Dear Tripped Up,
I’m a 68-year-old solo traveler who was on a tour of Sicily in June 2022, when I fell getting off a bus, breaking multiple ribs, vertebrae and a pelvic bone. I had purchased the RoundTrip Choice plan from Seven Corners Travel Insurance, so I called, expecting they would help coordinate my medical care with Italian-speaking doctors. But they told me to seek help on my own, save the receipts and file a claim when I got home. Our tour guide was an angel, arranging drivers to take me back and forth to the hospital and even interpreting by speakerphone with doctors. Days later I got a doctor to fill out a form (which I had to Google Translate for him) saying I could travel home, as long as I was in a reclining position. My family chipped in to buy a business-class seat for the return flight, a day-and-night trip from Palermo to Munich to New York to Jacksonville. Seven Corners finally paid $5,772 for my bills and missed trip, but refused to reimburse me for most of my business-class fare. Far worse, I believe they failed to provide me the assistance they promised, essentially leaving me to fend for myself and leaving me unable to communicate with hospital staff. I have registered complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the state insurance agencies of Florida and Indiana (where Seven Corners is based), but I’ve gotten nowhere. Can you help? Helaine, St. Augustine, Fla.
What a terrifying ordeal. And also a valuable reminder to solo travelers that although seeing the world on your own might be exhilarating, it can also be perilous. Fall ill or get hurt in a place where you don’t speak the language (or don’t understand the health care system) and who will be there to help you?
Seven Corners says it will, according to its website, boasting of “a 24/7 multilingual team available to help with travel emergencies,” including help finding medical care and second opinions as well as “interpreter referrals” and medical evacuations. The website recounts the reassuring story of Makenzie, a 22-year-old who fell ill near the French-Belgian border. Seven Corners staff are portrayed as springing into action, speaking to her doctors, arranging for a family member to fly in, and eventually booking Makenzie “a lay-down seat to ensure maximum comfort” on her return to California.
You obviously did not get the Makenzie treatment.
To find out why, I combed through your policy and the other documents you sent me, speaking at length and exchanging emails with Greg Jung, Seven Corners’ executive vice president, and even asking a Times colleague, Ilaria Parogni, to translate that form your Sicilian physician filled out from Italian doctor-scribble to standard English.