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Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

January 04, 2013

If you purchase a trip from GCT, you will be offered and encouraged to purchase what they call their Travel Protection Plan; they do not call it Trip Mate insurance. You can only purchase this plan from GCT and cannot do so after you have made your final trip payment. The plan has two parts.

Part A benefits are called Travel Arrangement Protection Benefits and include Trip Cancellation (including the Cancel For Any Reason Waiver Benefit), Trip Interruption, Missed Connection and Travel Delay. They are provided by Grand Circle (for New York Residents, all of these benefits except the Cancel For Any Reason Waiver Benefit are insurance benefits underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company).

Part B benefits are called Travel Insurance Benefits and include Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Medical Expense/Emergency Assistance, Baggage and Personal Effects, and Baggage Delay.They are underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company.

The Travel Protection Plan is administered by Trip Mate, Inc. (In California, Trip Mate Insurance Agency, Inc.). All claims are submitted to and processed by Trip Mate. Approved Part A benefits are paid by Grand Circle and approved Part B benefits are paid by the United States Fire Insurance Company.

The cost of the plan based solely on the cost of the trip. When I compared plans available on insuremytrip.com, age appears to be a major factor in the cost. I found that the cost of a plan for a 77 year old person is about twice (and sometimes more) as the cost for a 57 year old person. If you purchase the GCT plan and they cancels a trip, they will refund the amount you paid. If they cancel an extension, they will refund a prorated amout. Perhaps, someone knows if travel insurance companies will do this.

Please do not consider any of the above as an endorsement for what GCT offers. It is just my attempt to provide to provide useful information to anyone who is considering the purchase of the plan.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

January 04, 2013

Thanks Janice.  I knew all of the info, and it is good that you identified key areas.  I never gave a thought as to GCT's cancellation of a trip if I had insurance purchased from another company, and if I would be refunded by that insurnace company.  The other companies do offer trip cancellation, but I didn't read in any of the terms and conditions anything about travel company cancelling a tour.  Good insight from you, Janice.  Thanks.

When  I went to Montreal in September, I booked several day trips with a tour company in advance.  Not wanting to be left in the cold if the tour company bellied up or cancelled tours, I asked about travel insurance.  They offered a package based on total $$ amount of the purchase.  It was with Travel Guard, and one of the clauses was cancelling by tour company, they would give a full refund of the tour and if not, the insurance company would.  But there is a difference in that if we buy a GCT tour/trip and insure on our own with another company, how refund of insurance would be handled.  Maybe someone knows about this and would share.   

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 04, 2013

That's an interesting question.  Absent something like a local war breaking out to cause a trip cancellation, what would be covered?  If you pay an insurance premium to cover a trip cancellation, it's usually for something personal like an illness or death, and it's specifically spelled out in the policy.  But a cancellation on the part of the trip packager is a whole other matter.  Somebody, not mentioning any names, should research this.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

January 04, 2013

If GCT/OAT cancels your trip you get a refund, see their "terms and conditions":

16. Operator reserves the right to cancel or shorten a trip without notice, in which event your sole remedy shall be a prorated refund for any unused portion of the trip.

http://www.gct.com/General/Terms-And-Conditions.aspx

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 04, 2013

So this seems to say that if they cancel the entire trip, they will refund the money.  And insurance will not apply at all.  That's how I read it.  Does anyone have any experience with this?

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

January 04, 2013

I'm puzzled by some of the comments that have been made since my previous post because I said nothing about wherher GCT would refund the cost of a cancelled trip. I know from personal experience that, if they cancel a trip you have purchased, they will refund everything you have paid for the trip including the cost of their Travel Protection Plan if you have purchased it. The issue I raised is what would happen if you had purchased trip insurance from another company and GCT cancelled your trip. Of course, you would still get a refund from GCT for the cost of the trip but would the insurance company refund the premium you paid them. I don't think they would but I haven't done a thorough research of the issue.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 05, 2013

Janice_

If this is any help.  When you cancel a trip for a covered reason and you have purchased the insurance from GCT when you made your reservation, Trip Mate will refund your money except for the insurance premium.  I know that to be the case because I have had two experiences of it. 

If GCT cancels the trip and refunds your total payment, would you then notify the other insurance company that you would not be taking the trip after all?  Then it would be up to them to either cancel your policy and refund your money or not.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

January 05, 2013

Pauline.

You wrote; "When you cancel a trip for a covered reason and you have purchased the insurance from GCT when you made your reservation, Trip Mate will refund your money except for the insurance premium.  I know that to be the case because I have had two experiences of it." All of the documentation I've seen on the Travel Protection Plan states that GCT issues the refund. Are you certain that your refunds came from Trip Mate and not GCT? Although I have not cancelled a GCT trip for a covered reason, I have done so with another company which has a nearly identical plan and my refund did come from the tour company and not Trip Mate.

Then you wrote: "If GCT cancels the trip and refunds your total payment, would you then notify the other insurance company that you would not be taking the trip after all?  Then it would be up to them to either cancel your policy and refund your money or not." This is the issue I raised in my original post. When I looked at the details of some plans on insuremytrip.com, I didn't find any that stated they would refund your premium at any time beyond a 10 to 15 day review period after you receive the policy.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 05, 2013

Now, I don't know, Janice_.  I received a check that I deposited in July, but my bank statement doesn't show who issued it.  And I can't remember.  As soon as I was diagnosed and scheduled my surgery (that was June), I called GCT and canceled the trip.  Then I called Trip Mate and gave them the number of the policy.  They immediately e-mailed me the forms that I needed, including one for the doctor to fill out.  I sent them all back to Trip Mate as soon as I had the one from him.  And it didn't take more than a couple of weeks for the check to arrive.

The policy itself does not say who actually issues the check.  Maybe, I just assumed it was the insurance company because that's the way insurance usualy works.  Except in cases where I don't see the money at all, just an authorization to replace whatever up to a certain amount and using a particular vendor.  That's what happened once when some jewelry was stolen. 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 413
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

January 05, 2013

I cancelled a GCT tour in 2005 (medical reasons), about one week before scheduled departure. The refund came from TripMate and not GCT.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 05, 2013

Thank you, Captain Larry.  As I said, I couldn't actually remember.  Once was in 2007, and once was just last summer.  Which shows what's happening to my memory.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Traveler Since: 2000

January 05, 2013

Whenever companies use an insurance company to handle their claims - the insurance company makes the payments -   but the ultimate payer may or may not be the original company.  If GCT is only using Trip Mate as a processor, and keeping the premiums and holding the "risk" (and I have NO IDEA if that is the case) -  Trip Mate will still make the payment -  but the payments from GCT to Trip Mate would fully cover all losses.    Then again, if Trip Mate is acting as the "insurer" - then GCT is passing all premiums (minus a "commission" of some sort) along to Trip Mate and they are taking the risk.

The same thing happens for most big companies for their employees' health benefits, the employer is fully self insured -  and uses the insurance company only as a claims processor (and to get the benefit of the insurance company's negotiated contracts with health providers) - the insurance company makes all payments -  but is fully reimbursed for ALL losses (plus the administrative fees) by the employer.

Author: judylee

Joined: 8/19/2011
Posts: 14
Trips Taken: 15
Traveler Since: 2000

January 05, 2013

We have taken Tripmate Insurance for every trip taken with GCT and have never had a problem, yes it's a tad pricey.  I fell & broke my shoulder while in Warsaw Poland, the PD called an ambulance which took me to an ortho clinic (somethong the U.S. should have instead if high cost hospital). I was seen immediately & the doctor determined the shoulder was fractured & set it in a cast by the way this isn't done in the U.S. but it kept me safe from re-injuring.  Helena had looked into arrangements to send us home but I decided to stay with the trip,  The day before out scheduled departure for the states TripMate called us & said if we would leave 1 day early they would reimburse us for that day & fly us home 1st class, we accepted.  Our last trip I did research with other companies & they did chatfe by age & travel in some countries were not covered.' So do your research. 

 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

January 05, 2013

 Gary-you've hit on the possibilities underlying the relationship between Grand Circle and U.S. Fire Insurance Company.  We had opined somewhere, in some thread, that they might be there, and we're sure they are.  Itr is interesting to note that Caravan issues a Travel Protection Plan which is very similar to the Travel Protection Plan sold by Grand Circle, with the exception that their PART 'A" only extends to the 'Cancel For Any Reason' waiver.  All other benefits are insurance benefits underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company, and, of all companies, Travel Guard( an AIG company ).  What it appears is that the uncderwriters have developed a policy with a list of indemnities and associated premiums which can be marketed by travel companies, yet underwritten by an insurance company, apparently giving the risk to the insurance company.  Regardless, who pays whom, or who makes a commission or who doesn't, is really not germain as compared to the scheduled indemnities and their premium cost to the insured.  Of course, the reputation of the company in settling claims in a timely manner is also germain as well.  

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Traveler Since: 2000

January 05, 2013

7c -  you've alluded to one thing I didn't mention.  IF GCT is the ultimate payer,  then should they go bankrupt - there is no one to pay the claims.  However, if an insurance company is the holder of the "risk" and they go under  - most are covered (to some limited extent) by insurance pools in their state of operation or in other ways.   In either case, the only reason the purchaser cares who is ultimately responsible is in the case of default by the one who is responsible.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

January 06, 2013

 Gary-our allusion to the risk of financial insolvency of an insurer was meant to be a far adjunct to this topic, but you did pick up on it.  And you are correct regarding the insurance pools States may have to pay claims in the event of financial insolvency.  But the main thrust of our post was that no matter who is actually responsible for assuming the risk, and no matter what the financial arrangements are between the underwriter and the travel agency( in this case, Grand Circle/OAT ), the customer's concern should be covered indemnities, their limits, exclusions and the untimate cost to the consumer.  Of course, there are other considerations, such as is the coverage primary or secondary, but our reply was intended, for the most part, to be the financial cost to the consumer.  But we do have a question regarding the relationship.  If Grand Circle is the u;timate payer, and therefore, assumes the risk, then why partner with U.S. Fire Insurance Company?  We would surmise that in some way, the coverages offered by Grand Circle are underwritten by the insurance company.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Traveler Since: 2000

January 06, 2013

When companies (whether travel or health or anything else) contract with an insurance carrier to handle claims -   it's primarily a transfer of the administrative burdens (handling claims, determining whether the reasons are valid, etc), as well as the anciliary services the insurance carrier may provide (in the case of travel insurance, the 24 hour emergency number and assistance, etc).   The insurance company also holds primary responsibility for determining whether to pay the claim, etc.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

January 06, 2013

These later posts are most interesting because they touch on different aspects of travel insurance, cancellations, and who pays.  I haven't read the terms and conditions to post this thread today, but I know GCT's travel protection plan gives the reasons GCT will refund or credit if we cancel, and when the insurance company will pay.  What I was pondering in my previous threads was if I purchased travel protection from a different company, as I have done in the past, and I cancelled the trip, how much would I be refunded from the travel protection company for not using any of the services.  I think there is an amount that they pro-rate because, if I purchased protection from a company other than GCT, I, in essence did use some of the protection, so probably wouldn't get all of the cost back. 

In the past also, when GCt called me to say the river cruise would not be taking place because there was trouble on the river and we would be bused from Budapest to Constanta Romania, over 900 miles, I could not take the change and travel by bus due to severe pain in my neck and I would be in more pain on such a trip.  They would have given me a refund they said including travel protection, but I said, keep my money and apply it to another trip, and that's the way I handle my cancellations, if I would have any, because I wouldn't lose any money that way.  The story will change if I have to cancel and not take any more trips--and again, refund by whom depends on the reason for cancellation, and who refunds the money back--GCT or Trip Mate or whichever company they use in the future.

I have a situation coming up next January, wherein I put a deposit on a cruise, but did not choose to purchase travel protection from the cruise line because their $$ amounts were so low, even their upgraded plan.  So I talked with my local travel agent and they themselves offer insurance.  I purchased a plan with them.  I will email and ask some of these questions, and see what the other side of the industry does. 

 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

January 06, 2013

 Gary, you offer quite a plausible reason regarding the partnership.  The TripMate policy indicates that all claims go through TripMate, so your offer that the insurance company merely serves as the administrative clearinghouse is supported.  Although the policy does stipulate that the Part 'A' benefits are provided by Grand Circle, we highly doubt that Grand Circle is going to maintain some kind of a risk pool for claim payment; the risk is probably underwritten by the insurance company, which bears the risk.  The Caravan policy which we cited, leaves no room to doubt that such is the case with them.  Clearly, we believe that the relationship is mofre than simply hiring the insurance company to process the claims; why do that if you're providing the benefit?  it's just an added cost.  And the Caravan policy with TWO insurance company partners would appear that such would not be the case with them.  Why partner with TWO insurance partners when only one would be necessary for administrative support to process claims?  Even still, somebody is making money somewhere, and that's what they're in business to do.  Our only knock is on the consumer aspects of the insurance.  When the travel company is also the insurer, there's additional built in profits somewhere.  Which is why, we suppose, Tripmate( and the Caravan insurance as well ) are likely not the best buys for the consumer.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

January 06, 2013

I concur with most of what Garyrr wrote in his last post. In addition to processing claims, Trip Mate is also responsible for answering questions about the GCT TTP and it's likely that they produce the documentation. However, they do not provide the 24-hour emergency assistance. The TPP documentation states that it is provided by One Call Worldwide Travel Services Network, Inc. I don't see why they state that the Part A benefits, which are never called insurance, are provided by GCT except for New York residents if the funds to pay claims don't come from GCT. I believe that GCT and other tour companies contract with Trip Mate or other travel insurance companies because the latter have the specialized computer systems and staff and can do the job more cost effectively. If I were to look at what many other tour companies do, I wouldn't be surprised to find that they all have similar arrangements.

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