Does Credit Card Travel Insurance Cover Visa Problems?

Jul 4, 2019

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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

There are so many moving parts involved in an international trip. While many — like the flight and hotel reservations — are mostly within our control, the visa process is not. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to have to cancel or change their travel plans if they encounter issues with obtaining a visa. TPG reader Adam wants to know if this is covered by the travel insurance perks offered on many top travel rewards credit cards …

I booked a trip to Australia with my Chase Sapphire Reserve and they weren’t able to issue me a visa. Would this qualify for the trip cancellation/interruption insurance?

TPG READER ADAM

I can’t even imagine the disappointment of having your dream trip lined up only to have to cancel it when your visa application gets denied. Unfortunately, travel insurance will almost certainly not cover you for an event like this. Having the proper documentation needed to travel is up to you and not something Chase assumes responsibility for — even on a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

I spoke to a Chase benefits administrator on the phone who confirmed that the only events that trigger the trip cancellation/interruption insurance are the following (which you can find in Chase’s benefits guide):

  • Accidental Bodily Injury, Loss of Life, or Sickness experienced by you, a Traveling Companion, or an Immediate Family Member of you or a Traveling Companion
  • Severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a Covered Trip
  • Change in military orders for you, your Spouse, or your Domestic Partner
  • A terrorist action or hijacking
  • A call to jury duty or receiving a subpoena from the courts, neither of which can be postponed or waived
  • Finding your or your Traveling Companion’s dwelling to be uninhabitable
  • Quarantine imposed by a Physician for health reasons
  • Financial insolvency of the Travel Agency, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier whose services you booked

While it’s probably to late for Adam to recoup any of the costs of this trip, there’s an important lesson to be learned moving forward. Many countries don’t require proof of travel during the visa application process. Most US citizens traveling to Australia for 90 days or less will apply for an Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which doesn’t even ask you the dates you plan on traveling — let alone your complete flight itinerary. For just AU$20 (~US$14), you can snag an ETA that’s valid for up to 12 months from the date of issue, making this a low-cost way to ensure you have the property permissions to enter Australia before finalizing your travel plans.

Obviously the policies vary from country to country and depend on the type of visa you need, but whenever possible, you should seek to apply for the visa before you book your nonrefundable flights. And if you’re jumping on a deal alert, try to investigate what you need to enter your destination country as soon as you book, as most carriers and online travel agencies will allow fee-free cancellations within 24 hours of booking if it turns out that you wouldn’t be able to get a visa.

Bottom Line

Credit card travel insurance will not cover you if you have to cancel or otherwise change your trip due to a rejected or forgotten visa. It’s your responsibility to make sure you have all the necessary documentation in line before your trip, so don’t make the mistake of glossing over this important detail and only focusing on flights and hotels.

Thanks for the question, Adam, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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