STA Travel came through

This item appears on page 28 of the January 2011 issue.
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I normally do not purchase travel insurance, choosing instead to self-insure. However, in April 2010, when I booked and paid for the two trips my wife and I planned to take in 2011 with Cruise West aboard the Spirit of Oceanus (Muscat, Oman, to Alexandria, Egypt, April 4-11, and Reykjavik, Iceland, to Halifax, Canada, Sept. 1-11), something (a little birdie?) kept telling me, ‘Buy travel insurance.’

Perhaps it was the fact that the first cruise was a year away, or maybe it was the amount of money involved, approximately $22,000 for both cruises (including an air allowance of $1,500 per person for each cruise). More likely than not, it was the fact that Cruise West was a smaller cruise line doing business in a down market.

I had read about STA Travel (in New York City and 17 other locations in the US; 800/781-4040) in ITN. From their website, I determined that their travel insurance contract — which is administered by CSA Travel Protection and written against Stonebridge Casualty Insurance Company — would cover a pre-trip default by Cruise West, provided that the coverage was purchased within 24 hours of final payment. Just as important, the policy did not require the cruise line to file for bankruptcy in order for me to be covered.

After asking STA specific questions about pre-trip default coverage, I told STA what our ages would be at the time of travel (63 and 65) plus our destinations and travel dates, and they offered us a package called STA1.

The policies, which cost approximately three percent of the amount we paid Cruise West, were e-mailed to me the same day, and I had, I believe, 24 hours to review them and cancel for a full refund if I wasn’t satisfied.

When the sad news reached us in mid-September that Cruise West was in trouble, including the sale of the Spirit of Oceanus, I immediately called CSA. Expecting an adversarial response, I was a bit surprised at the helpfulness of the person who answered my call, and I was very appreciative of receiving e-mailed claim forms that same day.

But the incredible end to this story is this: CSA received our claim on Sept. 22 and they cut a check to cover the FULL amount of our claim on Oct. 6. No hassle, no fuss, no red tape!

Sure, we’re out the $708 the insurance cost, and we’ll dearly miss not taking these exotic cruises, but, boy, am I thankful for that “little birdie.”

JAMES P. “JAY” SIBLEY

Spring, TX

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I normally do not purchase travel insurance, choosing instead to self-insure. However, in April 2010, when I booked and paid for the two trips my wife and I planned to take in 2011 with Cruise West aboard the Spirit of Oceanus (Muscat, Oman, to Alexandria, Egypt, April 4-11, and Reykjavik, Iceland, to Halifax, Canada, Sept. 1-11), something (a little birdie?) kept telling me, ‘Buy travel insurance.’

Perhaps it was the fact that the first cruise was a year away, or maybe it was the amount of money involved, approximately $22,000 for both cruises (including an air allowance of $1,500 per person for each cruise). More likely than not, it was the fact that Cruise West was a smaller cruise line doing business in a down market.

I had read about STA Travel (in New York City and 17 other locations in the US; 800/781-4040) in ITN. From their website, I determined that their travel insurance contract — which is administered by CSA Travel Protection and written against Stonebridge Casualty Insurance Company — would cover a pre-trip default by Cruise West, provided that the coverage was purchased within 24 hours of final payment. Just as important, the policy did not require the cruise line to file for bankruptcy in order for me to be covered.

After asking STA specific questions about pre-trip default coverage, I told STA what our ages would be at the time of travel (63 and 65) plus our destinations and travel dates, and they offered us a package called STA1.

The policies, which cost approximately three percent of the amount we paid Cruise West, were e-mailed to me the same day, and I had, I believe, 24 hours to review them and cancel for a full refund if I wasn’t satisfied.

When the sad news reached us in mid-September that Cruise West was in trouble, including the sale of the Spirit of Oceanus, I immediately called CSA. Expecting an adversarial response, I was a bit surprised at the helpfulness of the person who answered my call, and I was very appreciative of receiving e-mailed claim forms that same day.

But the incredible end to this story is this: CSA received our claim on Sept. 22 and they cut a check to cover the FULL amount of our claim on Oct. 6. No hassle, no fuss, no red tape!

Sure, we’re out the $708 the insurance cost, and we’ll dearly miss not taking these exotic cruises, but, boy, am I thankful for that “little birdie.”

JAMES P. “JAY” SIBLEY

Spring, TX