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With roughly 15% of US travelers having to cancel or change their travel plans each year, investing in quality travel insurance is a must. But one of the issues with travel insurance is it can be prohibitively expensive, with 3rd party insurance plans increasing the cost of travel by as much as 10%.
If you carry a rewards card in your wallet, chances are you already have access to some form of travel insurance, with many cards featuring a variety of travel protection policies that have your back when something goes wrong. And the cost of this coverage? For the majority of providers, the policy is free of charge, the only qualifying factor being you use the card to pay for the travel you want to be covered.
The coverage you need if you have to cancel travel plans, or your trip is interrupted partway through your vacation, is Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance.
What is Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance?
Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance covers you if your travel plans are interrupted during a trip, or you have to cancel before your travel begins for any of the reasons covered under your card’s policy. The difference between the two policies is simple.
- Trip Cancellation covers you up until the day of departure. If your plans are canceled due to bad weather, illness, or another covered reason before you depart on your travels, Trip Cancellation insurance can help you recover the out-of-pocket, pre-paid expenses you can’t recoup from the travel provider.
- Trip Interruption covers you during your travels. If your trip is interrupted for a covered event and you have to cut your travels short, Trip Interruption Insurance can reimburse you for the portion of the journey you are unable to complete.
Both Chase and Citi cover trips paid for with points or your qualifying card, so the cards listed in the table below include award travel paid for directly with points.
The Best Rewards Credit Cards for Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance
Similar to the results in our post covering the best cards for Trip Delay Reimbursement, all the cards listed below are from Chase or Citi. Chase provides the higher maximum claim limit than Citi.
|Credit Card||Maximum Coverage||Who is Covered||Annual Fee||Guide to Benefits|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Up to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)||Primary cardholder and immediate family||$95||Sapphire Preferred Guide to Benefits|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Up to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)||Primary cardholder and immediate family||$450||Sapphire Reserve Guide to Benefits|
|The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card||Up to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)||Primary cardholder and immediate family||$450||Ritz-Carlton Card Guide to Benefits|
|United MileagePlus® Club Card||Up to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)||Primary cardholder and immediate family||$450||MileagePlus Club Card Guide to Benefits|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Up to $1,500 per covered trip||Primary cardholder and family members||$0||Double Cash Card Benefits|
|Citi Prestige® Card||Up to $5,000 per traveler per covered trip||Primary cardholder and family members||$450||Prestige Card Guide to Benefits|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||Up to $5,000 per covered trip||Primary cardholder and family members||$95||ThankYou Premier Guide to Benefits|
Unfortunately, Amex cards don’t make the list, even premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express as American Express doesn’t offer Trip Delay, Interruption, or Cancellation insurance on any of its credit card products. Other providers that don’t make the cut include:
- U.S. Bank – Provides $2,000 coverage on its flagship U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
- Barclays – Provides $1,500 coverage on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
- Capital One – Only covers $1,500 on World MasterCard and World Elite MasterCard products
- Discover – Doesn’t offer Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance
Another card often featured on ‘best of' lists is the United℠ Explorer Card from Chase. However, the latest Guide to Benefits for the card states the Trip Interruption/Cancellation coverage was cut June 1, 2018, from $10,000 per trip to $1,500 per covered person up to a maximum $6,000 per trip.
What does Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance Cover?
Coverage differs between providers, but the most common covered events include:
- Accidental injury, death, or illness experienced by you or a family member
- Severe weather which prevents you from the beginning or continuing a trip
- Change in military orders for you, your spouse, or partner
- A terrorist action or hijacking
- Jury duty or receiving a subpoena from the courts which can't be postponed or waived
- Finding your hotel/accommodation to be uninhabitable
- Quarantine imposed by a Physician for health reasons
- Financial insolvency of the Travel Agency, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier whose services you booked
The expenses covered by your policy are typically limited to non-refundable pre-paid air, land, or sea transportation, change fees if you need to change travel arrangements to a later date, and any pre-paid tour or accommodation costs that cannot be refunded. Unlike the Trip Delay coverage provided on many of the same cards, to receive a full refund of your travel expenses, the entire trip must be paid for on the card or with points earned within that provider's rewards programs.
How to File a Trip Interruption or Cancellation Claim
To file a claim, you’ll need to supply the following documentation:
- Completed claim form
- Copy of your itinerary and tickets
- Confirmation of the reason for the Trip Cancellation/Interruption—i.e., medical documents, death certificate, or other documentation supporting your claim
- Copy of the Credit Card statement that shows the charge for prepaid travel arrangements
- Proof of expenses incurred due to a Trip Interruption
- A copy of the cancellation or refund policies of the Common Carrier, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier
- Any other documentation required by your card provider
The claim window is a lot shorter with Chase than Citi, less than half the time Citi allows for the initial claim to be made.
- Chase – Need to file a claim within 20 days of the cancellation/interruption, and all supporting documents supplied within 90 days.
- Citi – Provides 60 days for you to lodge a claim, with all supporting documents submitted within 180 days.
To file a claim, either call your Benefits Administrator or visit the Chase or Citi websites.
- Chase – Head to eclaimsline.com or Call the Benefit Administrator at 1-804-281-5772 for information to file a claim.
- Citi – Go to CardBenefits.citi.com to download a claim form or call 1-866-506-5222 for instructions on how to submit a claim.
An essential feature if you don’t want to pay top dollar for 3rd party travel insurance, Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance offered with rewards credit cards can save you plenty of cash by making another ‘necessary’ travel insurance free of charge for cardholders.
While the four Chase cards all feature the same coverage, the gong for best overall card goes to the Sapphire Preferred. Compared to the premium cards keeping it company at the top of the table, the Sapphire Preferred only charges an annual fee of $95, and yet provides the same or better coverage than every other card on the list. The Citi® Double Cash Card also gets an honorable mention, with $5K Trip Interruption/Cancellation coverage on a card that charges no annual fee.
If you’ve ever made a Trip Interruption or Cancellation claim on your card, either approved or denied, we’d love to hear your experience in the comments!
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