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What You Need To Know About Travel Delay Insurance

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In 2014, Nausheen Mian travelled to Sydney, Australia. It was a trip that she looked forward to since she'd be meeting up with family she hadn't seen in a few years. Mian booked her ticket to Sydney via Qantas--with a stopover in Los Angeles--on her Aeroplan credit card and took off. The flight to L.A. was great, but once she landed, the troubles began to happen.

"I landed in L.A. around 9 p.m. local time. My flight was supposed to take off at 12 a.m. Instead, it was delayed until 2 a.m.," says Mian. "At 2 a.m., there was no boarding and that time we were told that the flight was delayed until further notice. And we were told to come check in at 6 a.m."

Flight delays are one of the greatest fears for any traveler. Most travelers want to reach their final destination as soon as possible, but flight delays can happen for many reasons. There could be bad weather, equipment failure, or the crew might be past their legal flying time.

How airlines deal with frustrated passengers vary by airline. But a quick response can make a huge difference when it comes to customer service. Mian was offered a $20 food voucher at 2 a.m, which isn't unreasonable considering it was only a two-hour delay. But what's open at airports at that time?

Passengers on Mian's flight were obviously frustrated. The idea of spending the next four hours in an airport while trying to get some sleep isn't appealing to anyone. What made things worse was when she asked for blankets and pillows, Mian encountered some problems.

"They claimed they had run out," she explains. "I asked if someone could get my blanket and pillow from my seat. The workers displayed resistance to this idea but after me pressing them to do so, they reluctantly got the bedding I requested."

You're probably wondering why the airline didn't provide passengers with a hotel. Since this incident happened two years ago, we weren't able to get the details. But considering the time the flight landed and the expected time of departure, it may not have been possible to secure enough rooms. However, any passengers who booked their flights with a flight delay insurance credit card would have been eligible to make an insurance claim.

Depending on your credit card, the Visa travel insurance will differ. But generally speaking, after a four-hour delay, you'll instantly qualify for up to $500 per person for any reasonable expenses incurred as a result of a flight delay. This coverage can extend to meals, beverages, and accommodations. Some insurance policies will even give you $100 for entertainment purposes so check your policy details to find out exactly what you're covered for.

"I didn't even think about the coverage I had with my Visa," says Mian. She ended up sleeping on the airport terminal floor and woke up at 6 a.m. only to find out that her flight had been rescheduled again to 2 p.m. She was given another $20 voucher, but "luck" was on her side. She ran into a manager who provided her with a guest pass to the Cathay Pacific lounge where she could sleep, shower, and eat a proper meal. The lounge ended up being a small oasis for Mian since her flight was delayed again until 10 p.m.

With any insurance claim, you should follow a few steps. Notify your insurance provider as soon as possible since some of them require formal notification within a set period to make a claim. They'll be able to explain what you're eligible to claim and how to move forward.

Generally speaking, you'll need to provide your plane ticket or credit card receipt for the ticket, a written statement from the airline confirming the delay (e-mails are fine), and itemized receipts of all your expenses. Keep in mind that there's a time limit when making a claim so don't wait too long to submit all your documents.

"The only compensation I received for all of this after I launched a complaint with Qantas was a guest pass to the lounge before take off on my return flight," says Mian. "When I landed in L.A., the Qantas reps tried to prevent me from using my guest pass in their lounge, but luckily I was allowed access to the American Airlines lounge so I could shower and eat. The food, however, wasn't free."

After almost 24 hours of delays, and spending about $100 out of her own pocket, Mian was in her cousin's car and ready for a different kind of adventure.

The best travel credit cards all have comprehensive travel insurance so check yours to find out what's covered. Your insurance won't eliminate delays, but at least you'll be a little more comfortable while you wait things out.

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