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Travel insurance can reimburse you for the nonrefundable portion of your flight expenses when you have to cancel a trip due to serious illness, a death in the immediate family, natural disaster or other reason specifically covered by your policy. But to make sure your claim is processed, you need to cancel your flight and file your claim the right way.
If you’ve been wondering “How do I file a trip cancellation claim on travel insurance?” — here's what you need to do.
6 steps to cancel a flight with travel insurance
The steps necessary to cancel a flight with travel insurance vary by travel insurance company, but many have the same basic process for submitting a claim.
1. Cancel your flight with the airline
Contact the airline to cancel your flight. For most airlines, this can be done online, through its app or by calling customer service. The airline isn't concerned about whether or not you have travel insurance protections.
2. Determine the amount of your claim
When you cancel a plane ticket, you may be entitled to a refund of some or all of your ticket price. Travel insurance reimburses you for the nonrefundable portions of your affected travel plans; your claim amount is the price of your nonrefundable travel plans minus refunds that you have received, up to your eligible limits.
3. Start your claim
Claims can be started online or over the telephone with most travel insurance providers. Some allow you to submit your claim through their mobile app. To get started, have your policy information and travel details handy.
4. Review the claim documentation checklist
Travel insurance companies often provide a checklist of documents you’ll need to process your claim. Gather all of the documents required by the insurance company, even if you don't understand why it is asking for them.
5. Submit your supporting documents
Once you have the documents, submit them to the travel insurance company for its review. It's best to submit all of the information at once, rather than piecemeal, so that the claims adjuster can quickly make a decision.
6. Respond to additional requests right away
If the insurance company requests additional documents or information, respond as quickly as possible. If too much time passes, your claim could be denied.
» Learn more: The best credit cards for travel insurance benefits
Additional tips for dealing with a trip cancellation
Here are tips for dealing with a trip cancellation to make the process as smooth as possible.
Determine if you're canceling for a covered reason. A common question travelers have when they need to cancel a trip is: Can I cancel my flight with travel insurance? Depending on your policy, the answer may be yes. With many trip insurance policies, you can expect to get reimbursed only if you cancel for a covered reason, like serious illness, terrorist attack or death in the immediate family. Review your policy to determine what reasons are eligible for coverage.
Document everything and save all receipts. Save all of your receipts, emails and other items related to the trip. Keep a journal of all communications with the airlines, your doctor (if applicable), the insurance agency and anyone else related to your claim. Consider scanning and backing up your documents in case they are lost.
Call your doctor if you’re sick. You may not be feeling well, but can you prove you are sick enough that a reasonable person would need to cancel the flight? A doctor’s advice that you cancel your trip can help prove that your travel insurance claim is valid.
Contact your travel insurance company right away. You should start your travel insurance claim as quickly as possible. If you don't submit your claim and supporting documentation within the required timeframe, your claim will be denied.
Consider rescheduling your flight. After the pandemic struck, many airlines dropped the fees for changing flights. If you are planning to make this trip in the near future, contact the airline to ask about rescheduling your flight. This could be quicker and easier than trying to get reimbursed through insurance.
Remember that travel companions might be covered, too. Review your travel policy to see if it covers travel companions as well.
Buy the right insurance coverage from the get-go. The most flexible types of plans are Cancel For Any Reason, or CFAR plans; you can avoid a lot of phone calls and proof-of-coverage demands by purchasing CFAR policies.
If you need to cancel a flight with travel insurance
Travel insurance offers protection in case you need to cancel a flight. Follow the steps carefully and document everything to prevent the insurance company from denying your claim.
Before canceling, discuss your situation with the airline to see if you can cancel or reschedule your flight without incurring a fee. This may be quicker and easier than submitting a claim through your travel insurance provider.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card