Consumer alert: Zika virus not covered by travel insurance

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- When Autumn and Toby Titone found out they were expected their second child, after already booking a summer vacation to St. Maarten in the Caribbean, they assumed they would get reimbursed by their travel insurance.

After all the Centers for Disease Control advises pregnant women not travel to areas where the Zika virus is present.

“We looked at each other and we were like, Oh it`s OK we`ll be fine because the insurance will cover this, surely the insurance will cover it,” said Autumn Titone of Castle Rock.

The couple even had a doctor’s note but that wasn’t good enough for Chicago-based Aon Insurance.

The company’s policy states it will reimburse airfare for cancellation due to “sickness, injury or death” but not pregnancy.

“We`ve been prescribed preventative measures to prevent sickness or injury,” said Toby Titone, before adding, “They asked me directly 'is your wife sick with Zika right now?' and you know obviously No we`re trying to prevent that and they said 'well if she does she`ll be covered,'” chuckled Titone in near disbelief.

A spokeswoman for Aon Insurance confirmed the couple would be eligible for $5,000 in medical expenses if Autum contracted the baby deforming Zika virus but in a statement said, “Cancelling a trip due to fear of something potentially happening, Zika concerns or otherwise, is typically not covered by most travel protection plans."

But the couple points out the travel insurance company for their hotel at the Simpson Bay Resort, Allianz Insurance, did reimburse them because of the Zika virus.

“I can certainly understand this couple`s frustration,” said Wave Dreher, spokeswoman for AAA Colorado.  She said the key is for consumers to read the fine print and many travel insurance policies don’t cover pregnancies for any reason including the Zika virus. “They (Aon) certainly have the legal right to make the decision they are making. Is it a decision I`d want to see AAA make? No I`d like us to see our customer happy,” said Dreher.

So does Cheaptickets.com, which agreed to resolved the issue after being contacted by the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers.

The online travel service booked the tickets for the Titones.

Cheaptickets.com is operated by Orbitz, which contacted both American and United Airlines, the two carriers the family was to fly on.

American Airlines agreed to refund the couple directly.  United Airlines refused but the Titones tell FOX31 Denver that Orbitz has agreed to reimburse them for United’s portion, to ensure the couple gets their full $1,600 back.

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