Think that free trip insurance is all you need? Think again

Is free trip insurance good enough?

When Monique Tubb’s adult daughter injured herself while vacationing in Colorado, she canceled the rest of her trip. Tubb was confident that her UnitedPlus Explorer card’s free trip insurance would cover all the additional expenses.

It didn’t. And now Tubb wants to know why the insurance company hasn’t paid her full claim.

Tubb’s story shows why you should not assume that all trip insurance policies are created equal. They aren’t — and free trip insurance can be exceptionally “unequal.”

“My adult daughter fell and tore both ACLs during our recent family trip,” Tubb explains. “The doctor advised her to fly home early to see her own doctor.”

Tubb’s daughter and her husband paid the change fee and the increased cost of their tickets, spending $724. They flew home, where she soon had surgery to repair the damage to her knees.

What does a  free trip insurance policy cover?

Since Tubb had paid for the entire trip with her MileagePlus Explorer card, she didn’t think she needed to purchase additional insurance. She knew she had the free trip insurance policy offered from her credit card covering the trip. And when the accident occurred, she assumed the policy would cover her daughter’s $724.

“Purchasing with this card means Chase includes a free trip insurance policy,” she wrote. “I filed an insurance claim, and after providing all requested information, they refunded only $297. But my daughter and her husband spent an additional $427 to get home. Where is the rest of my reimbursement?”

When the credit card company refused her full payment, she contacted our advocacy team.

I reviewed the paper trail and the terms of this free trip insurance policy. And it was clear that Tubb had an inflated view of what this benefit included.

Tubb had received approval for the maximum eligible benefit under the terms of the policy.

The fine print

Chase Bank’s website list the terms of this policy. It is a lengthy document, but the information that Tubb needed to understand about her free trip insurance is there:

If a Trip Interruption occurs, the company will reimburse you for up to the maximum benefit amount of ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars for: the forfeited, nonrefundable pre-paid land, air and/or sea transportation arrangements that were missed.

There is no mention of covering any additional costs that may be incurred during a trip interruption. The policy only covers prepaid items.

The $297 represented the change fee on the original airline tickets. By reimbursing Tubb’s daughter and her husband for the change fee to those tickets, this free trip insurance policy paid out the full benefit. Her daughter and her husband had not prepaid for any other parts of the trip.

But Tubb felt that the policy should cover the new tickets that the couple purchased.

The free trip insurance that’s offered by Chase is a basic policy. It does not include many types of expenses that a more comprehensive policy purchased directly through a trip insurance company would cover.

Determine if you need to purchase trip insurance

A website such as  InsureMyTrip can help travelers determine if purchasing insurance is a better option than relying on their credit card’s free trip insurance. There, it is possible to make a side-by-side comparison of various types of trip insurance policies based on the traveler’s specifics.

Looking at some of the policies that are offered for domestic vacations for a family of four, for about $100, companies such as Allianz and Travelex, among others, offer trip insurance that includes trip interruption coverage. Such a policy does cover expenses incurred to get you back home.

For example, the language in the Allianz policy specifically spells out that the policy:

Reimburses you for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home due to a covered reason.

Unfortunately for Tubb, the last part of that sentence is missing from her policy. And that is why her case ends up in the Case Dismissed file.

We could not help Tubb in her quest to receive further reimbursement for her daughter. The terms of her policy are clear and do not provide for the expenses that she requested.

The bottom line

When you plan a vacation, domestic or international, make sure to consider whether you need a trip insurance policy.

If you choose to rely on your credit card’s free trip insurance policy, make sure that you are familiar with its coverage so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises such as the one Tubb received.

As always, it’s important to read the fine print on these documents. Don’t assume that the policy covers you for something that is not explicitly spelled out in your contract. Because if it isn’t written into the contract, you can be sure the insurance company isn’t paying for it.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

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Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

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Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

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Underwritten by Virtuoso

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Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

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Underwritten by MedjetAssist

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Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

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Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

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Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

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Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

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