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 realised that I didn’t really know the details of my travel insurance plan.
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 such as meals, transportation and lodging?
I knew the information was probably online somewhere, but it was 11:00PM and I’d been travelling since 7:00AM 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.
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.
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.