For Barbara Geels Dingle and her husband Jon, exploring other cultures and countries is a part of life.
"We love travel," Barbara said.
Their love for exploring has taken them on adventures around the world, from Alaska to Amsterdam to Hong Kong. So to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary, they decided to go big.
"We had never been to Hawaii or Tahiti for that matter so we said, OK, we want to go to French Polynesia and we found this fantastic, amazing cruise," she said.
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A 12-day South Pacific cruise that would take them from Honolulu to Papeete, with several stops in between, over the Thanksgiving holiday last year. But days into their adventure, Barbara knew something was wrong with her husband, as they prepared for the day's excursion.
"We woke up in Bora Bora, it was a dream," she said. "It's been a bucket list item for many people and my husband, he had not been feeling well, and he said 'I can't do it, I can't go, I can't breathe,'" Barbara said.
He was checked out by doctors on the ship, who told them Jon was very sick, Barbara said.
"They took an x-ray and immediately it was clear that he had ... double pneumonia," she said. "His oxygen saturation was dropping and his heart was racing."
Doctors on the ship stabilized Jon and they were able to get him to a hospital in Tahiti, where he spent 27 days in the ICU, Barbara said. Their regular health insurance covered the bills related to the hospital stay. The couple's medical evacuation insurance also kicked in.
"They took care of everything," she said. "They were fantastic."
The couple eventually made it back home to South Florida and in late January, Barbara filed a claim with Aon Affinity for the thousands of dollars in expenses they had racked up during their extended stay in Tahiti. That claim was made under a policy she purchased when she booked the cruise, she said. Then, she waited.
"Every time I call they just say, we're very busy," she said. "We have an unusually high amount of claims. Please give us 30 days."
When 30 days turned into over three months, she decided to ask NBC6 Responds for help.
"Every week it's like we're forced to be reminded of what happened because it's not closed," she said. "The chapter is not closed until this is closed."
NBC6 Responds reached out to Aon Affinity on the couple's behalf, on the same day our team spoke with Barbara. A few days later, Barbara finally got a response, she said.
"Incredible," she said. "We talked on a Friday and by Monday I received an email saying we've reviewed your claim and this is how we're going to reimburse you."
A company spokesperson told NBC6 in an email that Barbara and Jon's claim for trip interruption benefits was approved and paid in full, "...per the terms and conditions of the plan they purchased."
Documents Barbara shared with NBC6 show they are set to get a reimbursement of $6,782.63. She was thankful they can now focus on healing without any lingering reminders of what happened.
"Huge gratitude to you that we can move on," she said.
If you buy trip insurance, make sure you understand exactly what's covered by the policy and the documents you need to file a claim. Barbara did a good job of keeping track of her expenses and receipts, which helped her submit her claim.