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Travel insurance you didn't know you have: Chase Sapphire Card

Posted by David Landsel on Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chase Sapphire Card Travel Insurance

Official contract

Chase Sapphire is justifiably famous for friendly agents answering the phone without the usual "press 1" and "key in your credit card number to speak to an agent." But it also has a pretty solid travel insurance policy that comes free with your card, covering you when you have to cancel a trip due to illness or injury, when a trip is delayed, or when your baggage is lost or delayed. Here is a synopis but check the link above to read all of the fine print.

Trip cancellation

Who is covered?
The cardholder, plus Spouse or Domestic Partner and their children, including adopted children or step-children; legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings-in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews on or before the trip departure date.

What is covered?

A trip that must be canceled before departure  for a covered reason, which is limited to accidental injury, death, or sickness experienced by the card holder or immediate family or traveling companions; severe weather; and for a few other reasons such as unavoidable jury duty. If the trip was arranged with points or miles, you'll be reimbursed with the same number of points or miles you used for the trip. Needless to say, some part of your airline fare must be charged to your Chase Sapphire card. 

What is not covered?

Trip cancellation insurance does not cover you if the airline cancels or changes your flight, unless the cause is severe weather. Pre-existing conditions are excluded. And if you've bought travel insurance elsewhere, you must make a claim on that policy first.

Trip interruption

Trip interruption insurance kicks in after you've departed on your travel and a covered reason "interrupts" your trip.

 What is covered?

Trips interrupted by injuries and sickness are covered unless a pre-existing condition, as is severe weather, but not much else.  Same $5000 in coverage, same immediate family. Your covered trip cannot exceed 60 days in duration.

What is not covered?

Most importantly for air travel, this part of the insurance does not "apply to any…loss caused by or resulting from, directly or indirectly…travel arrangements canceled or changed by [an airline], tour operator or travel agent unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather…" So a mechanical delay appears to be not covered, which is pretty limiting ("Trip Delay" coverage, below, helps a bit with mechanical delays). If the crew "times out" (has worked too many hours and can no longer fly), it's not covered.  Basically, there are about a dozen possible ways your trip could be interrupted besides severe weather that would fall through the cracks.

Trip Delay

Then there's trip delay insurance with this card, which is different apparently than trip interruption insurance. Stick with us now. This is when you've started your trip and your progress is delayed by a covered reason.

What is covered?

A trip that is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay due to equipment failure, weather and labor strikes only. At least some of your fare must be charged to your Sapphire card (many cards require the entire amount to be charged). This is excess coverage (if the airline pays for part of your hotel stay, Chase would pay the rest). Trip delay insurance only applies to round-trip travel.

What is not covered?

Delays caused for any reason other than equipment failure, weather and labor strikes; delays under 12 hours; one-way trips. Also, "pre-paid expenses" are not covered.

 Lost baggage

What is covered?

Up to $3000 if your bag is lost or stolen. It's replacement value minus depreciation (I always wonder how insurance companies calculate depreciation). You need to report the loss or damage immediately (which really means you need to check the contents of your luggage before leaving the airport, which no one ever does, to make sure there's nothing missing) and submit a claim to the airline. Chase will pay up to $3000 but only after the airline has done its part (airlines for domestic U.S. travel cover up to $3400, but it's a lot less if any portion of the trip has been international, so this coverage is much more relevant to international travel). Of that $3000, only $500 can be for electronics and valuables, which airlines don't cover in any case, so at least you get something back. Keep those receipts! You'll need them to file your claim. If the airline denies your claim, or only pays, say, $1000 of a $3000 claim, Chase would presumably step up.

What is not covered?

Any loss over $3000, or over $500 for valuables/electronics.

Delayed baggage

If your baggage is delayed more than six hours, coverage of $100 per day up to five days. It doesn't appear that this coverage is in excess of whatever the airline gives you; it's in addition. You must provide proof of the delay from the airline and submit receipts for any item over $25.

How to file a claim

Call 888-320-9961 or outside the U.S. collect 804-673-1691

Compare cards:

American Express

Citibank Aadvantage Signature card

World MasterCard

Capital One Venture Rewards

United Explorer Visa Platinum card

Related: A new air travel insurance plan covers mishaps that fall through the cracks

Watch out for larceny in the air


Credit Card Travel Insurance: World MasterCard

Posted by David Landsel on Friday, May 30, 2014

Many credit card issuers include built-in travel insurance. It's never as complete as travel insurance you buy from a company like TravelGuard, but it's better than nothing, and it's always in force as long as you charge your trip to the credit card.

The World MasterCard's coverage isn't one of the most extensive in the industry. On the plus side, you have up to 180 days to file a claim for trip cancellation/interruption coverage, so if you've experienced an incident within the last six months but didn't know you had coverage, make a claim.

On the downside, this card's coverage is among the weakest we saw both in terms of who is covered and how much for. There is no coverage for lost bags, just delayed ones. Nor is there coverage for delayed flights, only those you must cancel before travel.

Official contract


Trip cancellation / interruption

What is covered?
Key here is that for trip cancelation/interruption the definition of a "covered loss" is "death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness of the insured

person or an immediate family member of the insured person; or default of the common carrier resulting from financial insolvency. The death, accidental injury, disease, or physical illness must be verified by a physician and must prevent the insured person from traveling on a covered trip. Pre-existing conditions are not covered."

 There is coverage for both trip interruption (defined as a covered event on the way to the airport or after departure) and cancellation (defined as when the insured is prevented from traveling on or before departure).

What is not covered?

There is no coverage, apparently, for trip delays (or if your flight is canceled, or you miss a connecting flight). Weather events and strikes, which are covered by some other credit cards, are not covered by this policy, making it a weak choice. 

Who is covered?

The cardholder plus spouse and unmarried dependent children are covered. Other cards have a much more extensive list of covered family members.

What's a covered trip?

No longer than 30 days. Also, the entire amount, not just a portion, of the trip (flight) must be charged on the card. Again, weak compared to some cards that cover trips up to 60 days. 

What's the maximum benefit?

For trip cancelation/interruption: $1500. This is a paltry amount compared to some other cards, some of which offer up to $3000 or more.

Baggage delay

$300, $100 per day for three days. But the coverage kicks in after just 4 hours of delay, which is better than some cards. It is "excess insurance" over and above what the airline pays, if anything.

Baggage loss

There appears to be no coverage for lost baggage, just delayed.

How to file a claim

1-800-337-2632 to request a claim form.

Compare other cards:

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Citibank Aadvantage Signature card

American Express

Chase Sapphire Card

United Explorer Visa Platinum card


Watch out for larceny in the air

 A new air travel insurance plan covers mishaps that fall through the cracks

Credit Card Travel Insurance: United Explorer Visa Platinum Card

Posted by David Landsel on Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Many people don't realize it, but their credit cards come with free travel insurance. Even if you didn't buy travel insurance for your last flight, and something happened—a lost bag, delay, or you had to cancel due to illness or accident and lost money as a result, you might have been covered, and even if you've returned home, in some cases you can still make a claim retroactively. It's interesting that credit card companies don't feature this coverage in their advertising much.

The United Explorer Visa Platinum Card offers some of the best benefits of any card, rivaled only by the Chase Sapphire Card.

From what I can tell, you have from 20 days up to a year to file a claim, depending on the type of incident, so if you've suffered a loss within the last 12 months and didn't realize you were covered, see if you're still eligible. This card shines with its industry-leading $10,000 trip cancellation benefit (compared to $1500-$5000 on other cards). Plus, the definition of family and extended family covered is unusually broad under this policy. And it offers a bit more for trip delays than some other cards as well as up to $500 for lost electronics and valuables, compared to from nothing to $250 on others. Check the official contract (below) to see all the fine print.

Official contract

Who is covered?

The list is more extensive than with most other cards: You and immediate family members – spouse, domestic partner and children, including adopted or step children, legal guardians or wards, siblings or siblings-in-law, parents or parents-in-law, grandparents or grandchildren, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews.

What's a covered trip?

Pay for at least a portion of the fare with the card; any trip less than 60 days (this compares favorably to other cards, some of which limit trips to 30 days and require that the entire trip be charged to the card).

Trip cancellation / interruption

What is covered?

Illness, injury, death in the family, severe weather "which presents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a covered trip," military deployment, terrorist action, jury duty or subpoenas, being put into quarantine by a physician, if your tour operator goes bankrupt. Up to $10,000 for each covered trip – for both cancellation and interruption.

What is not covered?

Change in plans, financial circumstances, pre-existing health conditions, war and all sorts of other fun stuff – for instance, if you're going to be "engaged in or participating in a motorized vehicular race or speed contest" shortly before your trip, don't get injured. You won't be covered. But that's industry-standard, even for some third-party travel insurance policies. If the airline cancels your flight, however, or if you you’re your connection, there's no monetary compensation.

Trip Delay

What's covered? 

Covered hazards are: equipment failure, weather and labor strikes. No other cause (and there are dozens of other reasons why flights are delayed) is covered. Up to $500 for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses (hotels, meals, etc.) for a "covered hazard" resulting in a delay of 12 hours or more, or requiring an overnight stay. Excess coverage (so presumably, if the airline gives you a hotel voucher for $100, you must deduct that from payment).

Baggage loss

What's the maximum baggage loss payout?

The benefit covers checked or carry-on luggage up to $3,000 per person (you or immediate family members) but only up to $500 for each insured person for valuables such as jewelry and electronics (airlines don't cover electronics or valuables at all). As is industry standard it doesn't cover loss of documents, cash, tickets, travelers checks or furs.  This is replacement value minus depreciation, as determined by the insurance company. You must report the loss or damage to the carrier immediately and will be asked to provide proof that you submitted a report to the carrier. In other words, see this as a supplemental benefit that kicks in after the airline has done their part. One reason we like the $25 per trip insurance plan offered by AirCare: there's no depreciation, no receipts to file.

Baggage delay

This kicks in after a six-hour delay (some credit cards have a 12-hour delay, as does AirCare) and is intended for the emergency purchase of essential items, should your baggage be delayed or lost. You can get up to $100 per day for a maximum of three days for emergency items, including one cellphone charger cable. Things like contact lenses, glasses and valuables (cameras and such) are not covered. Save those receipts!

How to file a claim

Call 800-419-8027 to speak to a benefit administrator and request a claim form.

See the other articles in this series:

American Express

Chase Sapphire card

World MasterCard

Capital One Venture Rewards


You might also like: Miss Your Connection? Here's $500 from AirCare

Lost Baggage Insurance From American Expresss

Posted by David Landsel on Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hilton HHonors American Express Card

Although American Express has excellent coverage for things you buy other than travel (they pioneered purchase protection, free extended warranties, and loss protection within 90 days of purchase), their travel protections are surprisingly weak.  This card offers no cancellation or delay protection, unlike cards such as the Chase Sapphire card, just baggage loss or damage protection. And the coverage is very weak for checked bags (oddly, it's a lot more for carry-ons, but airlines don't cover carry-ons at all). The limit is $250 for electronics and other valuables.  Coverage is similar for other Amex cards. See the fine print with the link below

Official contract for baggage insurance plan

What's covered

Lost, stolen or damaged baggage – you must file a written report (and show proof of said report) with the carrier before initiating a claim in the case of checked luggage; for carry-on items, there must be a written report filed with a local law enforcement agency.

What's not

There is no luggage delay benefit; the usual no cash, no baggage possessed by a person found to be committing illegal acts, etcetera.

Maximum benefit

For carry-on baggage, up to $1,250 for each covered person. For checked, the benefit maximum is $500. (Bicycles are included, when checked as baggage.) For "high-risk" items – jewelry, electronics – the max is $250 per person, less than, say, the Chase Sapphire card's $500.

Who is covered / not covered?

Cardmembers, immediate family including domestic partners.

How to file a claim

Call 800-645-9700; you have thirty days to file after suffering a loss.

 This new insurance plan offers much better lost/delayed coverage for $25 per trip.

Related: Watch out for larceny in the air

Compare cards:

The Chase Sapphire Card 

More airlines make large passengers buy two seats

Posted by David Landsel on Friday, January 29, 2010

By David Landsel

You’re paying to check your belongings, so why should other people’s excess baggage get a free ride?

That’s the question being asked by a growing number of travelers. As airlines look for new ways to boost revenue, fees for checked bags are on the rise; so is scrutiny of overweight customers whose baggage is built in.

It’s a touchy subject, has found, and one that airlines have been happy to avoid discussing, where possible. As late as 2008, United Airlines wouldn’t even address the matter with us.

But an outcry among passengers, tired of their seatmates taking up more than their fair share of jealously-guarded seat space, is said to have played a role in the airlines’ new rules for transporting “customers of size.” Where a terse “we have no policy” was once the standard response, United adopted new regulations in 2009. Customers who were unable to confine themselves to one seat would be required to buy a second, should the crew be unable to reseat them.

It’s a policy that’s becoming increasingly commonplace.

To many, the idea seems simple enough – if you can’t fit into one seat, you should probably consider buying two.

It’s not simple at all. Canada’s government takes a dim view of the matter. In late 2008, the country’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that prohibited airlines from charging the disabled or “obese” for a second seat, affecting Canadian flyers Air Canada and WestJet.  

Here in the United States, some airlines with upfront policies have spent their fair share of time in the courts. Southwest has long been famously transparent about its second seat rule, the one that United and many other airlines have emulated. The company has been sued more than once by disgruntled passengers.

“On the lawsuits, all have ruled on the side of Southwest,” spokesperson Whitney Eichinger points out.

Southwest’s policy is that those who cannot fit in one seat must buy two.  

 “If the flight goes out with empty seats, Southwest will refund the cost of the additional seat,” Eichinger said.

Other airlines have had their share of legal trouble in this area.  

In the past, Air France warned passengers with what they referred to as “high body mass” not to expect to be seated if they have not purchased an extra seat. This is a warning that many airlines, even those who officially have tried to downplay any official policy, have long given to travelers.

Some travelers, however, don’t see the need. That, or the airline and the passenger disagree over what constitutes “need.” An Air France passenger traveling from New Delhi to Paris in 2006 sitting in a single seat was stopped by employees, who wrapped packing tape around him in public to prove that he was too fat. Citing humiliation, he sued, and won.

At the time, the airline had a program in place that offered passengers a second seat at a 25 percent discount, tax-free. It was a move that the airline had hoped would encourage customers to make arrangements in advance.

Last week, Air France made an update to the policy, bringing it more in line with Southwest’s policy, which has been around for decades. According to Air France spokesperson Karen Gillo, the second seat purchase is still optional. Now, however, the cost will be reimbursed if the flight is not fully booked.  

“It’s a way to encourage individuals to pre-plan to ensure their own comfort and safety; it allows them to travel with less stress,” she said.

Gillo stated that “for the mass majority of the cases, the flights aren’t fully booked” and passengers will be reimbursed.

Air France isn’t the only one making tweaks these days. JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras said the airline is currently working to refine its policy.

Currently, Lleras said, the airline does its best to accommodate customers free of charge. It will charge if it has to, but says that it approaches the matter on a “case by case basis.”

“We understand this is a sensitive issue,” he said. “Every time we can accommodate a customer we will.”

Did British Airways go too far to "protect" an unaccompanied minor?

Posted by David Landsel on Thursday, January 21, 2010

One passenger thinks so.

Mirko Fischer probably wasn’t expecting to be singled out as a potential pedophile on his British Airways flight out of London’s Gatwick Airport last April.

Fischer, a businessman who was heading home to Luxembourg with his pregnant wife Stephanie, took his seat on the plane – in the middle of the row, between his significant other and a 12-year-old boy he’d never met.

Just before takeoff and without warning, a flight attendant leaned in and gave Mr. Fischer the bad news: He’d need to change his seat. Refusing to do so, the attendant explained that the plane would not depart until he complied. Understandably humiliated and embarrassed, Fischer moved, but that was just the beginning – the 33-year-old hedge fund manager is now suing British Airways on grounds of sex discrimination.

“This policy is branding all men as perverts for no reason,” Fischer told London’s Daily Mail; the case will be heard next month. Fischer says he will donate any compensation he receives to the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Does British Airways really have a policy that demands cabin crew arbitrarily reseat passengers it deems unfit companions for unaccompanied minors on its flights? Like all airlines, it no doubt has strict guidelines that include taking special precautions that the child is not lost in the shuffle. The most typical security measure is to seat solo-flying children as close to a galley and cabin crew as possible, in order to keep an eye on them.

JetBlue spokesperson Mateo Lleras says that the airline will generally try to keep the unaccompanied minor “somewhere close to the front of the plane” and in plain sight.

Tim Smith, a representative for American Airlines, says that the airline does “routinely place the unaccompanied minors in seating areas where our flight attendants can easily monitor and interact with the children.”

American would not, he states, “routinely move male (or female) passengers away from unaccompanied minors without cause.”

Then again, there’s always the possibility that British Airways does not do so either.

New York-based BA spokesman John Lampl couldn’t go into details due to pending litigation, but did supply an official statement from the airline saying that there was an internal investigation currently underway, and that the airline had been “looking at a potential settlement by meeting the customer's claim before this issue received any media coverage.”  

But isn't it a bit late for that?

How would you react in such a situation?

Categories: Airline Industry News

Doh! I left my laptop on the plane. Here's how I got it back.

Posted by David Landsel on Monday, January 18, 2010

The gentleman at United’s baggage service counter in LaGuardia’s central terminal had it right.

“There’s something about the air on those planes,” he teased. I wasn’t really listening. I was too busy admiring my banged-up old laptop.   

It had been approximately three hours since I’d lost my Hewlett Packard DV2500, much missed during that time not because it is the greatest piece of technology ever to fly off the shelves at my local Best Buy, but because, like a fool, I hadn’t backed the thing up for months.

Last seen: In the seatback pocket belonging to seat 26A on my flight from Chicago-O’Hare. At that time, I’d issued myself a stern reminder to not leave it behind. But, like the guy at the baggage counter pointed out, that pressurized cabin air can make you go stupid.

In fact, travel at any altitude or speed can be discombobulating. Just ask Yo-Yo Ma, who famously left his $2.5 million cello in the trunk of a New York City taxi.

Like Mr. Ma, I walked off that plane without my laptop and never looked back. Not, at least, until the unpacking process began at home an hour later.

So many cell phones, wallets, drivers licenses, passports, lucky blue shirts, all gone, all disappeared in my travels. I’m so loss-prone, I’ve now programmed myself to assume that everything’s gone, before I can actually confirm. Sometimes I’m wrong. A lot of the time, I’m right.

This time, however, there was no turning out coat pockets. You either have your busted-up, out-of-date laptop computer with you, or you don’t. I didn’t.

Luggage gets tagged, it gets bar-coded. The possessions are zipped up in a fashionable bag. Sometimes the bag is locked, if you’re smart. If you’re really smart, you shipped your things ahead of you. Either way, all this stuff can usually be traced. There is a system.

A lost item, on a plane, sitting there in the seatback pocket for the cleaners or the next passenger to discover? That’s really tempting the Fates.

To say I felt helpless is putting it mildly. Everything on my computer, gone, just like that. My first reaction was to call United’s baggage hotline, where a computer gave me the number for the lost and found office at LaGuardia, where nobody picked up the phone. It was three days before Christmas, so this was not unexpected. Less expected: The voicemail was full, and not accepting any more messages.

Within an hour or so, I was at the office in person, where – miracle – my laptop had already been turned in. Had it not been there, well, forget calling, I was told. Fill out a form online. Best advice if you ever want to see your valuables again: be more proactive: just turn around and go back to the airport.  

An online form sounded like an easy solution for next time; unfortunately, I could find no such thing on United’s Web site.

According to Robin Urbanski, spokesperson for United, what the folks at LaGuardia had probably meant was that I could send an email reporting my lost item. She also referred me back to the hotline that gave me the number I called that nobody answered. 

Pick an airline, the reporting process appears to be pretty much the same: If you lose something that is not baggage, call the airline’s baggage services at the airport in question anyway. Some airlines will give you those numbers on their Web sites; for other airlines you'll have to call their 800 number. Like United, JetBlue has email addresses for initiating contact online; however, each airport it serves has a dedicated address for lost and found.  See ways to contact baggage offices and lost and found.

JetBlue recommends initiating contact no more than 4 hours after the loss – this turns out to be a very useful recommendation, seeing as found items unclaimed within 48 hours are sent to the airline’s central offices in Salt Lake, according to spokesman Bryan Baldwin. Helpfully, local offices tag each found item as if it were a piece of luggage, enabling anyone with access to the system to track it down for you.

For their part, United would give no time frame for beginning or ending a search – United’s Urbanski said that searches are “indefinite.” As in, cases are open until they’re closed.

Bear in mind, no matter which airline you’re dealing with, recovering your lost items depends a great deal on whether or not the cabin cleaners that tidy up after every flight, a service generally performed by a third-party contractor, and a) find the item you left behind, or b) do the right thing and turn the item in.   

Even if items are turned in and processed, it turns out, there’s no guarantee they will ever be claimed. Urbanski said that United hangs on to what it finds for “several months,” after which time a “variety of things” could be done, including donating them to charity, though she didn’t offer specifics. After 90 days, JetBlue sends unclaimed items on to a third party, which puts them up for sale.

While nobody was able to give hard statistics on how many items are orphaned, retrieved or left behind each year, one LaGuardia insider who asked not to be named told me I’d be surprised at “how many laptops we have lying around.” Maybe some charity is about to get lucky.

One final tip: you do label the valuable electronics (cell phones, cameras, laptops, DVD players, etc) that you bring on board with you with your phone number, don’t you? If not, get out that labeler right now and do it.

David Landsel is the travel editor of The New York Post.

Categories: Air Travel
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