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House panel seeks insurers’ records on travel cancellations

The subcommittee is asking the insurers how many claims they have received and paid.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked travel insurance companies to respond by March 25.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked travel insurance companies to respond by March 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A House Oversight and Reform subcommittee asked three travel insurance companies for documents and interviews about how they are deciding to cover cancellations related to COVID-19, following their refusal to testify at a recent hearing.

Oversight and Reform Economic and Consumer Policy Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., sent letters to the CEOs of Generali Global Assistance Inc., Travel Guard Group Inc., and Allianz Global Assistance USA requesting information by March 25.

“The subcommittee is concerned that your policy to deny reimbursement to consumers who choose to refrain from travel to protect themselves, their families, and their communities may worsen the coronavirus pandemic,” Krishnamoorthi wrote to the insurers Wednesday. “Some of these consumers, rather than lose the entire price of their trip, may travel against the advice of CDC and increase the risk of infection.”

A spokesperson for Generali Global Assistance responded with a statement: “Our Global team is working around the clock and is 100 percent committed to fulfilling all of our contractual commitments, and providing assistance and medical aid to travelers in this unprecedented time of need. We look forward to working with Congress and assisting in this matter.”

The other companies declined CQ Roll Call’s requests for comment.

The subcommittee asked for lists of claims for trip cancellation reimbursements and medical expense reimbursements related to COVID-19, “including how many of such claims are paid, denied, or pending review, how many were denied because cancellations were due to a ‘fear of travel,’ and how many were denied because coronavirus was ‘foreseeable.’”

The documents requested include numbers of claims for reimbursement of trip cancellations and of medical expenses and details about each claim, including reasons given to customers for denials and locations of illnesses.

The subcommittee also requested total sales from January 2015 through the present and percentages of sales from booking websites with a breakdown by website, and from airline websites with a breakdown by airline. In addition, the subcommittee asked for dollar values of claims paid with a breakdown by claim type, such as trip cancellation, trip interruption or medical.

The companies were invited to testify at a hearing scheduled for March 11 about whether travel insurance coverage for coronavirus-related cancellations is sufficient, but they declined to attend, according to Krishnamoorthi’s letters.

Witnessees invited to testify at that hearing included Travel Guard Group CEO Robert Gallagher, Allianz Global Assistance USA CEO Michael Nelson and Generali Global Assistance CEO Christopher Carnicelli.

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