USA Today | Oct 22, 2021
Nothing can really make up for a ruined vacation that was months in the making. But for Southwest customers whose flights were canceled over the weekend, the costs of missed trips and being stranded were calculable.
"There's always some amount of uncertainty or risk in travel either medically, financially, personal reasons," Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners travel insurance. "If you can't afford to lose all the money you've invested in your trip, then consider travel insurance."
Travel insurance and trip protection, provided by credit card carriers, can help absorb some of those unexpected costs.
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For most everyday travelers, independent personal finance expert Matt Granite, known as The Deal Guy on YouTube, recommends sticking with the trip protection major credit cards provide when they're used to purchase travel.
"Look through the coverage that you might already have on your credit card," he said. "A lot of us have great credit cards, and we are (only) using 2% of the features available to us, including lost luggage and all sorts of reimbursement issues."
Granite singled out Chase and American Express for exceptional service but said most Visa cards will offer protection as well.
"If something happened – in the situation of the Southwest flight cancellations, the airline canceled – if you have most Visa credit cards, you'll dispute that charge; they will go to bat for you," he said. "They will freeze that amount of money, give it right back to you while they try to clear things up with the airline, and it's, I'd say in my experience, handled 90% to the customer's satisfaction."
He recommends using a credit card connected with a hotel or airline because of the added benefits included with those types of cards.
"It doesn't matter whether or not you go to Hilton (or another chain), you'll be scoring a whole wonderful array of protective products built into that credit card, and you want to put your travel, your cruises, your Expedia trips, whatever it is that you're doing, on to those credit cards," Granite said. "Those are the ones that will protect you, and you'll save significantly more money, hassle and headache."
Granite generally does not recommend purchasing separate travel insurance, unless travelers have medical concerns traveling abroad.
Jeremy Murchland with Seven Corners said most insurance companies and policies now include COVID-19 coverage, but advises travelers to look closely at plans for details.
"You want to make sure you understand what type of interruption coverage or quarantine coverage you may have in the event that you travel and come down with COVID," he said.
While plans vary, other common coverage areas include trip cancellations, interruptions and significant delays as well as medical expenses, lost baggage, theft and change fees.