‘Pleased’ with Trip Mate

By Jim Kronholm
This item appears on page 46 of the February 2017 issue.

Having read the travelers’ upsetting trip-insurance experiences in the July and August 2016 issues, I wanted to share one that was positive.

In 2011, my wife, Mary, and I signed up with Grand Circle Travel (Boston, MA; 800/221-2610, www.gct.com) for a 2012 trip to Russia plus an extension to the Baltic countries, 20 days total.

We had never purchased insurance before because we never get sick, but this time, with the trip a year away, we purchased trip-cancellation and medical insurance through Grand Circle’s travel insurance carrier, Trip Mate (Kansas City, MO; 800/888-7292, www.tripmate.com). The total cost of the coverage for both of us was $1,140.

We got to Moscow just fine, and the trip from there was great. Our guide was knowledgeable and funny.

We experienced Moscow traffic, which makes Los Angeles’ traffic look good, but there were no Russian-made cars to be seen. We saw up close the treasures of the Kremlin (following the sage advice of our guide: “Use your elbows”).

Then we cruised on the Volga-Baltic Waterway to St. Petersburg. There were interesting sights along the way, and my wife says there was a vodka-drinking lesson, but I’m a little fuzzy on that. 

Then I got sick… and sicker. There was a doctor on board, but I didn’t respond well to her treatment. At St. Petersburg, I was carted off in an ambulance to a fancy clinic that catered to tourists in need of medical attention. 

Once there, I was examined by an English-speaking doctor and turned over to the x-ray technician, who was very pretty, tall and STRONG; getting into the right position for my x-rays was not a problem. She had a mean, no-nonsense expression. (People in Russia didn’t smile much.)

Well, the bottom line is that I had pneumonia. I was put in a room with one bed, a personal computer and a cot for my wife. I spent eight days in the clinic.

Trip Mate booked our flight home. After being taken to the St. Petersburg airport by taxi, I was met at the doors with a wheelchair, and soon we were on the plane.

We had initially flown out of JFK in New York and were booked back along the same route, but someone at Trip Mate also provided us with a connecting flight to Bradley International Airport in Hartford County, Connecticut, only a few miles from our home in western Massachusetts. May that person be forever blessed.

We had paid for everything at the Russian clinic by credit card. There was some paperwork to complete when we got home, but promptly, within eight weeks, we were reimbursed for our medical expenses and also got a refund for the Baltic countries extension that we missed. Specifically, we were reimbursed $15,476 for medical costs charged on our credit card in Russia and $2,166 for trip interruption. 

In addition, Trip Mate covered $4,235 worth of “additional air expense” in getting us home.

Needless to say, we were very pleased with Grand Circle and their insurance firm, Trip Mate.


Blandford, MA