EDGEWOOD, Ky. -- Thousands of people in the Cincinnati area are purchasing cheap plane tickets on Wow Air, which offers flights from here to Iceland or on to mainland Europe for just a few hundred dollars.
Among them: Jerry Gibbs of Edgewood, Kentucky. He and his wife purchased two tickets to visit Iceland in January, to see the northern lights.
But just a few days before their flight, a family medical emergency forced them to stay home.
"My son-in-law had a brain bleed, which caused us to cancel our trip," Gibbs said.
Gibbs figured a getting refund would be no issue, since he paid $25 per ticket for Wow's optional trip cancellation insurance.
Insurance denies claim
But to cancel for medical reasons, the insurance policy required a doctor's note and medical facility receipt.
Gibbs says by the time he got his son-in-law's medical records from the hospital -- delayed due to his condition and HIPPA rules -- more than three months had passed.
When he finally called, a Wow Air customer service agent gave him some bad news.
"I was told, 'You are not getting a refund.' Even though we had paid $25 a ticket for cancellation insurance, they would not give our money back," Gibbs said.
He says a supervisor explained that too much time had lapsed.
Gibbs claims dealing with Wow's customer service was "horrible, absolutely horrible." He says the agents did not speak clear English -- he wasn't sure if they were in Iceland or a call center in India -- and balked at escalating his call to a manager.
He now says had he known about all the rules and all the difficulties dealing with Wow's customer service, he would have purchased trip cancellation insurance from a reputable third-party company.
Last year, we spoke with a young couple who ended up stranded in Iceland overnight when their plane was late, and claimed they were unable to get compensation for their hassle or the lost days on their vacation.
So we contacted Wow Air's public relations team in Iceland, which promised to re-examine Gibbs's claim for a refund.
Caution about travel insurance
But Jerry Gibbs wonders what good trip cancellation insurance is if it doesn't help.
"This was the first time we had to use it, and it's not there," he said.
There's a good lesson here if you plan to fly internationally or take a cruise.
Travel or "trip cancellation" insurance is very good to have. But read the rules: Find out how long you have to file a claim, and whether you can cancel for any reason or only specific reasons, like bad weather or injury.
That way you are protected, and you don't waste your money.
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