COVID-19: Refunds when Non-Refundable Trip is Cancelled

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Earlier this month I wrote on how to get your refund on non-refundable trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is to wait until your trip involuntarily cancelled, decline to receive any credits, and then make a trip cancellation claim via your credit card or other travel insurance. Today I will write a quick update regarding claiming insurance.

Just a reminder, no one should be traveling these days. And if you do, do you really want to wear a face mask on planes when it’s already not comfortable to breath on planes?

Santorini will just have to wait
The Good News

If you still have not cancelled a trip which has been affected by a involuntary cancellation, you may still be able to file your claim. Initially, some providers only gave people until the end of April to file claims, but as we now head into May, some providers have updated their policies to allow for claims as long as your cited reason is still valid.

For American Express Canada’s Business Platinum and Platinum Card holders, in the case of COVID-19, the Canadian federal government’s global do-not-travel advisory is a valid reason for claiming trip cancellation insurance, and as of writing, the advisory is still in place.

You are going to want to keep an eye on that. The minute the government removes the global advisory, you will have to check individual countries’ advisories. If any country on your itinerary still has avoid all non-essential travel advisory, you will still be eligible to file a claim. If not, you are out of luck.

Don’t forget, this advise may not be applicable to everyone as every policy is different. So double check your insurance provider’s policy to make sure that is the case.

The Bad News

Today, I was informed that the insurance underwriters for AMEX Business and Platinum cards have revised their policy so that if your travel operator offers you any form of credit, be it voucher or certificate or otherwise, it will be considered a refund and you no longer be eligible to make a claim on those amounts – even if you decline the credit.

Simply put, if you have a $1,000 plane ticket, and the airline offers you $1,000 in future flight credits when you cancel your flight, you will not be eligible to file a claim.

However, you can still make a claim on any booking fees or amounts that were not refunded. So for example, if the airline would only give you $900 in travel credits, you can still make a claim on $100. Now if you booked your trip through a travel agency and that agency charged you a $50 non-refundable booking fee, you can make a claim on that $50 as well.

Also, keep in mind the airline may not be willing to cancel your itinerary even if your flights are cancelled. Case in point: United reinventing the word ‘cancel’.

Bottom Line

If you missed the chance to make an insurance claim on non-refundable trips by declining credit, that’s too bad. But your money isn’t gone; you can still access your value in form of a travel credit. Subscribe to my newsletter and you won’t miss out on the next travel tip!

Kevin