Travel Destinations

Friday, October 17, 2014

We’re Covered?! Travel Insurance You Might Not Know You Have

Chase Credit Card Travel Insurance United MileagePlus Explorer Card

When you travel, do you always buy travel insurance?  I’ll be honest, we travel frequently and yet we rarely purchase travel insurance.  Now I am not in any way suggesting you should forego buying trip insurance.  Travel insurance can be a good idea.  (When we do buy travel insurance, we purchase ours through World Nomads.)  However, if you are like us and occasionally travel without insurance, you should know if something happens you may still have protection, which is why I’m sharing with you the time we had to cancel our international travel plans for medical reasons and learned we were unknowingly covered by trip cancellation and trip interruption protection through our Chase credit card.

Charlie at Coronado Dog Beach
Blissfully unaware of the pending medical emergency.

If you follow Travel the World on Facebook you might have seen my post about Romeo’s emergency appendectomy.  We were spending a lovely day in Coronado at the beach with the dogs when Romeo started to feel pain in his stomach.  At home he started shivering even though it was 90 degrees outside.  When he developed a fever that evening we rushed to the hospital.

Obviously our greatest concern was to figure out what was wrong. When the diagnosis of appendicitis was confirmed I was relieved as it is a routine laparoscopic surgery with a fairly speedy recovery. Unfortunately Romeo’s appendix had leaked, which meant a longer hospital stay, five full days to be exact. 

After a successful surgery Romeo’s surgeon visited the hospital room for a checkup.  I timidly asked how Romeo’s surgery would affect our upcoming travel plans, worried by the answer I was going to hear.  Sure enough, our scheduled 10-year wedding anniversary weekend getaway to Tri-Valley in Northern California a week and a half later would have to be cancelled.  Not too big a deal.  Our flights were easily transferrable with Southwest Airlines and no other money had been spent.  But then came the really bad news.  After an appendectomy there is a risk of blood clots, so Romeo would not be able to travel by car or plane for anything longer than a half hour for two months.  Our trip to Greece six weeks later would also need to be cancelled.

While we would both like to visit Greece someday, the main reason for our trip was so I could attend TBEX, a travel blogger conference.  We usually plan our travels around cheap airfare, but airfare had not been cheap to get to Greece, so I had used a combination of miles and purchased airfare, not something I would have done otherwise.  If I wasn’t going to be able to make it to TBEX, I wanted to cancel our trip rather than try to reschedule while taking care of my husband in the hospital.  Plus any money we could recover could be used for the looming medical bills we would be receiving.  (Non-travel related tip, when you receive a big medical bill, pick up the phone before paying.  I called to set up a payment plan and the hospital ended up volunteering to cut our bill 30% if we paid in full.)  But without travel insurance, would we be able to recover anything?

Romeo in the ER
Later that night in the ER.
The airfare purchased with miles was easy.  I called American Airlines and learned that our miles and taxes paid would be refunded, all taken care of with one phone call.  But then there was our airfare with Aegean Airlines.  In order to save money I had purchased the cheaper non-refundable airfare.  I’d also paid for our luggage in advance.

I started researching online to see if it was possible to have non-refundable airfare refunded if there was a health reason or medical emergency.  What I found wasn’t encouraging.  (It turns out while Aegean Airlines' policy for non-refundable flights is you must reschedule and pay a fee prior to the scheduled trip, in case of a medical issue they will allow you more time to reschedule.)  But while I was reading one article online I noticed a comment made by a reader.  He mentioned that some credit cards have built in trip cancellation insurance.  What?!

I did a little more research on credit card travel insurance and found a Frugal Travel Guy blog article stating my Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card included trip cancellation insurance.  All of a sudden there was light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to throw a thousand dollars into the trash.

I called the number on my Chase credit card and learned my card did indeed include trip cancellation insurance which would reimburse us up to $10,000 for any non-refundable travel expenses if we cancelled for covered reasons.  Included in those covered reasons was if I, my travel companion, or immediate family member had a health or medical issue necessitating cancellation of the trip. 

They requested the claim be made within 20 days of the date of loss and required documentation, which included the claim form, travel itinerary, confirmation of the reason for cancellation (such as a doctor’s note), copy of the credit card statement including charges for the travel arrangements, and copy of the airline’s cancellation or refund policy.  The claim was actually made with Crawford & Company, the claims management company for my Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card.  After giving them information over the phone, they emailed the claim form to me.  I completed the claim form, gathered the required documentation, and uploaded everything to their website.  Two business days later I received an email stating my claim had been sent for final approval and four days after that I received a check in the mail.

Somehow I had no idea that credit cards offered trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.  This feature is now added to the many other reasons I choose the Chase United MIleagePlus Explorer as my travel credit card of choice.  If you’re thinking of getting a new travel credit card, here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider a Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card.

No Foreign Transaction Fees (my number one reason)
Free Checked Bag for You and One Companion on United
Priority Boarding on United
Two United Club Passes per Year
One MileagePlus Mile for Each $1 Spent
Double Miles on United Tickets
Miles Don’t Expire
Protection for Baggage Delay and Lost Luggage
Trip Delay, Trip Cancellation, and Travel Accident Insurance
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

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Have you ever had to cancel a trip?  What was your experience?

Travel the World: Your credit card might provide travel insurance.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.