, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Coincidentally, while researching for my trip to Iceland, I came across another post that highly recommended the travel insurance policy of World Nomads and I was pretty impressed with the ease of buying and inclusions in their packages so I have purchases my travel insurance through them for my trip. I have to confess, I have never considered purchasing travel insurance before this tip but you’re right, there can be so many unseen circumstances that we do not even imagine, buying travel insurance totally makes sense!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I 100% agree with you on travel insurance! It blows my mind the number of people who just don’t bother. You can live by the rule that nothing will happen, but I just don’t chance it. I’d rather be covered for any eventuality. Good job you took it!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been traveling for over 30 years now and never bought travel insurance, but after reading your post it occurred to me that I can’t count of my luck forever. I’ll definitely buy travel insurance for my next trip.

  • Reply
    Jane Dempster-Smith
    September 9, 2019 at 6:47 am

    It is a travellers worse nightmare having an airline go into bankrupt after you have booked. Luckily, it does not happen that often. We have had hurricanes delay our flights, ill health and passports and credit cards stolen. Everyone has to take out travel insurance. We say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel.

  • Reply
    Mijia Eggers
    September 9, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I would also suggest to have a travel insurance for the same reason. With my usual insurance, it costs just a couple of Euro to get an international one. That could really save a lot of money if you have a health issue on the road.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2019 at 7:05 am

    Having a travel insurance is so important! I’ve only had a bad experience while flying to Russia – they lost my backpack and I was about to board the Trans-Siberian train… – but the insurance really helped!

  • Reply
    Ami Bhat
    September 10, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Gosh, that was a smart thing you did…saved you indeed. Given the number of airlines shutting down or overbooking and leaving you stranded, this definitely is worth the investment. Reminds me that I need to keep a tab of it and work it out.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I have been through something similar very recently but while travelling within India. It is so scary and nerve wrecking I tell! I lost my money back and couldn’t get tickets in other flights as it was already booked. Travel insurance sure does help you out of situations like these.

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