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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Noah, who got massive value from one of his credit card benefits:
My wife and I take one big trip and a few small trips every year. We wanted a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases, along with no foreign transaction fees, lounge access, and most importantly for this story, travel insurance. After a lot of research at the beginning of last year, we determined the Chase Sapphire Reserve best aligns with our wants and needs. A week after getting the card, we booked a big trip to Southeast Asia over the holidays after I found a great business class fare. Over the course of six months, we booked a few regional flights, hotels, tours, etc., and waited excitedly for our adventure.
Fast forward to 10 days before we were supposed to leave: I got a call from my wife saying she was in an accident at work and was headed to the emergency room. She sustained a serious chemical burn to her eye, and we spent five hours there while they flushed out as much as possible. Five days later (on Christmas Eve), a specialist told us we had to cancel our trip. My wife needed to be closely monitored, with appointments every two days for a couple of weeks and possibly surgery. Her health was the top priority, but our hearts sank as we realized our trip was ruined. The only comfort was knowing that we had travel insurance through the Sapphire Reserve.
When we got home from the doctor, I called customer service and spent the next couple of hours asking questions and filing a claim — I was advised to do this as soon as possible, since you need to contact travel suppliers within 48 hours of a doctor determining travel is not medically permitted. I spent the following weeks getting the proper paperwork filled out by doctors, talking for countless hours on the phone with Chase and the insurance representatives, and gathering all the information I needed to submit.
And the results? After two months, my wife is expected to make a full recovery and we are about to leave on our (doctor approved) adventure to Southeast Asia thanks to our Sapphire Reserve benefits. While many travel suppliers were willing to issue a refund after we provided a doctor’s letter, not all of them agreed. In those instances, the travel insurance cut us a check to make us whole. To put it into perspective, the amount we recovered could pay the $450 annual fee for our card for almost a decade! Fingers crossed that I never have to use it again, but I am glad I have it for peace of mind.
‘Travel insurance’ encompasses a variety of benefits, ranging from baggage delay protection and emergency evacuation coverage to the trip cancellation protection Noah used. When a covered event (like illness, injury or weather) keeps you from traveling as planned, this benefit can reimburse you for non-refundable expenses like flights or pre-paid hotel reservations. The Sapphire Reserve card offers coverage up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip (with a cap of $40,000 in any 12-month period). As Noah points out, you hope to never need cancellation protection, but the strength of the Sapphire Reserve coverage compared to other travel rewards cards is an underappreciated reason to use it for travel purchases.
Like most credit card benefits, you’ll need to abide the rules and restrictions for your claim to be approved. Apart from needing to act quickly after receiving a doctor’s advice not to travel, you’ll have limited time to file a written claim, and you’ll likely need to include abundant supporting documentation. In short, the claims process isn’t simple, but as Noah’s story shows, it should still be worthwhile if you’re facing significant losses.
Credit card travel insurance is convenient because you don’t have to sign up for it independently — the benefit applies so long as you use your card to pay for your trip and meet the other requirements. However, it’s worth considering whether your coverage is a good fit for your plans. If your trip doesn’t qualify for protection (for example, if it’s more than 60 days in duration) or if you’re traveling with a large group and worried about running up against coverage limits, you may want to invest in travel insurance independent from whatever protection is attached to your card.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Noah a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured photo by Shutterstock
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- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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