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Travel letters: Time to better regulate travel insurance

Plus, a suggestion for tight plane connections, fond memories of Ft. Ord and kudos on Sherlock Holmes story.

October 27, 2013

I would like to endorse the call for a congressional hearing to change the way travel insurance is marketed ["What That Policy Covers," by Catharine Hamm, Oct. 6]. We foolishly bought travel insurance for a trip to Ireland in May. The insurance was marketed to cover discontinuance of the trip because of illness.

A week before our departure, I developed severe shoulder pain and visited the ER. Tests revealed nothing, nor did my family doctor find anything a few days later. We left for Ireland and joined our tour group, but the pain returned, this time in my neck and more intense. My wife, who is a physician, said we had to cut our trip short and return home, which we did.

An MRI showed that I had a bacterial infection in my neck, and I was subsequently diagnosed with bacteremia, discitis and endocarditis. I spent six nights in the critical care unit and five weeks on IV penicillin. Three weeks ago, I had open-heart surgery to replace two valves and part of my aorta damaged by the endocarditis.

Efforts to collect for our losses were refused. The insurance policy's fine print says you must have a letter from a local doctor. If I had known about the requirement for a local doctor's letter ordering me to return home and had sought medical help in Ireland, would I be alive today? It took three American doctors and an MRI to make the diagnosis. What is the likelihood the diagnosis would have been made in Ireland and what would it have cost? Would the insurance company have paid for any of it?

I abhor more federal regulations, but the travel industry is out of control and needs more upfront truth in marketing.

David Johnson


A timely exit

I was interested in Hamm's On the Spot column regarding missed airline connections ["Failing to Make the Connection," Oct. 13]. It is so frustrating when your flight is late arriving and you have a tight connection and you are at the back of the plane. You end up wasting 10 to 15 minutes just standing there because good luck trying to move ahead of others to get off the plane.

Several years ago on a United flight to LAX, the flight attendant used this system: She announced that anyone with a tight connection should put on their call button. Then she told all the passengers to stay in their seats to allow only people with the call button on to leave the plane first. Everyone followed these instructions. I have never seen this done on another flight but thought this approach made a lot of sense.

Linda Gorman

Studio City

Ft. Ord memories

I was so glad to see the article on Ft. Ord, where I spent 10 weeks in basic training in 1967 ["Surveillance Mission," by Susan Spano, Oct. 13]. I was really homesick, but many drills included long walks, which gave me wonderful views of the distant surf that reminded me of many summers of fun in Laguna Beach and Newport.

Fred Ledder


It's elementary

Thank you for Anne Harnagel's enlightening article on Sherlock Holmes and his investigative powers, which are the subject of an interactive exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland ["Investigate Holmes," Need to Know, Oct.13]. Holmes and his methods remind me of an old saying: "By learning about one's enemies, one will always stay one step ahead of the game."

Evan Dale Santos


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