George Fredrickson never suspected the travel insurance he bought for his transatlantic cruise last year was fake.
When he paid nearly $8,000 for a Christmastime sailing on the MSC Orchestra through Sarasota, Fla.-based Legendary Journeys, an agent also sold him a $432 policy from a company called Traveler Protection Services. It would reimburse him if he had to cancel his vacation, he was promised.
But after Fredrickson’s wife needed spinal fusion surgery late last year and her doctor advised her to stay home, he learned the truth: Not only was his policy an unlicensed and illegal insurance product, but within weeks of filing a claim, Traveler Protection Services and several related companies had gone out of business. His vacation appeared to be lost.
To describe Fredrickson as upset would probably be an understatement. He’s filed a formal complaint with the state of Florida. He’s also contacted an attorney and hopes to start a class-action lawsuit against the travel agency and insurance company. “I think both of them should be held liable,” says the Davenport, Fla., retiree.
There are no statistics on the number of phony insurance policies sold to travelers. But in the last month, since the apparent bankruptcy of Arvada, Colo.-based Traveler Protection Services, Prime Travel Protection and a related company called Universal Assurance Group, there’s been a dramatic uptick in the number of insurance-related complaints I’ve received. At least two states — Florida and Colorado — are investigating the companies, as well as a network of hundreds of travel agents who sold the policies.
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