In 2020, I was looking forward to leaving Los Angeles for a socially distant San Diego vacation. I stocked up on food, hand sanitizer, wipes and masks.
To stay safe and distant, I had booked two cottages near the beach with my travel credit card. My friend and his other half would stay in one, and my roommate and I would take the other. That was the plan, until a friend tested positive for the coronavirus and had to isolate at home.
When the unexpected happens, credit card travel cancellation or travel interruption insurance can help you recoup the cost of non-refundable expenses. In my case, travel cancellation insurance saved me $ 1,388. If you are making travel plans in the vaccination era, you need to know how these benefits can protect your travel fund.
Travel cancellation and interruption insurance can often be found on travel credit cards. A quick look at the benefits of your card can confirm if you have them. Payment networks such as American Express, Visa and Mastercard offer these benefits, and insurance companies underwrite them.
Travel cancellation insurance can cover prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses such as airline tickets, hotels, cruises, travel and passenger fares, depending on the conditions of the card. A trip interruption can make up for the unused portion of your trip for certain covered reasons. Conditions vary.
To be eligible, you must pay the eligible travel expenses with the card that provides the benefit. If you use credit card rewards to pay for a trip, purchases can still be covered depending on the card. For example, with Chase, a spokesperson confirms that travel cancellation insurance covers eligible purchases made with rewards earned on a qualifying credit card.
Benefits like these can change for credit cards too, so to avoid any unwanted surprises, read the terms and conditions of your card before booking a trip.
CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH MAY BE ELIGIBLE
Insurance offered through a credit card extends to a variety of circumstances. For example, unexpected illness and accidental injury are the leading cause of travel cancellation and interruption claims on eligible Mastercards, Ralf Riehl, director of loyalty solutions for Mastercard, said in an email.
“With regard to COVID-19, these benefits do not cover for fear of traveling to a specific destination, even for fear of illness or quarantine,” he said.
The terms I was eligible for included coverage that “illness experienced by you or your travel companion preventing you or your travel companion from traveling on the trip.”
Depending on the card, other circumstances that may qualify for cancellation coverage include physician-ordered quarantine, loss of life, severe weather preventing travel, changes to military orders, and jury duties, to name a few. Travel interruption may relate to similar incidents.
Your credit card coverage may be secondary to a travel insurance policy you have purchased or any reimbursements you may have received from the travel provider or carrier. I had not taken out travel insurance for my planned stay, but the short-term host refunded cleaning fees and taxes that I paid in advance. It is generally good practice to book stays with a flexible cancellation policy during a pandemic, but I made an exception as cottages next to each other were difficult to find at a decent price.
It’s also worth noting that travel benefits on your card typically only cover a certain amount per person, for a maximum amount per year. If the cost of a trip exceeds the limits of your benefit, consider getting travel insurance.
Christina Dwiggins, content creator on travel blog Our Sweet Adventures, was spared a few years ago by having these card benefits and an insurance policy when she and her husband were hospitalized while on vacation with her sister in Peru.
“We had to cancel our flight home, rebook, and we had longer hotel nights because my sister was with us,” she says.
Her credit card’s travel insurance paid for the difference in price between flights. The separate travel insurance policy she took out also covered medical and other travel-related expenses.
THE CLAIMS PROCESS
Requirements can usually be found in the terms of your card distributions. Filing a claim online or over the phone with the benefits administrator is essential to getting reimbursed. There is usually a short period of time after you cancel travel plans. Under my terms and conditions, I had 20 days to file a cancellation insurance claim.
The online form was not user-friendly as it was tailored for flight cancellation claims. A quick phone call to the number listed in the terms and conditions put me in touch with a representative who offered a workaround.
Evidence is also a requirement in this process. I have provided general information as well as:
– A credit card statement with proof of purchase.
– A brief reason for the cancellation.
– Screenshots of receipts and cancellation policy.
– Proof of my cancellation.
– A copy of my friend’s coronavirus test results.
I specifically mentioned that one traveling companion fell ill with COVID-19 and another had to be quarantined after contacting them.
Within about a week, I received an email saying my claim had been approved. After that, it took another week to receive a check in the mail. Not bad for an extra on a travel credit card with no annual fee.