In 2020, he was eager to leave Los Angeles for a socially distanced vacation to San Diego. I had stocked up on food, hand sanitizer, wipes, and masks.
To keep myself safe and distant, I had booked two cabins near the beach with my travel credit card. My friend and his partner 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 himself at home. When the unexpected happens, credit card trip interruption or cancellation insurance can help you recoup the cost of non-refundable expenses. In my case, trip cancellation insurance saved me $ 1,388. As you make travel plans in the age of vaccination, learn how these benefits can protect your travel fund. Benefits explained Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is often found on travel credit cards. A quick glance at your card benefits can confirm if you have them. Payment networks like American Express, AXP, -1.92% Visa V, + 1.07% and MasterCard MA, + 0.97% can offer these benefits and insurance companies underwrite them. Trip cancellation insurance can reimburse prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses such as airfare, hotels, cruises, excursions, and passenger rates, depending on the terms of the card. Trip interruption may refund the unused portion of your trip for certain covered reasons. Terms vary. See also: More airlines occupy middle seats, in direct opposition to the CDC’s own advice on reducing exposure to COVID-19. To qualify, you must pay for eligible travel expenses with the card that offers the benefit. If you use credit card rewards to pay for a trip, the purchases may still be covered, depending on the card. With Chase, JPM, + 1.91%, for example, a spokesperson confirms that trip cancellation insurance covers eligible purchases booked with rewards earned with an eligible credit card. Benefits like these can also change on credit cards, so to avoid unwanted surprises, review the terms and conditions of your card before booking a trip.Circumstances that may qualify Insurance offered through a credit card extends to different circumstances. For example, unexpected illness and accidental bodily injury are the predominant cause of trip cancellation and interruption claims on eligible MasterCards, Ralf Riehl, MasterCard’s director of loyalty solutions, said in an email. “With regard specifically to COVID-19, these benefits do not provide coverage for fear of traveling to a specific destination, even for fear of illness or quarantine,” he said. The terms I qualified for the coverage cited include “illness experienced by you or your travel companion that prevents you or your travel companion from traveling on the trip.” See Also: Make Sure You Have Credit Card Benefits – The Most Helpful Depending on the card, other circumstances that may qualify for trip cancellation coverage include doctor-ordered quarantine, loss of life, severe weather preventing travel , changes in military orders and the jury. duty, to name a few. Trip interruption can cover similar incidents. Possible Limitations Your credit card coverage may be secondary to any travel insurance policy you have purchased or any reimbursement received from the travel provider or carrier. I had not purchased a travel insurance policy for my planned stay, but the short-term rental service reimbursed cleaning fees and taxes that I had paid in advance. In general, it’s good practice to book stays with a flexible cancellation policy during a pandemic, but I made an exception as adjoining cabins were hard to find at a decent price. It’s also worth noting that the travel benefits on your card generally cover only up to a certain amount per person, for a maximum amount per year. If the cost of a trip exceeds your benefit limits, consider purchasing a travel insurance policy. Christina Dwiggins, content creator at Our Sweet Adventures travel blog, was saved by having these card benefits and an insurance policy a few years ago when she and her husband were hospitalized while on vacation with their sister in Peru. “We had to cancel our flight home, rebook it, and we had extended hotel nights because my sister was with us,” he says. The travel insurance on his credit card reimbursed him for the difference in price between flights. The separate travel insurance policy he had purchased also covered medical and other travel-related expenses. See: Don’t Assume Travel Insurance Covers COVID-Related Claims: Finding the Right Provider The Claims Process Requirements are usually found in your card’s benefit terms. Filing a claim online or by phone with the benefits administrator is essential to obtaining reimbursement. There is usually a small window after canceling travel plans. My terms allowed 20 days to file a claim for trip cancellation insurance. The online form was not user friendly as it was designed for flight cancellation claims. A quick call to the number listed in the terms connected me to a representative, who offered a solution. Evidence is also a requirement in this process. I provided general information, as well as: A credit card statement showing proof of purchase. A brief reason for cancellation. Screenshots of receipts and cancellation policy. Proof of my cancellation. A copy of my friend’s coronavirus test results. I specifically mentioned that a fellow traveler became ill with COVID-19 and that another had to be quarantined after having contact with him. Read next: 8 tips to maximize your credit card rewards In about a week, I received an email saying that my claim was approved. After that, it took another week to get a check in the mail. Not bad for a travel credit card benefit with no annual fee. More from NerdWallet Melissa Lambarena writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @LissaLambarena.