Class action launched over school trips cancelled due to COVID-19

OTTAWA — A class action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of families in Ontario and across Canada who have been denied refunds from school trips cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were [going to be] doing things in Costa Rica like teaching English or helping in the community where needed in the community,” said student and lead plaintiff Carter Adnams. His school trip was cancelled in March.

Through tour company Explorica, his family and many others purchased cancellation insurance from Arch Insurance Canada. Because of their policy, they thought getting a refund for the trip would be straightforward but it wasn’t.

“It got to the point where the tour operator was blaming the insurance company and the insurance company started blaming the tour company,” said father Scott Adnams. “I thought ‘I’m kind of caught in the middle.’”

A multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit launched against Arch this week claims the insurer breached the terms of its policy.

According to the statement of claim, in explaining why it refuses to pay, Arch alleges that Explorica has “failed to provide information and documentation it requires for the adjudication of the plaintiff’s claims.”

Explorica says it has provided the required information and the company is not named in the lawsuit. In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Explorica says “…we continue to do everything we can to push towards a resolution for customers, including actively working with TICO, the regulatory body that oversees Canada’s licensed travel industry.” 

“These insurance companies need to pony up the money, they need to pay these families now and we’re talking about potentially thousands of claimants across the country and potentially millions of dollars that is being withheld from these families,” said Sivan Tumarkin, managing partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

The statement of claim goes on to say Arch’s failure to pay was made “strategically and in bad faith in that it was driven not by a determination that the claims were not covered but rather by Arch’s dispute with Explorica, and/or Arch’s knowledge of how many of such claims would be made and its desire to avoid paying them.”

In a statement, Arch Capital Group tells CTV: “we don’t have a comment at this time.”

Even after months of waiting, Scott Adnams says he hopes his family and others will still get their money back sppm.

“Nobody’s denying there’s a refund entitled, they’re just saying we need more information and from our end. I have nothing more to give, Adnams sayd. “I provided all the information to the insurance company that has been provided to me by the tour company. We’d like to see ourselves and the families affected get their money back for a tour that didn’t happen.”

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