Q: I had a tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg booked for April with Road Scholar. The company canceled the tour because of the coronavirus outbreak. Road Scholar quickly refunded the trip. I want to compliment them on their transparency and consistent communication.

My problem is with Allianz Travel Insurance and trying to get $293 refunded for my travel insurance. According to their refund policy, when a tour company cancels a tour and I have not filed a payable claim, my travel insurance will be refunded.

I contacted Allianz to request my refund. I sent two messages through their website, but received no response. I then called and spoke to a representative on a recorded line. She suggested I send an e-mail to salessupport@allianzassistance.com, which I did. I have not heard back from Allianz. Can you please investigate my situation and help me receive a refund?

A: If Allianz Travel Insurance says your policy is refundable, then you should get your money back.

But is it? I reviewed the fine print in your contract, and sure enough — if your tour operator cancels, you get a no-questions-asked refund. I hesitated because travel insurance isn’t always refundable. As a lot of travelers have discovered in the past few weeks, some policies can be reused, but you don’t always get your money back. Most frustrating, the refund rules seem to be changing by the minute as travel insurance companies adjust to the wave of pandemic-related cancellations.

When asking for a refund, put it in writing and then practice extreme patience. In the past, I’ve had small claims processed by Allianz within 24 hours, though more complicated claims can take extra time. Add the crushing burden of pandemic-related claims, and you may have to wait weeks.

Putting your refund request in writing was the right move. While travel insurance companies record their phone conversations, you don’t have access to the recording. So, you can’t prove what a representative may or may not have said to you. When you write to a company, you see every written response.

I checked with Allianz on your refund. “We did try and cancel the policy but the customer service department said they received a refund error,” a representative told me. “This usually happens when there is some issue with refunding back to the payment method.”

You re-sent Allianz your card information, and it promptly processed your refund.

If you need help with a coronavirus-related refund, please contact me. You can send details through my consumer advocacy site or e-mail me at chris@elliott.org.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.