A West Haven woman says she could use a vacation after a months-long fight with a travel insurance company.
Caprice Kelly contacted the NBC Connecticut consumer hotline because she was having trouble filing a claim with Allianz Global Assistance.
Kelly and her husband were planning to visit his parents in Florida in April. Instead, she ended up in the hospital.
Kelly found out she had a tumor on her liver during a visit to her gastroenterologist in February, two weeks after buying Trip Protector insurance from Allianz.
"I was just in shock on [February] 29th to find out that this was what was going on. They didn't know if it was cancer at the time, just that it was something that could rupture. It had a 40 percent chance of rupturing for this tumor and it was about the size of a softball," she said.
Kelly was eventually told the tumor would have to be removed and surgery was scheduled for April, forcing her to cancel the trip.
She filed for a refund with Allianz, providing them with a physician statement form and a receipt from Priceline. Her claim was denied.
"They wouldn't tell me exactly what they needed. It was just, you're denied, it's pre-existing, that's it," she said.
Pre-existing, according to Allianz, because Kelly had seen her primary doctor all the way back in September.
"I went in for an abdominal pain due to IBS and went from there to an MRI and from there to the biopsy," she said. "The word tumor was not brought up at all. It's a birthmark, it's something you're born with. it's not something we need to worry about at all.”
Kelly said trying to contact Allianz became increasingly difficult.
"Every time I called Allianz to talk to a supervisor, they always told me one wasn't available. They would schedule a callback, they wouldn't call me back. They weren't responding to my emails," she said.
In an email response to our inquiry on May 10, 2016, an Allianz spokesman said, “According to the medical records that Ms. Kelly submitted, she was exhibiting symptoms of the condition which ultimately necessitated cancellation of the trip as of 01/03/2016. While the final diagnosis was not confirmed until after the insurance purchase, the presence of symptoms within 120 days of the policy's purchase still falls under the policy definition of an existing medical condition."
Just two days later, Kelly says Allianz called to tell her she’d be getting a $550 refund. The company said it was able to approve the claim based on new medical documents provided by Kelly’s OBGYN, who performed a separate procedure to prevent the tumor from growing. All of those documents were dated after February 29, 2016.
Kelly said she saw three different doctors to get the necessary paperwork. The visits cost her $120 in co-pays.
And while she’s happy her claim was finally approved, she worries about other people who may not be as persistent.
"I just wanted to make people aware that this is a company that's used and seems to be used quite often, and it's not right to be cheating people out of this during hard medical times," she said.
We reached out to Allianz a second time after learning Kelly’s claim was approved. A spokesman said, “We're pleased that we could provide this valuable travel insurance coverage to Ms. Kelly and we wish her well in her future travels."
Kelly and her husband plan to reschedule their vacation, but Kelly said it’s unlikely she’ll buy travel insurance in the future.