Travel insurance covered my $660 bill when a flight was canceled

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  • My family was returning from Paris to Milan this summer when our flight was abruptly cancelled.
  • I remembered that I had travel delay benefits through my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so we stayed close.
  • It took some effort, but I managed to get the entire $660 bill paid by my card.
  • Get a free travel insurance quote with SquareMouth

Anyone who has flown this year has no doubt witnessed or experienced the general state of disarray that has overwhelmed airlines and airports around the world. Notorious issues include security lines at the gate, canceled flights, and checked bags that seem to disappear into a cosmic black hole.

When these issues affect your travel plans, the result can be hundreds of dollars in unforeseen costs. But as my experience shows, a travel insurance policy can give you a facelift.

Stuck in Paris

Paris is not a cheap city, but we had an affordable plan to detour there during our visit to Italy this summer. In fact, my family of five was able to buy return tickets from Milan to Paris on European discount carrier easyJet for 357 euros (a little more in USD). It’s just 71 euros each, an incredible bargain.

The flight to Paris was uneventful, but our return flight to Milan was abruptly canceled just before boarding. We were told the reason was the availability of the crew and that we could use their mobile app to quickly book our 7:00 p.m. flight to a 6:00 a.m. flight the next day.

However, easyJet staff were unable to help us find a hotel. On my own I found a nearby Hyatt where I could use my loyalty points to stay. But on our way to the hotel shuttle, we noticed a Sheraton hotel in the terminal, with a nice restaurant. It was around then that I realized I had purchased these tickets on my Chase Sapphire Reserve which included trip delay insurance as a cardholder benefit.

After confirming the availability of two rooms at the Sheraton, we made the decision to stay there to stay closer to the airport and request a refund later. And since meals were also covered by my card’s travel delay compensation, we treated ourselves to one last French dinner.

Claiming the travel insurance benefit took months

Our side trip to Paris was in mid-June, but not wanting to deal with the paperwork while on vacation, I waited until early July to collect the documentation and file my claim. I filed the claim on July 5 on the eclaimsonline.com website, submitting all the documents I had, including my receipts for the purchase of the flight, and the hotel and meal expenses incurred.

And although the site promised that the documentation would be reviewed within five days, there was also a disclaimer that it was “currently experiencing longer than normal complaint processing times”. This warning always appears in October, so someone might want to re-evaluate their definition of “normal”.

I was advised on July 18 that they needed additional documentation, including the nature of the cancellation and the passenger’s relationship to me, the cardholder.

I replied indicating that the passengers were my wife and three children, and that the cancellation was due to the availability of the crew. On August 17, I received a response saying in part: “We attempted to verify that there had been a common carrier delay and its cause, on your behalf. However, our investigation was unsuccessful. Please provide a copy of the common carrier’s declaration of delay.”

I then made several calls to easyJet and found out why the benefits administrator was unable to get a statement. I spoke to several people at easyJet but none emailed me a statement while I spoke to them. I only received broken promises that I would receive a statement in two to three days. But two weeks later, on August 26, I was surprised to receive an email from easyJet stating that our flight had been “cancelled due to crew issues”.

After forwarding this statement to the benefits administrator, my application was finally approved. A check for the cost of our two hotel rooms and a dinner, $661.27, was issued on September 9 and mailed to me. I received it and dropped it off on September 20, exactly three months after our flight was cancelled.

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Lessons learned

Trip delay insurance offered by cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are valuable perks. Not only did it cover the cost of our hotel rooms and meals when our flight was cancelled, but knowing we had this benefit allowed us to choose more convenient accommodation and enjoy better meals only if we were not going to be reimbursed.

However, you need to be persistent to claim these benefits. I had to submit receipts for the flight purchase, expenses incurred and copies of credit card statements for both. But the hardest part was getting a statement from the airline itself. Once I received the statement, however, it seemed like the key to finally getting my money back, three months after the flight was cancelled.

The effort was well worth the $661 benefit I received, and I’m sure my next travel insurance claim will be a little easier now that I know all the required documents.

About Juana Jackson

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