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TravelHow Chase Sapphire travel insurance saved my family over $1,500

How Chase Sapphire travel insurance saved my family over $1,500


Planning a dream vacation is always exciting. But no matter how carefully you plot out the details, sometimes life throws a wrench in the works.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened on a recent trip that I took with my family earlier this year. Luckily, my Chase Sapphire Reserve® and its travel protections came to the rescue right when we needed them, saving us over $1,500 all told.

Here’s what happened and how we were able to leverage my card’s benefits to avoid losing a lot of money.

Planning our dream vacation … then canceling it

Elephant roaming in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. LUIS DANVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

In February, my husband, our son and I were all set for an incredible safari adventure. We were going to stay at the Retreats at Sayari in Tanzania, where lions, cheetahs and elephants are often spotted roaming freely around the area. After that, we planned to end the trip with a few days of relaxation at Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels and Resorts — a luxury hotel on the Seychelles’ largest island, Mahe.

We had been planning our trip for months, figuring out the logistics and how to save the most money on such a grand journey. We booked our flights using my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card and redeemed some of our Ultimate Rewards points to reduce the cost of the trip.

Redeeming the points directly through Chase Travel℠ at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece completely covered the cost of our three tickets on a Kenya Airways hopper flight from Nairobi to the Seychelles.

We also transferred some of our leftover points to Qatar Airways Avios and used them to book a portion of our trip in the airline’s luxurious business-class QSuites; we paid the balance on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Despite using points for part of the journey, the out-of-pocket expense was still several thousand dollars.

Qatar Qsuites business class Boeing 777-300. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

With everything squared away, we eagerly counted down the months and days until our trip. However, just one day before our departure, our son came down with the flu. Traveling with our sick child was out of the question, especially on a complicated itinerary like this, where we may not be able to seek medical care easily if we needed it.

So, with heavy hearts, we canceled the entire trip. While we managed to get our money and points back for the flights, the airlines hit us with cancellation fees. We had to pay $327 to Kenya Airways and $1,080 for two tickets on Qatar Airways, totaling just over $1,500 in fees. The third Qatar Airways ticket was booked on another card and it was fully refundable, so we didn’t have to worry. Still, ouch.

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Benefits of Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel insurance

Feeling the sting of those fees, I decided to explore the travel insurance benefits provided by my Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card offers a plethora of protections that many cardholders, myself included, often overlook. But they can come in handy for situations like mine, and that’s exactly what they’re intended for.

Here are some of the travel protections of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, specifically.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

This benefit covers up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for nonrefundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or interrupted due to sickness, severe weather and other covered situations. As with any type of insurance, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure that your trip and circumstances will be eligible.

Trip delay reimbursement

This covers expenses like meals and lodging if your travel is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay for a covered reason.

Baggage delay insurance

This type of insurance reimburses you for essential purchases such as clothes or toiletries if your baggage is delayed more than six hours.

Lost luggage reimbursement

This protection will reimburse you up to $3,000 per person per covered trip if your luggage is lost or damaged. Note that certain items like electronics and jewelry are not covered.

Travel and emergency assistance services

This service provides legal and medical referrals or other travel assistance when you encounter problems away from home. This service does not cover the cost of these services, but you will have help finding them.

Emergency medical and dental benefit

This benefit reimburses travelers up to $2,500 for medical expenses if you or an immediate family member get sick or injured 100 miles or more from home.

My experience filing a Chase Sapphire travel insurance claim

MOMO PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES

After brushing up on these benefits, I figured my situation should be eligible for the card’s trip interruption and cancellation benefit. I decided to file a claim for the $1,500 in airline cancellation fees.

Filing a trip interruption and cancellation claim with Chase was straightforward in my case, but it required patience, persistence and diligence (and we have had reports of issues dealing with Eclaims from readers in the past).

I used the online form available through the Eclaims Line website. The form asked for detailed information about our trip, including:

  • The reason for the cancellation
  • Our flight itineraries
  • Medical records
  • Receipts of expenses
  • The airlines’ cancellation clauses for our tickets

After submitting my initial claim, I had several back-and-forth calls and emails with Chase; the company requested additional documents and clarifications, such as written proof of the airlines’ cancellation policies, documentation of the cancellation fees I had paid and more. While this part of the process was time-consuming, I knew it was important to be thorough and responsive to expedite the approval.

And just remember that there are time limits on when you can submit a claim. With Chase Sapphire Reserve’s trip interruption and cancellation insurance, you have to contact Eclaims within 20 days of your trip cancellation to have the chance of being covered.

Finally, after a couple of months of providing the necessary documentation and answering follow-up questions, we received approval for our claim. In the meantime, we covered the cancellation fees by putting them on our Chase Sapphire Reserve.

I started the claim process around Feb. 15. In the first week of May, about 78 days later, $1,507 was directly deposited into our bank account. The relief was immense. Knowing that we had this safety net gave us peace of mind and softened the blow of our canceled trip.

Key takeaways for travelers

PIXDELUXE/GETTY IMAGES

Here’s what I learned from my experience using the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s trip interruption and cancellation coverage and what other travelers should remember in case they ever need to invoke it.

Know your benefits

Familiarize yourself with your credit card’s travel protections. Many premium credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, come with robust insurance benefits that can save you significant money if things go wrong.

Keep documentation handy

When planning a trip, save all receipts, itineraries and correspondence. This will make filing a claim smoother and ensure you have all the documentation you’re likely to need handy.

Be patient and persistent

The claims process can be lengthy and require multiple documentation submissions. Stay organized and respond promptly to any requests from the insurance provider.

Start your claim as soon as possible

If you encounter an issue that your card’s travel insurance might cover, file a claim quickly. The potential savings can be substantial, and you don’t want to lose out on any money by missing the claim submission time window.

Bottom line

While we were disappointed to miss our safari and Seychelles getaway, the silver lining was discovering just how valuable the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel insurance can be. It saved us more than $1,500 and provided a safety net that turned a potentially major financial hit into a manageable situation.

So, next time you’re booking a trip, consider the peace of mind that comes with knowing a reliable travel insurance policy protects you.

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