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Is event ticket insurance just for chumps?

Ticket insurance covers you for missing an event not only in the case of illness or car breakdowns, but also if your house catches fire. But be aware of the many exclusions.

May 27, 2013|David Lazarus
  • The catch, or catches, of Ticketmaster's ticket event insurance lie in all the exclusions. But it may be worth it to some buyers.
The catch, or catches, of Ticketmaster's ticket event insurance… (Paul Sakuma, Associated…)

Glenn Egelko used Ticketmaster to buy tickets to a matchup this month at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena between the United States and Iranian wrestling teams.

This was real wrestling — the kind that used to be part of the Olympics until Olympic officials killed the event. It wasn't the kind in which over-muscled men leap from the tops of the ropes or bash each other with folding chairs.

In any case, it was during the purchase process on Ticketmaster's website that Egelko, 63, of Ventura, encountered something unexpected.

After he'd been instructed to enter his credit card information and after he'd been instructed to check a box asking whether he wanted to redeem American Express rewards points, he was presented with a box asking whether he wanted ticket insurance for an extra $7, yes or no.

"Event ticket insurance insures your financial investment of the event tickets including taxes and shipping costs … should you not be able to attend the event for a covered reason," the site said.

Ticketmaster highlighted the "yes" box to indicate that it recommended buying coverage. In case that was too subtle, it also wrote "Recommended" beside it.

Egelko declined the offer and went on to complete his purchase. As it turned out, the Iranian team abruptly went home a couple of days before the May 19 event amid reports of security concerns. The Americans wrestled Russians and Canadians instead.

Egelko still enjoyed himself. And he told me afterward that the experience of the sudden lineup change hadn't changed his mind about ticket insurance.

"It just doesn't seem worth it," he said.

Jacqueline Peterson, a spokeswoman for Ticketmaster, said that she respected Egelko's opinion but that not all ticket buyers agree with him.

"Many fans like the added security of knowing that their ticket purchase is insured through the show date," she said.

So is ticket insurance worth it? Let's take a closer look.

Ticketmaster's coverage is provided by Allianz, which I last wrote about in connection with the company doing everything it could to deny a $451.20 travel insurance claim submitted by an 80-year-old woman whose doctor advised her not to fly. The company eventually approved the claim.

As with travel insurance, ticket insurance might seem like a good idea. At first.

Allianz's ticket insurance will cover you for missing an event not only in the case of illness or car breakdowns, but also if your house catches fire.

It also will cover you if you die. Seriously, it says that. You'll be compensated for your ticket cost if you die before the event.

The catch, or catches, lie in all the exclusions. For example, you won't be covered if you miss the event because you've committed suicide. In that case, you'll face the double whammy of being dead and being out the cost of your ticket.

You won't be covered if you're pregnant or have to change your plans for personal reasons, or if you miss the event because of a mental-health issue, such as depression.

You won't be covered if you lose your tickets or they're stolen, or if the event gets canceled by the venue or promoter — a fairly significant possibility.

And as if all that weren't enough, you also won't be covered if you miss the event because of war, terrorism, nuclear radiation, a pandemic disease or if you are "operating or learning to operate any aircraft as pilot or crew."

Daniel Durazo, an Allianz spokesman, told me the company doesn't hate pilots.

"Please be assured that we love pilots," he said.

That exclusion is in there, Durazo said, to reflect "the added risk taken on by those who operate aircraft," which is apparently much greater than the risks faced by cops, firefighters and others who put their lives on the line for their jobs.

So I'd have to agree with Egelko: Ticket insurance isn't worth it.

If you're spending $50 for a ticket, say, why add 14% to the cost? Heck, you're already paying Ticketmaster and its affiliates around $10 in fees just to buy the ticket.

And Ticketmaster doesn't offer coverage out of the goodness of its heart. It gets a cut of every policy sold. Peterson declined to say how much.

My main beef is that there's too much that's not covered, not least the possibility of the event being canceled because of circumstances beyond your control — or nuclear war breaking out.

That said, there's peace of mind in knowing that if you die of natural causes before a concert, you'll get a full refund.

A better loan

When I wrote about Neil Barry a few weeks ago, he was drowning in high-interest payments to a company called Mobiloans, a payday lender affiliated with a Louisiana Indian tribe.

One problem, as I wrote at the time, was that so-called tribal lenders aren't subject to state laws, so Barry was unprotected by strict rules safeguarding California payday loan recipients.

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