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Travel solutions: Help with cancellation insurance

Q: I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. I got this because of the good reviews I saw online, especially for the cancellation insurance benefit.

We used the card to pay for part of a snorkeling trip to Cuba. My husband tested positive for COVID two days before we were supposed to leave, and we had to cancel. The entire trip was non-refundable at that point.

I filed a claim with Chase seven months ago. I have spent countless hours on the phone, as well as online, communicating with their claims department. I’ve spent many hours talking to at least a dozen people at Chase.

A Chase representative told me three months after I submitted my claim that it was approved but that it needed to be “verified”. After more calls, Chase still needed more documentation. Can you help me get my claim approved for $15,194? – Judy Lambert, Sacramento, California

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A: Chase should have processed your claim quickly, as promised. Instead, it took its time and dragged it out for months.

I’ve never been a fan of credit cards that try to hook you with all kinds of bells and whistles, but when a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve makes a promise to you, it has to keep it.

In your case, months ago you received a call from a representative assuring you that a $15,194 check was in the mail, only to discover another email from his claims processor asking for more documentation.

It’s not unusual for a travel insurance company to dot every “i” and cross every “t” when you have a big claim. It is unusual for the claim to continue for so long. I reviewed the paper trail between you and Chase. It seems you quickly sent everything the company asked for.

So why the delay? All travel insurance companies have experienced delays this summer due to an increase in claims related to COVID, in addition to airline delays and cancellations. It’s possible your claim got stuck in that pile.

There is a way to get loose. You can send a short, polite email to the claims department. If that doesn’t work, you can appeal to one of the company’s managers. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Chase executives on my consumer advocacy website at elliott.org/company-contacts/chase-bank. I also have tips on how to file an insurance claim in my free guide to travel insurance at elliott.org/ultimate-consumer-guides-smart-travelers/how-find-best-travel-insurance.

I contacted Chase on your behalf. A representative called you and said that your claim has already been approved and that the check is on its way. This time you got your money. “I was ready to give up,” you said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.”

That’s what I do. I’m happy to help.

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Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at chris@elliott.org

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