Cancelling Orbitz’s Shady Travel Insurance

Ever since the major booking sites that are separate from individual airlines dropped their booking fees, and with the airline sites not generally offering bonus mile booking bonuses any longer, I’ve found it attractive to use those sites.

Previously I had found it useful to book elsewhere anyway, and certainly when booking for others, because on the whole I’ve found them much more user firendly and much less cumbersome from search to purchase.

Plus in many cases you can earn mileage bonuses or cash back on your purchases. Fatwallet offers 1.4% (occasionally higher) on Expedia purchases. Combine that with no booking fees, an easy to use interface, the ability to save plenty of traveler profiles and mix and match carriers, I’ve been a frequent customer.

Orbitz has historically been better at finding low fare combinations of different carriers. Expedia will often price the same if you piece together those carriers yourself using a multi-city search (although is somewhat clunky in offering as many flight options as Orbitz) but the interface is less useful for me. Specifically, it hasn’t been able to allow you to enter frequent flyer miles which differ from the program of the operating carrier. That would require a subsequent phone call to the airline itself. And their booking page tries to sell you travel insurance and defaults to including it in the purchase, you have to opt out.

A minor annoyance, a single click to get rid of it, but recently a friend not inexperienced with travel bookings got caught up by this. In a rush to make a purchase, checking that the itinerary is correct, knwoing the purchase price and… Boom. An email arrives about the travel insurance she bought (which in this case even excluded the carrier her flights were operated by for its coverage in the case of airline default — so it wasn’t even all that useful if she had wanted the coverage, something she would never have known without reading the fine print sent after purchase).

I told her to send Orbitz an email insisting that the insurance be cancelled and her card refunded. To their credit they responded promptly to wit:

To cancel this coverage, please contact Access America at (877) 593-4989. Access America will process a full refund of the premium to you if you contact them within 10 days of purchasing the coverage, as long as you have not already departed on your trip or filed a claim. No refunds shall be paid to you after 10 days of booking the program.

Good to know! They slip the insurance in, but it’s perfectly cancellable within 10 days.

I’d rather they not make the default to purchase travel insurance. And if it’s so easy to make the purchase, I really wish it were as easy to cancel (e.g. online). But a simple phone call apparently should take care of it. Good to know for anyone who thinks they’re stuck with a mistaken purchase of Orbitz-sold travel insurance!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. it’s also possible to get rid of that travel insurance WITHOUT a phone call, or at least it was for me.

    i recently bought some tickets on orbitz as well and was in such a frenzy to ticket them that i missed the travel insurance check box. when my email showed up congratulating me on my insurance purchase, i wasn’t a happy camper…but i was able to cancel online without ever speaking with a human.

    i went to the access america website, put in my insurance account number and clicked on the ‘modify’ option…which led me to a place where i was able to choose ‘cancel’ as an option.

    you’re right, of course, that it should be less opaque…but at least it is possible. thanks for all you do, gleff!

  2. This is a SCAM! Easy to use, more accurately easy to purchase. Don’t try to collect on a claim – it is a run around.

    I bought trip insurance for my daughter. Several days before her scheduled departure, my father had a severe and unexpected decline in his health and went from independent living to hospice to death within 6 days. He died the day my daughter was supposed to depart on the trip.

    Access America denied my claim because of my father’s preexisting condition. Since my father has been diagnosed the year prior, and since the reason for my daughter canceling her trip was because her grandfather died, Access America denied the claim.


  3. Access America is a horrible Insurance Agency!! Once I cut though their red tap. My claim was denied do to me refusing to contact my dead co-workers family to get his flight info!!!!! Come on Man Save your 15 dollars!!!!

  4. Not only is it shady at the point of sale, but God forbid you actually need to use the insurance on your trip. The insurance company is pretty shady in their own right and make it very difficult to collect if you do need to make a claim. Double check your Bill when checking out and DO NOT Purchaser the insurance from Orbitz.

  5. I tried to use the insurance for my daughter I got the run-around. I was told that I had to show that I paid for the trip,what card it was paid on, take her to a doctor, send in the proof of the visit,with the doctor saying what her illness was…the policy would not cover any illness that she has seen the doctor in the past for the same illness or condition. She had the flu. The ticket was 78.00, it was going to cost 75.00 to change,30.00 Orbitz fees,plus the difference.
    I will never use Orbitz to buy a ticket at all. When you try to get information on how to start a can’t understand the person on the other line. I was so frustrated…Orbitz and their ins. co. is a SCAM!

  6. Adding to this, I purchased the travel insurance without reading the fine print, then when I needed to change one of the legs of the flight, only to find out that it has to be a medical emergency to use it.

  7. I am thinking everyone hoodwinked by Orbitz into buying this worthless insurance should form a class and sue the insurance issuer, Orbitz, and the airlines. The predatory, monopolistic pricing by the airlines could result in treble damages, and Orbitz has deep pockets. The insurers should simply be jailed.

    Trip insurance is an ongoing scam of the first order and these thieves should reimburse their victims.

  8. Never book a cancellation policy with orbitz. READ the fine print and you will see that the cancellation policies require an obscene amount of unreasonable paperwork that is denied through loopholes in the end. Even if you purchase the “cancel for any reason policy” there are still loopholes their company uses to get out of refunding you your money. It was awful. I was on the phone being transferred to various different departments for over 6 hours. In the end they said in order to get any kind of refund I had to go to a hospital, get seen by a licensed physician, submit insurance information, and if they decided that it was a “valid reason” by their standards, they would “consider” filing my claim for a refund. Even though I purchased a cancellation for any reason policy. THAT IS JUST RIDICULOUS!

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