Travel Insurance, Ski Pass Insurance Will They Pay for COVID-19 Claims?

April 7, 2020

When purchasing airline tickets to ski passes there is usually an extra “insurance” policy to cover unforeseen circumstances that you may not have an opportunity to use your flight or ski pass. You would not want to suffer a loss of your investment into a ski pass if something were to go amiss; so you read the marking material and decide to purchase a pass insurance. You feel a little more confident that your money was spent wisely purchasing the insurance policy, that is until you file a claim.

Ski pass insurance is offered when purchasing the Ikon Pass a multi resort season pass. These passes cost anywhere from $699 to $999. for 2020-2021 season and prices vary depending on time of year purchased, pre-season prices are lower and as it gets closer to opening day the prices increase.

In this story we are going to examine the Trip Preserver “Ski Pass Preserver” Underwritten by Arch Insurance Company and administered by Red Sky Travel Insurance in relation to a COVID-19 resort closure that made housing “uninhabitable” because it was closed by the government order.

I purchased a 2019-2020 Ikon Base Pass on March 6, 2019 for $649.00 with a $30.00 renewal discount bringing the price to $619.00. After buying the Ski Pass Preserver Insurance for $37.14 the total bill was $656.14 I took the payment plan so it was not a big chunk all at once. Paying for the insurance it always felt like you were covered.

Each year I purchase a multi-resort pass such as the Ikon (prior to Ikon was MAXX) early so you get the best deal because the longer you wait there is usually significant price increases closer to opening day. Even though I knew at the time I most likely would not use the pass until the following spring it is usually a good enough deal to grab it early since western resorts cost close to $200 per day for window tickets and eastern resorts run around $100 per day or more depending on the resort. At those window rates you could well exceed the cost of a pass on one small trip.

One of my friends has a house near Killington Resort in Vermont and is shared with family so every March we would spend a planned week there and visit Killington and Sugarbush Resorts. That Vermont trip did not happen because of the resorts shutting down due to COVID-19; Killington suspended operations on March 15, 2020 until further notice. In addition to that annual spring trip to Vermont I had a trip booked to Colorado and should be in Summit County as I write this article but instead stuck at home on the east coast due to COVID-19. My Colorado Trip was supposed to be from April 3 to April 10 and would have visited Copper and Winter Park Resorts in Colorado. Copper Mountain and Winter Park suspended operations on March 15, 2020 indefinitely until the COVID-19 crisis resolved.

Knowing both mountains were closed and the season ended prior to using my pass at all for the 2019-2020 season I decided to file a claim on the insurance I purchased at time of sale.

I wrote into Ikon and they said contact Red Sky and a few days later Red Sky stated they would not cover COVID-19 but I could choose to file a claim and provided a link. I went to the website and filed a claim with supporting documentation of lodging dates, flights, government closures, and lodge/housing closures.

Reading the policy I felt that a government closure from COVID-19 a Natural Disaster would be covered as per their advertising. “Uninhabitability of the destination vacation home caused by a natural disaster” The building is uninhabitable because of the government closure due to the COVID-19 virus.

I could see if the conspiracy theorists are right and COVID-19 was made in a chemical weapons laboratory in Wuhan China and somehow escaped maybe it would not be a “natural disaster”. For now scientists say the COVID-19 was or is naturally occurring and skipped over to humans in China naturally. Not to digress we will leave that to someone else to figure out and write about.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency issued Colorado a Disaster Declaration on March 28, 2020

FEMA The Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a Colorado Disaster Deceleration on 3/28/2020 due to the COVID-19 virus.

President Donald J. Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Colorado

Release date: 
March 29, 2020
Release Number: 
WASHINGTON — FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Colorado to supplement the state, tribes and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020 and continuing.
Federal funding is available to the state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.
Lee dePalo has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

Summit County Colorado Ordering Short Term Lodging Closed. I was staying in Summit County where my lodging is.

I filed the claim and a few days letter I received an explanation of benefits denying the claim.

“We have received and reviewed your Season Pass Cancellation claim of your trip for travel dates December 1, 2019 through May 25, 2020. We have determined that we are unable to approve your claim or to provide any benefits under your claim.

There are no benefits under a travel insurance policy for shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders issued as they are not quarantines as defined by the CDC. These orders are intended to reduce harm from the spread of coronavirus in a community. Unlike quarantines, there are many exceptions provided under these orders that permit one to leave their homes for essential activities including but not limited to, seeing a doctor for medical care, grocery shopping, pick up carry out orders from restaurants, to bike or run, so long as social distancing is practiced

Reason Code 59: Shelter-at-place or Stay home order*. There are no benefits under a travel insurance policy for shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders issued as they are not quarantines as defined by the CDC. These orders are intended to reduce harm from the spread of coronavirus in a community. Unlike quarantines, there are many exceptions provided under these orders

Travel insurance is generally misunderstood to insure every circumstance. It does not. It only insures the perils listed in the policy, subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions. While we certainly understand your disappointment at the full denial of this claim, please understand that we must consider each claim and the applicable facts under the terms and conditions of the policy purchased. In closing, it is our position that the benefits issued were calculated correctly. If you have any additional information that you feel would affect our determination, please email it to the following address for review:

Where to turn to next?

Since my home state is New Jersey where I purchased the insurance policy I filed a complaint with the State of New Jersey Division of Banking and Insurance, Consumer Protection Services.

This story will be continued but this is where I am in the process of trying to make a claim on an insurance policy.

I know others who have purchased passes with no insurance that just took the loss. Those pass holders are hoping that Ikon would provide them some kind of credit or discount towards next year’s pass. For the souls like myself who purchased insurance thinking you are covered, so far your are not covered according to the insurance company.

How ever this works out either through a state agency like New Jersey who is currently working on legislation to make insurance companies pay for COVID-19 losses or though possible future “class action” lawsuit by some attorneys. You may get something, you may not get something. Time will tell how this all plays out.

As for now I recommend holding off on purchasing any multi-resort passes until this COVID-19 situation is resolved or we get a better idea how next season will go. You could purchase a 2020-2021 and if the season is canceled or cut short again because COVID-19 or another situation you could lose your investment in a pass product even if you have purchase insurance thinking you are safe from a loss.

At the time of the writing of this article I could not find anything on the Ikon web page in regards of any discount or assurance of 20/21 season investment in a multi resort pass.