Was it only four months ago that I questioned whether trip insurance was worth the cost? The world was a different place back then, wasn’t it?
Over the past two months, most of us have learned more than we ever wanted to know about insuring our adventures. When we buy a policy, we usually look at the summary of benefits–how much coverage is offered for trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical expenses, lost luggage etc. But how many of us take the time to read the exclusions? Let’s face it, it isn’t easy to get to the exclusion section, let alone the complete policy.
Even if you do decide to try to read the policy on line, it is likely that you will have to click through several screens to get there. Once you arrive, you will find that the list of exclusions is fairly universal among travel insurers. They include things like attempted suicide or other self inflicted harm, criminal acts, pre-existing conditions (unless certain specified rules are followed) AND something that never concerned me before — epidemics.
I have never purchased the more expensive “cancel for any reason” policies so I can’t speak to what those exclusions would be. I assume that it wouldn’t matter. If your spouse was incarcerated for robbing a bank, I imagine you could say that you are canceling because you just didn’t want to go on the trip. But we have no plans to test out my hypothesis.
Right now, so many flight and trip cancellations are truly putting the travel industry under tremendous strain. What happens when the travel company cancels the trip? When an airline cancels your flight? When you cancel and then a few weeks (or days) later, everything is cancelled? What if you cancel far enough in advance that the travel company’s policy is to give you your money back less a change charge, but the company changes their policy? What if the company doesn’t survive? We are all slowly learning the answers to those questions.
But enough of the anxiety provoking questions. Time for some good news and some praise for a company. For the first time ever, I decided to rely on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to cover our trip insurance needs. Because the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a rather significant annual charge of $550, (an increase of $100 from when I originally bought it)I had never considered trading in my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (no fee, probably because I had owned that card for more than 15 years, well before they started charging $90 per year). What changed my mind was a post in the Overseas Adventure Travel Forum. One of the posters alerted me to the fact that the Reserve card credits back $300 if you spend that amount on travel, something that we easily do, most years. So, the net cost for the card is actually $200 per year. We clearly could never get trip insurance for $100 per person, per year, so it was time to look a little more carefully at the plan provisions.
Because we have an excellent Medicare supplement, I wasn’t concerned about the skimpy medical coverage of $2,500. It would more than cover any deductible or copay from our Medicare supplement carrier. It also offered $100,000 in emergency evacuation and transportation not already covered by our Medicare Supplement. I also wasn’t concerned about replacement for lost luggage. I never check anything valuable anyway. What REALLY interested me was trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.
After reviewing the provisions, I felt comfortable that this plan offers coverage as good as I would get elsewhere. The exclusions were standard, but it did have annual maximum benefits of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per trip (since it is only my husband and me, that works) and a maximum payment of $40,000 per year. Our travel expenses easily fit within those parameters. And if it appears that we would be exceeding those amounts, I would simply purchase a supplemental policy. As noted in my prior post, I had always purchased trip insurance from insuremytrip.com and had been pleased with the results. Our cost for very good coverage ranged from $250 per person to a high of $500 per person, which was significantly less expensive than what was offered by the travel company. Still, $0.00 per person seemed like a better deal to me, and that was what we relied upon to cover our costs for our planned Morocco trip the end of March.
In early March, we learned that my husband had a medical condition that was not life threatening, but needed attention, so we canceled. Two weeks later, our travel provider canceled all March and April departures, offering credits toward a future trip. Because our reason for canceling was not due to the epidemic, we were able to get a complete refund from our Chase insurance. And, because treatment has been delayed, I canceled a subsequent trip in June, and the cancellation penalty has also been refunded.
So what do I have to say about my experience with Chase Sapphire Reserve’s vendor, Allianz? Nothing but high praise. Claims can be submitted through their website, by regular mail or by email. The process is EASY and it was FAST. It only took two weeks from the time we submitted the physician’s statement until the time I had my check in hand. Pretty amazing given what has been going on in the travel insurance world.
So, my earlier advice still stands. Do your research, know what you need, and what you are buying when you are able to travel again. I hope it will be soon!
6 thoughts on “Trip Insurance Update”
This is great information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Although I’m sure we would balk initially at the annual fee (our mere mortal Chase card is free), the coverage they offer for travelers seems to balance that out. IF we ever get to travel again, we’ll look into it. Thanks for the tip!
I’m with you—i never considered paying so much for something that I could have for free, until I read the post in the forum and learned about the $300 rebate, so I checked it out. The 3X points for travel expenses and restaurants and the trip insurance were all big plusses, AND they can transfer points to certain airlines and hotels, so that it is like having that vendor’s card—well, that did it for me.
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Great Post! Thank you. I had purchased my ticket to Barcelona in September and never thought about the possibility of a pandemic. I was in Italy at the time and a good friend was going to do the last 100 km of the Camino de Santiago. I even purchased trip cancelation insurance through AA with Allianz as it was only $18 US. As the word spread on Coronavjrus I also found out that pandemics were excluded Fortunately AA canceled the trip which was scheduled for March 31 so did not have to cancel. All hotels were booked with cancelation provisions, so all was well. I had read all the exclusions prior to purchasing the insurance but now know that pandemics are rarely covered. My round trip nonstop flight from MIA to BCN was only $438 I took the credit, I will see if I can get the price refunded to my card.
I’m glad everything worked out for you, Greg. Who would have thought
Shelley, as you and everyone else on the planet know, the COVID-19 crisis has thrown all travel into total chaos. And even with all the uncertainties and the “new normal”, your final recommendation still applies: “Do your research, know what you need, and what you are buying when you are able to travel again.”
We’ve never been big on purchasing travel insurance, and I think the only real option that I’d consider going forward is the Cancel-for-any-reason coverage, and even then, I would research and absolutely know what I’m buying. Sadly, we have about $4000 invested in plane tickets that we will probably eventually lose, so we’re we’re shell-shocked like everyone else. But again, your post is right on and good advice for future travelers. ~James
Thanks James, that means a lot, coming from an experienced traveler like you. I hope you are made whole by the airlines. $4,000 is a lot to lose!
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