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Review of Columbus Direct Travel Insurance

Submitted by Mike
Review Added: 5/6/2010 - Visitor Rating: 5.00 5.00 (6 votes)

Review Categories:
Travel Insurance

Customer Review Comments:
I'm not sure who I should file this grudge against, because of the bureaucratic maze that insurance companies create. The description below came from interactions with Claims Settlement Agency Limited. However, the insurance company is Columbus Direct, and that's underwritten by Lloyd's. I guess I blame all three of them, but mostly the claims agency.

At any rate, I would read every line of your contract twice and very carefully before buying insurance from Columbus. They have so many clauses that I suspect the only way you can actually get any money from them is if you die and your body was returned home immediately. I can save you some time by highlighting their medical clauses.

Basically, if you get sick while on your trip, the only chance you'll have of getting your resulting expenses (deposits, prepaid tours, etc.) reimbursed is if you immediately cancel the rest of your trip and return home (on a doctor's recommendation), or you are hospitalized. Each day you delay returning home, your reimbursement is reduced. If you can't find any way home before the scheduled end of your trip, you get nothing, even if you just ended up staying in bed in your hotel room for the rest of the trip.

That clause basically requires a sick person to arrange and suffer through an unplanned journey home right away. It also means that, if you feel sick enough to cancel some prepaid day tours or whatever, but not sick enough to return home (thus ruining the trip of anyone you're traveling with), you have two options: 1) Consider that money lost, or 2) call it quits and try to convince or bribe a doctor to write you a recommendation to return home. It's not a system that encourages honesty.

As an example, I got sick halfway through a trip in Egypt, and I had some prepaid tours and a camping trip ahead of me. I thought briefly about trying to return home, but because of my remote location, arranging an immediate trip back would have been challenging at best; doing it while sick would have been near impossible. My only option, really, was to stick it out in a hotel room for a couple of days. That option also happened to be much cheaper than trying to schedule an immediate international (one way) flight home. I figured I would be covered for the missed tours and the room, but I missed the one vague line in the insurance contract that said the reimbursement period will commence upon hospitalization or returning home. As a result, I ended up getting nothing back, meaning I would have been better off spending a lot more money to return home right away. It's a stupid system, and the clauses make it so that only the most dire claims will be paid.

Also note that travel delay claims require a delay of at least 6 hours. If you are delayed 5 hours and end up missing a connecting flight or some other scheduled travel, you get no money.

Anyway, if you read only this paragraph, I would look for a more reputable company. If you go with this place, just make sure you go through the contract carefully, and I would advise writing out all the clauses to make sure you actually understand what you're covered for.

Good Points: somewhat cheaper than the other options I looked at
Bad Points: the number of clauses make it unlikely that you'll have a successful claim
Customer Service Rating: 1/5
Value for Money Rating: 2/5
Overall Rating: 1/5
Made a Claim? Yes
Recommended? No

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The comments in this travel insurance review are the opinion of Mike and do not represent a positive or negative judgement by UK Insurance Index of the travel insurance company or policy reviewed. Whilst all comments are checked for compliance with our submission rules and guidelines we are unable to confirm any of the customer experiences documented. Please bear in mind that any negative reviews may be outnumbered by many more satisfied customers.
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