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What is trip interruption insurance?

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    Booking a vacation often comes with a lot of “what ifs.” What if I get sick and test positive for COVID-19 before boarding my flight? What if a hurricane is forecast to make landfall in south Florida the day my cruise is departing Miami?

    Trip cancellation and interruption insurance can be an effective way to mitigate those worries, knowing you would be covered if something extraordinary happens that either curtails or cancels your trip.

    Read on to know more about the different types of trip coverage provided through credit card issuers and travel insurers.

    How does trip interruption insurance work?

    Trip interruption insurance can reimburse travelers for expenses associated with covered situations that can unexpectedly cut your trip short. It provides reimbursement for prepaid, unused and non-refundable travel expenses, such as plane tickets, hotel stays or cruise line reservations.

    How do I get trip interruption insurance?

    Many credit card issuers offer some form of trip interruption insurance as a benefit to their customers, as well as an incentive for cardmembers to book travel using their cards. If you are unsure if your credit card issuer offers this benefit, you can call the toll-free number on the back of your card or go online to find out.

    Credit card travel insurance vs. insurance company policies

    Travel policies for both trip cancellation and interruption are regulated insurance products sold online by travel insurance issuers. Credit card-based trip interruption coverage, which is often capped at a few thousand dollars of reimbursement, should not be viewed as a substitute for these insurance policies. Some credit card products also cap their trip interruption payouts at $1,500 per person and $6,000 or less for the whole family for each trip and/or limit their coverage to prepaid passenger fares, such as plane tickets or cruise line fares. For this reason, some travelers will purchase travel insurance policies for coverage in excess of the basic coverage their card issuer offers.

    What’s covered by trip interruption insurance?

    Here are several situations in which trip interruption insurance may be applicable:

    • A severe weather event such as a hurricane or flood striking your booked vacation destination or cancelling flights to it—as well as mandatory evacuations prior to a hurricane making landfall
    • Severe weather or wildfires destroying your primary residence while you are traveling
    • Accidental death or bodily injury for a passenger on an airline or cruise line, as well as any serious illness for you, your direct family member, or your traveling companion during your trip
    • Active duty or reservist members of the military receiving documented orders that cut short their vacation—where the spouse traveling with them is also covered
    • An organized airline employee strike that leads to the cancellation of your flight

    Please note that in order for coverage to apply, you must first notify the common carrier such as the airline or cruise line that interrupted your trip and request whatever refund, miles or other compensation they are prepared to offer. You will need to do this before submitting a claim to your insurer or credit card Benefit Administrator.

    What isn’t covered by trip interruption insurance?

    There are many situations that can arise including common occurrences that usually aren’t covered by trip interruption insurance.

    • Any trip interruption due to a change in plans by you and your traveling companion or failure to obtain passports or the necessary visas in time before departure
    • Trips interrupted due to a traveler or their traveling companion’s pre-existing medical conditions
    • Financial insolvency with default of an airline or cruise line on its obligations
    • Acts of war whether declared or undeclared or an armed rebellion in a destination country
    • Any trip lasting over 60 days

    For the full list of what is and isn’t covered by trip interruption insurance provided through booking travel using your credit card, check your cardmember benefit guide. For any active purchased travel insurance policy, read the terms and conditions carefully.

    What’s the difference between trip interruption insurance and trip cancellation coverage?

    Trip interruption is often confused with trip cancellation insurance, but there are key differences between the two, notably the scope of coverage based on the timing of events. Trip interruption coverage starts on the day of your scheduled departure and ends on the day of your scheduled return home. Trip cancellation coverage begins once you’ve booked a trip using a credit card that offers this type of benefit, or from the day you purchase a travel insurance policy to protect your upcoming itinerary.

    Examples of the differences between trip cancellation and interruption coverage

    With trip interruption coverage, you can file a claim for reimbursement if a covered event happens after you leave for your trip. With trip cancellation coverage, you can file a claim for reimbursement if forced to cancel a trip for a covered reason prior to departure.

    Interruption coverage to reimburse the cost of a ticket change fee to get home could apply if a passenger makes their initial flight, but the same pilots’ strike cancels their connecting flight.


    Although it is not a substitute for travel cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance can reimburse travelers for prepaid non-refundable land, air or cruise arrangements that are not used, as well as change fees and ground transportation. Terms and conditions apply to trip interruption provided as a credit card benefit, so read terms and conditions carefully.

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