A proposed class action claims Assicurazioni Generali Group, S.p.A.; Generali U.S. Branch; and Generali Global Assistance, Inc. have failed to refund “unearned” travel insurance premiums after customers’ trips were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel insurance policies such as those sold by the defendants purport to provide reimbursement in the event of hardship or loss due to pre-departure and post-departure risks, the lawsuit begins. Pre-departure risks include the possibility that a traveler will lose pre-paid, non-refundable deposits or payments if a trip is canceled, the case explains, while risks that “arise exclusively” after departure may include, for instance, trip interruption, medical or dental emergencies, or lost baggage. The case stresses that post-departure risks are only assumed by an insurer if the insured actually travels.
According to the lawsuit, the descriptions of coverage in Generali policies state various pre- and post-departure risks as separate line items with distinct coverage limits and starting dates, with trip cancellation the only risk the defendants cover before the date of departure. The suit argues that in the event a trip does not occur, insurance coverage for post-departure risks is never provided as the defendants never bore such risks.
The plaintiff claims he and other proposed class members purchased Generali travel insurance policies and were thereafter forced to cancel their trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the trips were canceled prior to departure, the defendants never bore the post-departure risks the policies were intended to cover, the lawsuit argues, claiming Generali therefore owes refunds for a portion of insureds’ unused and unearned insurance premiums.
“Defendants are obligated to return that portion of the gross premium that Plaintiff and the Class paid for benefits exclusively covering post-departure risks that Defendants never assumed,” the complaint states. “Defendants had not earned these premiums, as they assumed no risk and provided no consideration in exchange for the premiums Plaintiff and the Class paid for those benefits.”
Instead of refunding insureds whose trips were canceled, Generali has retained the entire premium amounts paid, offering only vouchers for future use that require rebooking by December 31, 2020, the lawsuit says. The case claims this gesture is “unlikely to provide any meaningful value” to insureds given the pandemic “continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry and global economy.”
The plaintiff says he purchased a Generali travel insurance policy for $1,298.88 to insure a Seabourn cruise between Rome and Greece scheduled for April 29 to May 9, 2020. After Seabourn canceled the cruise, the plaintiff “repeatedly” attempted to contact Generali in April to request a refund of the insurance coverage, the suit states. The man claims that although he left at least three voice messages and sent an email to the defendants, Generali never responded and has yet to provide any reimbursement of his insurance premium.
According to the case, which follows at least one other lawsuit filed against Generali by commercial property owners seeking insurance coverage amid the COVID-19 crisis, the defendants’ “blanket refusal” to reimburse insureds is “unfair, unjust, and unlawful.”
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