Carry Your Trip Insurance Info When You Travel

One of the main reasons I got an airline credit card was because it came with multiple forms of travel insurance.

(That, and the free checked bags.)

However, when I found myself stuck in Chicago overnight thanks to flight delays and missed connections, I realized that I didn’t really know the details of my travel insurance plan.

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I knew my credit card came with trip delay insurance, but I didn’t know how the insurance worked. Did I need to get permission from my credit card before I booked a hotel room? Would my insurance only cover costs up to a certain dollar value? Was there a limit on how much I could put towards individual line items like meals, transportation, and lodging?

I knew the information was probably online somewhere, but it was 11 p.m. and I’d been traveling since 7 a.m. two time zones ago, so I poked around the credit card website on my phone, searched my email (maybe they’d sent me the details as a PDF?), and then gave up and booked a room for the night, hoping it would all work out.

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When I got back home, I pulled my credit card travel insurance brochure out of the cubby in which it had been neatly filed—thank goodness I hadn’t thrown it away—and learned that my flight delay needed to be in excess of 12 hours before I would be entitled to any reimbursement.

Since I agreed to take the next available flight out of Chicago, I arrived at my home airport 11 hours and 46 minutes behind schedule.

If I’d known I wouldn’t make the cutoff for reimbursement, I might have elected to stay at a super-cheap airport hotel instead of the mid-range hotel I chose. I might also have elected to take a later flight instead of the first one I could board; nothing in the fine print prevents that, though I could see the insurance company arguing that I should have grabbed the earlier option.

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I’m still going to file for the reimbursement, just to see what happens, but I’m anticipating it’ll be denied.

I’m also going to pack my travel insurance information in my carry-on (or, if it arrives via PDF, stored to my phone) on all future trips. That way, if I find myself in a similar situation, I’ll have the tools I need to make more informed choices.

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