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What is trip cancellation insurance and how do I get it?

Get compensated for unexpected vacation interruptions.

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Trip cancellation insurance can potentially save some bacon in your wallet’s should a covered trip go awry. Given the potential value of such a perk, you’ll tend to find this feature on higher-end travel cards. Here are some cards with the feature and how trip cancellation works.

What is trip cancellation insurance?

Trip cancellation insurance is a handy credit card perk that offers you compensation in the event your covered travel is cut short or canceled for an eligible reason. Eligible reasons for reimbursement differ based on the insurance, and you may not necessarily receive compensation for the full cost of the trip.

Types of covered events

You’ll find a range of covered events depending on the insurance coverage provided through your credit card. Here’s a list of some – but not all – of the most common covered events shared across insurance policies:

  • Severe weather
  • Mandatory quarantine
  • Accidental bodily injury, sickness or loss of life during travel
  • Jury duty or subpoena
  • Lodging at your trip destination if found uninhabitable
  • Terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, lodging or host destination

Each of these interruptions tends to have fine print associated with them depending on the card coverage. For example, jury duty or subpoenas are often eligible only if they can’t be delayed or waived. Check out your card’s guide to benefits for the full details.

How to get trip cancellation insurance

Typically, you can purchase trip cancellation insurance during the booking process of your travels. In most cases, you can purchase this insurance through the travel agent directly, though you can also purchase it through specialized providers such as Allianz or AIG.

With a credit card that features trip cancellation insurance as a perk, you receive coverage so long as you meet the requirements described by the card provider. For most cards, this includes purchasing your trip in entirety with your credit card.

Compare credit cards with trip cancellation insurance

Here are many of the major cards to feature some form of trip cancellation insurance.

How can I use trip cancellation insurance?

To take advantage of your card’s trip cancellation insurance, you need to follow a few steps:

  1. Book your travel with the credit card that features trip cancellation insurance. Your card’s travel insurance only works on travel you’ve booked with that specific credit card. You might find a few other requirements are necessary as well, including a minimum distance traveled from home and a maximum trip length.
  2. After encountering a trip interruption that is covered, print out and complete a claim form. You can find these on your provider’s site by logging in to your account. You can also call your provider directly to have the claim form mailed to your home.
  3. Send in your claim form to the designated address, along with other required documents. This usually includes:
    • Copies of your credit card statement with the travel charge, your itinerary and tickets, and cancellation or refund policies of the travel supplier
    • Proof of expenses paid during the trip
    • Proof of the reasoning behind the interruption, such as medical documents
    • Other documents requested by the provider
  4. You’ll need to file a claim and send your supporting documents to the provider within a certain period. This is usually within 20 to 180 days depending on your provider.

Who gets to use my trip cancellation insurance?

Most trip cancellation policies cover the cardholder, spouse and immediate family. Who exactly qualifies as immediate family, however, ranges depending on the provider. Chase, for example, lists in-laws and legal guardians as immediate family, whereas Amex makes no such distinction.

Your provider may also include “travel companions” under covered entities. This can extend your trip cancellation coverage to more than just your family, such as a friend or business partner.

Bottom line

Trip cancellation insurance can come in handy and save you a lot of money if your trip gets canceled or interrupted. While it’s a perk often overlooked when it comes to travel cards, it’s worth brushing up on your credit card’s guide to benefits to understand whether you can recoup your losses after a travel mishap. If you’re looking for trip cancellation insurance, compare travel cards to find one that best suits your needs.

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