Think your travel credit card trip interruption travel insurance will cover you if a medical emergency prevents you returning home on your return flight? Think again--you may well be out of pocket for all your extra flight costs, plus any other expenses you incur. TravelSort reader Michael writes (emphasis mine):
"I booked airfare and lodging for a trip to Israel, all on my Citibank MasterCard Platinum card, World Elite. We were due to fly home Sat April 11. On Friday April 10, my 15 year old daughter had a horrible nose bleed (burst blood vessel), that required ambulance transfer to a hospital Emergency Room, four days in hospital in Jerusalem, and then 5 extra days for my wife and daughter to stay in Jerusalem because our daughter was not medically authorized to fly home.
I incurred change fees from Turkish Airlines for first round of “changes” ( Sat to Tuesday) and while I flew home Tuesday, I had to pay change fees again to Turkish Airlines to move my wife and daughter to following Saturday. Approx. $1,000 total in flight change fees, plus another $1,000 in lodging and food.
I filed a claim, and was denied. Citibank’s insurance carrier said this was not an “interruption” in our vacation but an “extension” and therefore not covered. I am appealing, as there is no definition of “interruption” on their website, and every other aspect of my claim appears valid per the terms and conditions."
First, my sympathy to this reader and his family for this stressful and unexpected end to their trip to Israel. I hope his daughter has completedly recovered. Here are my thoughts on his question of trip interruption benefits:
Does Credit Card Trip Interruption Insurance Apply When a Return Date is Postponed Due to a Medical Emergency?
You would think that trip interruption insurance applies throughout your trip, including a medical emergency or other covered event that prevents you from taking your return flight home.
That said, let's look at the Trip Interruption terms. Now, I don't have this reader's terms and conditions, but I do have a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, and based on the terms I see for my card, unfortunately the reader's later return home would NOT be covered. Here's why:
- Trip Completion Date is defined as "the date you are scheduled to return to the Return Destination"
- Term of Coverage: Coverage begins on the Trip Departure Date and ends on the Trip Completion Date
The two terms above basically exclude coverage on any date later than the originally planned return date.
Now to be fair to other travel credit cards, when I called Chase Sapphire Preferred's benefits department, they said that their trip interruption benefit (which is actually more generous than the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card's) would apply to a return that was later than the original return date, if it was for a covered reason such as a medical emergency.
That said, I'm still waiting to hear back from an actual claims examiner from Chubb (which provides the insurance benefit for the Chase Sapphire Preferred) to confirm this would be covered and the claim would be approved.
Travel Insurance Covers Prepaid, Non-Refundable Costs, But Not New Costs
Most of my TravelSort Clients who buy travel insurance choose a Travel Guard Gold policy. This policy does cover prepaid, non-refundable costs associated with a later return date, namely the airfare, per the following conditions (bolding mine):
- Extension of Coverage: All coverages except Trip Cancellation and Cancel for Any Reason, will be extended if: a) the Insured's entire Trip is covered by the plan; and b) the Insured's return is delayed by one of the Unforeseen events specified under Trip Cancellation and Interruption or Trip Delay
- Extension of coverage will end on the earlier of: a) the date the Insured reaches his/her Return Destination; or b) 7 days after the date the Trip was scheduled to be completed
As you can see, you don't get an unlimited extension of the policy, but coverage can be extended up to 7 days for a covered reason.
The actual trip interruption benefit for the Travel Guard Gold Plan is up to 150% of the unused, non-refundable trip costs (which in the case of completedly non-refundable airfare would be up to 150% of half of the roundtrip ticket cost, since the outbound has already been used).
That said, in all cases, whether with purchased travel insurance or credit card travel insurance, you won't be able to claim additional expenses spent on lodging, food, etc. that are additional expenses incurred by your postponed return trip. These would have been covered if they were during your original trip and were prepaid, non-refundable expenses (or sometimes as part of the "Trip Delay" benefit) but because they are new expenses in the case of a delayed return home, they are generally not covered.
If you've ever had delay a return trip home, were you covered by travel insurance for any of the costs?