My friend called me wanting my opinion. She had booked a trip with her family, and purchased insurance through the tour provider. They had been repeatedly told the insurance provided cancellation for any reason and could be used up until the flight.

The Paris Attacks happened, and they were worried so my friend confirmed again. Same answer, “You have cancellation coverage for any reason.”

Well, her sister had to cancel on the day of the trip. Guess what? The insurance was misrepresented. To cancel she would need a doctor’s letter and it would not be for the cost of the trip. The insurance would provide a voucher for the cost of the trip to be used in one year.

If you believed this is uncommon, then I can say it is the norm now.

I booked a trip, and purchased insurance. I was told the same that the insurance would cover the trip fully. I then made a change in regards to airlines, and this was where I was informed that the insurance only provides a voucher to be used in one year.

Is this misrepresentation?

“A practice may be deceptive if it reasonably could be found to have caused the plaintiff to act differently than he otherwise would have acted,” that is according to a Massachusetts case.

Would my friend have acted differently? Yes. She would have purchased the right type of insurance that provided a cash refund.

So now what?

Well, in Massachusetts there is ample consumer protection available. The first step is to write a demand letter that requires the company to reply within 30 days or face potential triple damages in court. This will usually lead to some sort of settlement. Other states have their own consumer protection laws, which can be found here:

You may need to speak to a lawyer about a consumer issue to discover if your act was deceptive, but before that ask questions so you can make good decisions.

Cynthia Pasciuto is an attorney, consultant, mediator and educator in Massachusetts who has taught at Bentley University, NIWH and NESA.