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Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – one of those things that you hope to never have to use, but it’s great to have if you ever need it.

And for many (myself included), COVID-19 laid waste to even the best travel plans.

I recently had to cancel a trip before we left, and a large portion of it was booked using AIR MILES – 2 flights and a car rental. I got a full refund on the car rental, but not the flights.

But thanks to my , I was able to get the miles, taxes, and fees back thanks to the included trip cancellation insurance. These flights cost a total of $1,282 at the time of booking.

How did I do it? What goes into making a successful claim with credit card travel insurance?

Here’s everything I did to get my money back.

What is covered by trip cancellation insurance?

First, what’s covered by trip cancellation insurance? Every insurance certificate’s going to be slightly different, but by and large the list of reasons is quite similar.

For the , here are the reasons you can be covered for trip cancellation insurance.

BMO AIR MIELS World Elite trip cancellation
It’s a sizable list of reasons and covers many reasons why you wouldn’t be able to go on your trip.

Related: 17 Types of Credit Card Insurance (You May Not Know About)

What is not covered by travel insurance?

So what isn’t covered? Besides reasons that just aren’t on the list, there’s one big stipulation: you aren’t covered for circumstances which you were aware of at the time of booking your trip.

If you were aware of something that might be a potential issue, you probably won’t be able to make a successful claim.

And, in order to be covered by credit card travel insurance, you have to pay for the trip in full using your credit card, or with rewards points associated with the credit card. If you used another credit card that didn’t have the insurance, you won’t get any coverage.

Steps I took for a successful trip cancellation claim

So how did I make a successful claim? Here’s all the steps I took to make sure I got my money (and miles) back.

1. Read your insurance certificate

COVID-19 was looking like it could be problematic a couple of weeks before we left. In case something came up, I read my insurance certificate so I knew if I would be covered, and what I would have to do to make sure I could claim my coverage.

For trip cancellation, I had to cancel my flight before it was scheduled to leave, and to call the insurance company within 48 hours.

How to make a trip cancellation claim
I did call the operations centre within 48 hours, but due to the volume of calls they were receiving, they extended that and gave people 30 days to call them to start a claim. I had a hard time getting through at the time, but a week later I called and was successful in getting through.

2. Make sure you’re covered for a valid reason

More than just following the rules, you obviously need a covered reason to cancel your flight.

And 3 days before I was scheduled to leave, the Government Of Canada released this travel advisory:

travel-advisory

3. Contact the insurance company as stated in the insurance certificate

Once the travel advisory was in effect, I went to work to cancel my travel plans. It took me 2 days and many attempts to get through to AIR MILES, but the day before we were scheduled to leave I was able to get through and cancel my plans.

The next day, I then tried calling the insurance company. After being on hold for a while, an automated response came on and told me that I had 30 days to contact them to start my claim. I called a few days later and was able to get through and start my claim.

What happened during this call? I had to give them the following information:

  • the type of credit card I had, and the last 4 digits of my card,
  • who was travelling, and their relationship to me,
  • the amount I was claiming, both in AIR MILES and cash I paid,
  • the reason I had to cancel my trip, and
  • they asked for verbal confirmation I actually cancelled the trip.

I was then sent an email with my claim form partially filled out, a list of the documentation I had to provide, and a claim number if i needed to call back with any questions.

Credit card insurance contact numbers

Need to contact your credit card’s insurance company? Here are the numbers to call for the major issuers in Canada.

Credit Card Issuer Phone Number
American Express 1-800-243-0198
BMO 1-877-704- 0341
CIBC 1-866-363-3338
National Bank 1-888-235-2645
RBC 1-800-533-2778
Scotiabank 1-877-711-8286
TD 1-866-374-1129

4. Gather all required documentation

With that email received, I started gathering all the documentation I needed to provide, which included:

  • original receipts for the trip from AIR MILES,
  • credit card statements showing the original purchase, and another showing any refunds I received,
  • a screenshot of the Government of Canada website, showing the travel advisory, with the appropriate date, and
  • proof that I cancelled the trip.

Everything I needed to provide was listed in the cancellation form.

5. Submit the claim within the time frame given

I had 90 days to submit my claim. The process to submit was simple and I had a specific email address to send everything to.

The only document I had difficulty in obtaining was proof that I cancelled the flights. I asked AIR MILES about this when I cancelled, and they said I would just be able to go Air Canada’s site, and look up my reservation, and it would show that it was cancelled.

It didn’t work, I only got errors trying to look it up. I had to call Air Canada and got them to send me confirmation I had cancelled my flight.

After sending all of that in, I did receive a call from the insurance company to go over everything and answer a couple of questions, but the actual submission was a fairly painless process.

How I got back 9,818 AIR MILES and $320 in taxes and fees

There were a lot of phone calls with waiting time, but in the end I got the cost of the flights back in my hands.

It really is a matter of reading the insurance certificate, and following the steps they outlined in making the claim.

Those 2 flights I booked cost 9,818 AIR MILES, as well as $320 in taxes and fees. If I had to pay for them, at the time they would have cost me $1,282. I have that back in my pocket, and I’ll now be able to use them for future travel rewards, instead of them being lost.

What I could have done differently

Is there anything I could have done differently? Not really, but I did get lucky on the travel advisory.

The original date doesn’t always stick to the Government Of Canada’s travel advisories, and they can always just show an updated date.

When I went to look on the site, they still had the original date the advisory went into place, so it was easy to screenshot the page. Otherwise, I would have had to contact the government to get the original date the advisory went into effect.

What tips do I have after going through the process?

As tedious (and boring) as it might be to read, everything starts with the insurance certificate. It tells you everything you need to do to make a successful claim. If you don’t have it, most issuers have them available for download online, or you can call your issuer and ask them to send you one.

Another tip is to clearly record the cause of your cancellation. As soon as you have a valid reason, take a screenshot on your phone or a computer right away, as it will save you the hassle of getting this information later on.

Pro tip: A great tool to take full-page screenshots is by using FireShot. In the press of one button, you can take a screenshot that captures the entire web-page, just not what is in view. You can get it for Chrome, FireFox, and Microsoft Edge, as well as many other browsers.

10 credit cards with the best trip cancellation insurance coverage

So what credit cards offer trip cancellation insurance? Here’s our listing of the 10 best credit cards that offer it, and the maximum amount they cover for an individual.

Credit Card Trip Cancellation Coverage Trip Interruption Coverage
$2,500 $2,500
$2,500 $2,000
$2,500 $2,000
$2,500 $5,000
$2,500 $5,000
$1,500 $1,500
$1,500 $2,000
$2,500 $2,500
$1,500 $5,000
$1,500 $5,000

Is your credit card not there? There’s an easy way to find out if your card has it – and not by going through your insurance certificate.

We have a page for every credit card in our database. Simply search for your card here and go to the “Insurance coverage” tab.

Here is an example, for the :

Insurance coverage for the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
Just note we list the coverage amount for 1 person, not the maximum coverage the card offers.

Related: Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards In Canada For 2020

The bottom line

Is a premium card worth getting for the travel insurance alone? If you travel once per year, especially on rewards points, the answer is yes. You never know when something might come up, and insurance will be there to either provide a refund or help cover additional costs.

For me, a $120 annual fee has paid itself several times over now, and is also far cheaper than if I had paid for insurance on the trip.

The best travel deals you find are often restrictive, and don’t allow refunds. This is especially true if you book using reward points, so having a credit card with insurance associated with the program will give you insurance you would otherwise have to pay for.

What are your thoughts on credit card insurance?

Is it worth it, do you have any stories to share?

Let us know in the comments below.

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions on trip cancellation insurance.

Is trip cancellation insurance worth it?

Generally speaking, if you tend to book travel with rewards, or book discounted rates that don’t allow for cancellations, you’ll be able to get your money or rewards back if you have to cancel for a covered reason.

How much is trip cancellation insurance?

If it’s included with a credit card, there’s no additional cost for having the insurance. It’s included as part of the annual fee. If it’s purchased separately as part of a trip, the price depends on many factors, including the overall cost of the trip and the travellers’ ages.

What is not covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance doesn’t provide coverage for known events at the time of booking. You also won’t receive coverage if the full cost wasn’t charged to the credit card.