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Trip Delay and Interruption Coverage: Does Your Card Have It?

Aug. 27, 2014
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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One of the credit card perks that has slowly made its way into the list of common benefits is trip delay/interruption coverage. Once the purview for only the most prestigious of cards, some form of trip delay/interruption coverage is now a relatively standard benefit of even low-level card membership.

Does your card have it? If so, is it of any real value, and how can you use it?

To see if you have it, check in your membership guide that came with your card or call the issuer’s customer service line.

Among credit cards from various issuers, the coverage can be quite similar. The verbiage in the actual terms and conditions may vary slightly, as do the amounts of recompense available, but for the most part, it’s all the same.

Let’s take a look at trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

Who is covered?

You and just about any family member, including grandparents, in-laws, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews — as long as they are on the same trip with you.

Coverage amount

Usually $3,000 to $5,000 per person, but usually only 2x that amount per occurrence. Some will reimburse for the monetary value of rewards points used at a rate of a penny per mile, while others require you to have charged the entire trip on your credit card.

This coverage is secondary to any other insurance you may have purchased.

Covered events

This is where you’ll see the most variance. Some cards are generous in covering all of the following, while others exempt military orders or terrorist events.

  • Accidental bodily injury, death, illness experienced by you or a traveling companion.
  • Severe weather.
  • Military orders.
  • Terrorist event.
  • Jury duty or subpoena.
  • Quarantine.
  • Insolvency of your travel agency or tour operator.

What isn’t covered?

  • Carrier, tour operator or agency canceling the trip for anything other than severe weather.
  • A simple change of plans, even if from contractual obligation.
  • Pre-existing condition.
  • Accident from commission of a crime.
  • Anything that happens to you while you are in jail.
  • Anything that happens to you while in a motorized race.
  • Traveling on a rocket.
  • Suicide or self-inflicted injury.
  • War.

Providing proof

This is where you are going to have stick to the letter of the fine print, because while the perks are offered, that doesn’t mean your issuer will be happy to pay you. You’ll have around 21 days to file the claim, and 60 to 90 days to provide the proof. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • Claim form.
  • Copy of itinerary.
  • Confirmation of reason for cancellation/interruption. This may include a lengthy physician’s report.
  • Copy of credit card statement showing the prepaid travel charges.
  • Proof of expenses incurred.
  • Copy of cancellation policies of operator.

» MORE: 7 Ways your credit card could save you money on holiday travel

Trip delay coverage

Most of the same rules apply. Each card has roughly the same language, for those that actually offer the coverage, which is substantially fewer than the other type of trip coverage.

The benefits usually cap at around $500 per occurrence per person, for trips delayed more than 12 hours. The claim is intended to cover expenses charged on the card that you incur as a result of the delay, such as hotel, meals, toiletries and so on.

Who provides the benefits?

The benefits may be provided either by the issuer – such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express – or by the bank itself. Whichever one it turns out to be, if you end up unsatisfied, call the other. You may be surprised that they will make you whole.

Delayed travelers image via Shutterstock.