How I used Chase’s trip cancellation coverage to recoup $800 in non-refundable airfare

Jun 22, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

When you are a parent, life is sometimes going to interrupt even the best-laid plans. A few years ago, I was scheduled to present at a conference when my then-infant caught one of her first real illnesses, making it impossible to leave her or take her along as we had planned.

While deciding to skip the trip was easy regardless of any potential financial hit, once things stabilized with the kiddo, I did want to try and recoup the $800 in nonrefundable airfare.

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Thankfully, I learned years ago to pay attention to which credit cards I use for airfare purchases to secure built-in trip interruption and cancellation coverages for unexpected surprises without having to purchase separate trip insurance. Thanks to that, I ultimately was able to both take care of my sick kid and get the $800 back.

Being aware of trip protection coverage is important across the board. Still, the more family members you have, the higher the chances that something will eventually happen and cause a trip to get canceled or delayed. Many Chase travel credit cards have built-in trip protections, but for the purposes of this post, I will quote from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card benefit’s guide since it is a great all-around travel credit card that I think many of us have.

In This Post

Details of Chase’s trip cancellation insurance

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you or your immediate family members up to $10,000 per person (for a maximum of up to $20,000 per trip) if a covered loss prevents you from departing on your trip and results in cancellation of travel arrangements. For trip insurance to kick in, you must have charged at least “a portion of the cost for the travel arrangements to your account.”

In this case, the covered loss we are using is “accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or a sickness experienced by you, a traveling companion, or an immediate family member of you or a traveling companion.”

It also states that if a physician has advised that making the covered trip is medically inadvisable, you must immediately notify the appropriate travel supplier that you are canceling your travel arrangements. If you don’t notify the supplier, reimbursement will not exceed the cancellation penalties imposed during the period by the supplier.

To recap, we used the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to purchase the airfare; we had a sick immediate family member and canceled the flights right after learning she should not fly based on her doctor’s advice. Check, check, check, and so far, so good. There were documents required to activate the coverage, most of which are easily obtained and pretty common sense, but there are a few curveballs in the process that I wasn’t totally expecting.

Related: Best credit cards that offer trip delay reimbursement

Documents needed to file a trip cancellation claim

  • Completed and signed claim form
  • Travel itinerary
  • Documentation confirming the reason for trip cancellation or interruption (e.g., medical documents, death certificate, etc.)
  • Credit card account statement (showing the last four digits of the account number) reflecting the charge for prepaid travel arrangements (for trip cancellation), and proof of expenses incurred (for trip interruption)
  • Copies of the cancellation or refund policies of providers involved in the trip, such as the common carrier, tour operator or travel supplier
  • Proof of expenses incurred due to a trip interruption
  • Any unused vouchers, tickets or coupons

At the time, I took my baby both to urgent care and to her pediatrician in the 24 hours before making a claim. Since I knew I would probably need some documentation of her illness for the trip cancelation, I had her pediatrician write a brief note while I was there indicating the date, the illness and that she cannot fly in her condition as she was originally set to go with me since she was still nursing.

Physician’s form for trip cancellation coverage

I was hoping that would be sufficient documentation, but there was a specific form that the physician also needed to complete that asked the following:

  • Date of accident, injury or illness (MM/DD/YY)
  • Date of first treatment or onset (MM/DD/YY)
  • Please describe the nature of the patient’s injuries or illness
  • Was this a referral from another doctor? If yes, date of referral (MM/DD/YY)
  • Was the patient hospitalized? If yes, please list the names and location of all hospitals and all admission/discharge dates.
  • Was the patient recommended by you to curtail their trip/travel due to this condition? If yes, please state the travel restriction dates advised.
  • Did this travel restriction affect any other family members or travel companions? If yes, why did family member/travel companion need to curtail their travel?
  • Did the patient have any condition (including pregnancy) prior to trip booking that contributed to their present condition? If yes, please describe at what date did patient originally begin treatment with this previous condition, and was the patient’s previous condition stable at least 60 days prior to booking the trip? For pregnancy, state the estimated due date.

Related: Your guide to Chase’s trip insurance coverage

Credit cards with built-in trip protections

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great entry-level rewards card that confers some built-in trip protections, it’s not the only option out there. Here are some other cards that also offer some built-in trip protections when you use them to book travel.

Card Annual fee Trip protections
The Platinum Card® from American Express $695 (see rates & fees)
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: Up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per eligible card per 12 consecutive month period.
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per trip for delays of six or more hours, maximum two claims per eligible card each 12 consecutive month period.
Chase Sapphire Reserve $550
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: Up to $10,000 per covered person, with a maximum of $20,000 per trip
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 for each purchased ticket for delays of six or more hours
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card $95
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: Up to $2,500 per covered person, per trip.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket for you and your eligible family members for delays of 12 or more hours

Be sure to read our full guide on our top travel credit cards with built-in trip protections. Also, consider the other travel protections that come with cards, such as lost or delayed baggage delay insurance, primary car rental insurance and more.

Bottom line

It takes time to make a trip protection claim, but it can be worth it if it puts money back in your wallet when you may need it most. This was not my only trip protection claim. We made a $1,000+ claim when flights were canceled and we got snowed into Colorado around the pricey New Year’s Eve holiday week, also thanks to a Chase card, and also with the same positive resolution.

I highly recommend booking travel using the card in your wallet that confers the best protection or adding a card like that to your wallet if you don’t currently have one that will back you up if things go wrong.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

Featured photo by Roos-Koole for Getty Images.

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