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South Florida woman turns to NBC6 for help with persistent travel insurance claim

For Barbara Geels Dingle and her husband Jon, exploring other cultures and countries is a part of life.

“We love to travel,” Barbara said.

Their love of exploring has taken them on adventures all over the world, from Alaska to Amsterdam to Hong Kong. So, to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary, they decided to go big.

“We had never been to Hawaii or Tahiti, so we said, okay, we want to go to French Polynesia and we found this fantastic, amazing cruise ship,” he said.

A 12-day South Pacific cruise that would take them from Honolulu to Papeete, with several calls in between, over the Thanksgiving holiday last year. But days after her adventure, Barbara learned that something was wrong with her husband, as they prepared for the day’s excursion.

“We woke up in Bora Bora, it was a dream,” he said. “It’s been a bucket list item for many people and my husband, he hadn’t been feeling well and he said, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t go, I can’t breathe,'” Barbara said.

He was checked by doctors on the ship, who told them Jon was very sick, Barbara said.

“They took an X-ray and it was immediately clear that he had…double pneumonia,” he said. “Her oxygen saturation was dropping and her heart was racing.”

Doctors on the ship stabilized Jon and were able to get him to a hospital in Tahiti, where he spent 27 days in the ICU, Barbara said. His regular medical insurance covered the bills related to the hospital stay. The couple’s medical evacuation insurance also kicked in.

“They took care of everything,” he said. “They were fantastic.”

The couple eventually returned home to South Florida, and in late January Barbara filed a claim with Aon Affinity for the thousands of dollars in expenses they had accrued during their extended stay in Tahiti. That claim was made under a policy she purchased when she booked the cruise, she said. So she waited.

“Every time I call they tell me that we are very busy,” he said. “We have an unusually high number of claims. Give us 30 days.”

When 30 days turned into more than three months, she decided to ask NBC6 Responds for help.

“Every week it’s like we’re forced to remember what happened because it’s not closed,” he said. “The chapter is not closed until this is closed.”

NBC6 Responds contacted Aon Affinity on behalf of the couple, the same day our team spoke to Barbara. A few days later, Barbara finally got a response, she said.

“Unbelievable,” she said. “We spoke on a Friday and on Monday I got an email saying we’ve reviewed her claim and this is how we’re going to reimburse her.”

A company spokesperson told NBC6 in an email that Barbara and Jon’s claim for trip interruption benefits was approved and paid in full, “…as per the terms and conditions of the plan they purchased.”

Documents Barbara shared with NBC6 show they will receive a refund of $6,782.63. She was grateful that they can now focus on healing without any lingering reminders of what happened.

“A lot of gratitude so we can move on,” he said.

If you buy travel insurance, make sure you understand exactly what the policy covers and the documents you need to file a claim. Barbara did a great job keeping track of her expenses and receipts, which helped her file her claim.

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