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Travel Insurance

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've followed these forums for a while but rarely post.  I know a lot of people on here travel up to go skiing often and usually book somewhere to stay.  You are usually offered travel insurance (for a premium of 6% of your travel costs in my example) and I always thought it was a cool thing to have to protect me from the roads being dangerous and making it hazardous it to try and drive through a storm (I live in Boulder). 

 

Well, I follow several weather blogs and saw a few days ago that this storm that is currently dumping on Colorado would probably drop a few feet in Boulder and make it very hard to drive back and forth daily like I normally do.  Because of this, I decided to book a room so I could get the awesome powder skiing without the horrible road conditions.  I was going to try and drive up during the beginning or before this storm hit.  But, I knew the exact schedule of a storm is completely unpredictable, so I got travel insurance just in case it because too dangerous to drive up (it is normally the only way you can get a refund). Unfortunately for me, I learned today to NEVER get travel insurance to help with road conditions/adverse weather.

 

I drove from Boulder to A-basin this morning and it took almost 3 hours (normally takes 1hr 5min).  On the way the roads were extremely hazardous (http://www.cotrip.org/).  I have 4WD, snow tires, and am fairly competent at driving in snow.  Yet, given this, I spun out once and was sliding all over the place.  Many cars were stuck in the middle of the road, in the side road ditches, and I even saw a few wrecks. 

 

About half way up, around Idaho Springs, I decided to stop and consider going back.  I called the insurance company to try and get my money back because I have a friend who said I could crash at his place and the rest of the way looked really dangerous to drive through (granted they thought I was all the way back in Boulder). The insurance company, Vail Resorts Insurance, told me that unless every single possible road to get to Vail was CLOSED (from boulder) and that I could prove this fact, I probably would have to forfeit the entire cost of the hotel. Considering how dangerous the roads are and how many bad drivers are out there (I spun out because of a bad driver), this means possibly risking my life to drive from Boulder to Vail in a horrible storm or a 99% chance of forfeiting several hundred dollars. What a great choice travel insurance gives you. Props to Vail Resorts for putting its customers in that predicament (and as a college student, several hundred dollars is worth a lot). As a huge multimillion dollar company, I believe Vail Resorts should be more accommodating to their customers (especially considering I-70 has been closed since around 2pm eastbound from Vail to Golden, almost 85 miles of interstate highway) and try to keep the roads safe by not forcing people to make such a risky decision. By letting the customer use this travel insurance in these rare cases (how often does that much of I-70 get closed, never?), and making it clear a full refund will be granted, they will lose very little money in the large scheme of things (what is insurance for, shits and giggles?) and the customer will be saved much hardship (driving in those conditions was one of the most stressful events of my life). 

 

Lastly, the hotel I am staying at, Lodge Towers, was very friendly.  They offered to refund me tonight's charge even though it was against their policy.  They told me I would need to try to get up here for tomorrow night but if the roads were still hazardous they would refund that night as well.  So as a recommendation from someone who frequently books rooms in Summit/Eagle county, don't get Travel Insurance if you need it for road conditions.  It will be nearly impossible to use even if the road conditions are horrendous. 

 

Sorry for the rant, this just pissed me off and bad word of mouth is the only recourse I have.

post #2 of 11

I think expecting travel insurance to counter the risk of driving in poor road conditions is a dumb notion to begin with, and I understand their policy.  Nobody has a gun to your head, and nobody is forcing you to drive in those conditions.  If the roads are open, then it seems to me it's totally YOUR CHOICE whether or not YOU make the drive.  If the roads are closed and you have no choice, that's another story, and that's a case where travel insurance probably kicks in.  I never get travel insurance, but it's always been my understanding it's there to cover unforeseen events that are beyond your control.  It's not there for you to decide whether or not you can make the drive.

 

Sorry to be so harsh, but you need to suck it up and be an adult.  Plan your travel accordingly.  If you're serious about chasing powder and you're worried about road conditions, get your butt on the hill before the storm hits.  Otherwise you need to accept the risk of driving in a storm and deal with it.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

That would be fine and dandy if that is how they advertised it.  However, on the phone when I asked how travel insurance worked because I wanted to make sure I wasn't throwing away my money I was told it would let me get a refund in the case of adverse weather conditions.  It was not presented as a option only available if the roads close. 

 

If you look through their website, this is their product description, "Covers your trip investment if you must cancel or interrupt your trip for reasons such as sickness, injury or death to you, your traveling
companion or an immediate family member; severe weather; required to serve jury duty; involved in or delayed by a traffic accident en route to your departure; termination of employment or layoff; or job transfer."  (http://reservations.snow.com/base/brands/travelinsurance/TGS0143Vailflyer.pdf)  Again, nothing about road closures, it isn't until to try to call and collect that they mention that tidbit.  I am 100% sure you could call the current weather severe (I-70 still closed Vail to Golden Eastbound).

 

And lastly, what kind of choice is this.  Drive in the most severe road conditions of the season on I-70 or lose over 400 dollars.  If you were told you could get 500 dollars to drive somewhere in conditions like this would you?  I would try, but if I wasn't forced to I would rather sit at home and wait it out.  

 

post #4 of 11

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoulderBrian View Post

That would be fine and dandy if that is how they advertised it.  However, on the phone when I asked how travel insurance worked because I wanted to make sure I wasn't throwing away my money I was told it would let me get a refund in the case of adverse weather conditions.  It was not presented as a option only available if the roads close. 

 

If you look through their website, this is their product description, "Covers your trip investment if you must cancel or interrupt your trip for reasons such as sickness, injury or death to you, your traveling
companion or an immediate family member; severe weather; required to serve jury duty; involved in or delayed by a traffic accident en route to your departure; termination of employment or layoff; or job transfer."  (http://reservations.snow.com/base/brands/travelinsurance/TGS0143Vailflyer.pdf)  Again, nothing about road closures, it isn't until to try to call and collect that they mention that tidbit.  I am 100% sure you could call the current weather severe (I-70 still closed Vail to Golden Eastbound).

 

And lastly, what kind of choice is this.  Drive in the most severe road conditions of the season on I-70 or lose over 400 dollars.  If you were told you could get 500 dollars to drive somewhere in conditions like this would you?  I would try, but if I wasn't forced to I would rather sit at home and wait it out.  

 


I agree with skier219 here. Their definition of severe weather is road closing conditions, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. You may loose $400 but I'm guessing Vail Resorts will loose thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue due to this closure.  I'm sorry you think you're a poor college student but I would never, ever have spent $400 on a ski trip in college so I beg to differ. I skied 1 day during my college career because any cash I had went to food and housing. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

First of all, this trip was a birth day present from my parents.  Second, roads closing is merely a technicality.  The I-70 only closes when there is either an avy blocking the road or too many crashes on the road.  The exact same road conditions and severe weather with out these conditions precedent will mean the road stays open. 

 

post #6 of 11

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoulderBrian View Post

First of all, this trip was a birth day present from my parents.  Second, roads closing is merely a technicality.  The I-70 only closes when there is either an avy blocking the road or too many crashes on the road.  The exact same road conditions and severe weather with out these conditions precedent will mean the road stays open. 

 

 

And your point is?  Vail Resorts has the right to choose what their marker is.  It seems fairest to me to make it something neither party has any control over such as CDOT closing the roads.  I'm well aware of what causes it to close as I live in Denver and coach at Copper and am currently stuck in Denver trying to get to Vail.  I know the conditions. 

 

Oh, and I never got $400 birthday presents while in college, any spare money went to pay bills.  Yes, it sucks to deal with it and I sorry for you but I think it's unreasonable to expect Vail Resorts to assume all of the risk.  I'm guessing if you'd asked "What constitutes severe weather?" when inquiring they would have told you if all roads to Vail close.  I know that's not what you want to hear. 

post #7 of 11

This all begs the question of what travel insurance is supposed to be for, if it doesn't cover the eventuality that caused you to purchase it. Travel insurance for conditions that seldom if ever occur is something that no one would purchase.

post #8 of 11

Again, I would support COSkiGirl, ask about the definition of "severe" (had our own encounter w/weather insurance with Outer Banks hurricane evacuations [recommended vice mandatory]).  I sympathize as I too live in Littleton, and couldn't get to A-Basin yesterday (Friday) on my day off, and chose not to fight through it today.  Closing day at Breck tomorrow and my son and i will make it :) 9 year olds are very clear about some things. 

 

The bottom line is, despite what many residents here on the Front Range think of themselves and winter driving, there is a huge range of driving skills and willingness to tempt totalling your ride.  I can't see how Vail could offer insurance without some defined condition to establish what "severe" is.  It is in their interest to make that condition "all roads closed" to Summit county also as they will limit their payouts. :) 

 

Finally i am not sure about your inability to collect.  By mid-day yesterday, as we (group from work) were scrambling to get to the Basin: 285 was closed through Kenosha Pass (long roundabout through Breck to Frisco to US6 and A Basin), I70 was closed, as was US40 to WP and US6 at Loveland pass.  How else would you have gottent to Summit county in late PM??

post #9 of 11

The solution is simple. Drive.

 

And as soon as you slide out and end up in the ditch, they'll pay: 

 

"involved in or delayed by a traffic accident en route to your departure;"

 

So, making a wise decision NOT to drive, they won't allow you to make a claim. Make a fool-hardy decision to drive and get in an accident, they will. The insurance company is encouraging people to take risk. That's a first. 

post #10 of 11

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by COSkiGirl View Post


...  I'm sorry you think you're a poor college student but I would never, ever have spent $400 on a ski trip in college so I beg to differ. I skied 1 day during my college career because any cash I had went to food and housing. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by COSkiGirl View Post

 

...

Oh, and I never got $400 birthday presents while in college, any spare money went to pay bills.

...


College need not be four years of monastic austerity. Personally, I give the OP kudos for spending his beer money on skiing instead.

 

Re: travel insurance...be aware that the profit margin on travel insurance is generally 50% or higher. Usually not a good bargain unless you have specific information leading you to believe you have a much higher than average chance of a covered insured event. (and ditto for extended product warranties)

 

post #11 of 11

I'd check out some of the articles on http://www.travelinsurance.org - I think there's even a section for insurance information for winter trips - skiing, snowboarding, etc.  Might be helpful for you 

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