What Is Trip Interruption Insurance and Why Is It Valuable?

Trip interruption insurance protects you from financial loss if you’re on vacation and something unfortunate happens.

young woman using trip interruption insurance
Updated June 14, 2024
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Many of the best travel credit cards offer bonus perks for cardholders, including various types of travel insurance to protect you if something goes wrong. One of those types of travel insurance is called trip interruption insurance.  

Trip interruption insurance refunds money you’d otherwise lose if something happens and a planned trip is interrupted once you’ve begun your journey.

Because things can and do go wrong, trip interruption coverage is a valuable form of protection. It’s a cardholder perk you should look for when choosing a credit card if you travel often.

What is trip interruption insurance?

Trip interruption insurance is a type of insurance coverage available on select credit cards that applies to cardholders and their immediate family members. It can also be directly purchased from insurance providers for those who want the protection but don’t have a credit card that provides it.

Trip interruption insurance can reimburse you for any otherwise non-refundable travel expenses when a covered event interferes with a trip you’ve already started. This typically includes passenger fares, tours, and hotel charges.

Depending on your trip interruption policy, there may be coverage limits for how much you can be reimbursed, though. And often there is both a per-trip limit as well as an annual limit when you get coverage through your credit card.

Why would you need trip interruption insurance?

Lots of different events can make it impossible for you to continue on a planned trip, even when you’ve already started traveling.

You, a traveling companion, or an immediate family member could get sick or pass away. Terrorist activity or hijacking could stop you from reaching your destination, or severe weather could make travel unsafe. You could even end up being subpoenaed and having to go to a court hearing that can’t be postponed.

When these events happen, sometimes hotels, airlines, or tour operators won’t give you back the money you’ve paid — even though you have to cancel the rest of your vacation through no fault of your own. Trip interruption insurance ensures you aren’t out the cash by reimbursing you for the expenses you already paid out.

What is the difference between trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance?

There are actually different kinds of insurance you may need in case something goes wrong with your trip: trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance.

Trip cancellation insurance covers you if something happens before you leave on your trip and you cannot go at all, while trip interruption insurance provides reimbursement if something goes wrong and you can’t continue a trip after it’s already started.

It’s a good idea to see if your travel card offers both kinds of insurance or to buy both types of coverage if you’re getting insurance independently. Having both cancellation and interruption coverage can be important because you never know when something might go wrong, and you don’t want to be out the cash just because you happened to get sick or suffer an accident at the wrong time.

What does trip interruption insurance cover?

Trip interruption insurance only covers you when an eligible event triggers the interruption of your trip. Eligible events generally include terrorist attacks, court summons, accidents, illnesses, injuries, and severe weather.

Insurance policies often exclude coverage if your trip is canceled by events such as wars breaking out, preexisting medical conditions, or trips you took against the advice of your doctor. You also won’t get back your money if you can’t continue with your trip as planned just because you had a change in your financial circumstances.

Additionally, if you traveled despite a preexisting “named storm” (such as Hurricane Irma, for example) or traveled to an area where there was an existing travel warning, you’ll probably be out of luck as far as getting losses covered. However, this can depend on your policy, who issued the travel or weather warnings, and when the warning was issued.

Other limitations may include the duration of your trip — very long trips may not be covered — and there may be a cap as far as the total costs for which you can be reimbursed. Some insurance providers offer broader coverage than others. You may get reimbursed for up to 150% of expenses by some insurers, for example, while others will cap your coverage or will only cover your return trip home.

Additionally, if your trip interruption insurance is available through your credit card, you’re covered only if you charged some or all of your trip costs on the card.

What happens when you need to use your trip interruption insurance?

When you make an insurance claim, you have to provide proof you actually suffered a covered loss — and this requirement is no different with trip interruption insurance.

Typically, this means you need to provide something like a death certificate, a copy of the court subpoena, or evidence of a doctor visit and diagnosis if you’re claiming illness or injury. In other words, you need to show why your trip was interrupted and need to back up your claim. You’ll also need to submit receipts, itineraries, or other details showing the lost funds caused by the interruption of your trip. All of this paperwork will need to be submitted directly to the insurer.

Check your policy to find out about the claims process. Claims can often be submitted online, but no matter which approach you use to submit your info, you’ll often have a time limit. So you’ll need to reach out to the insurer ASAP.

How do you get trip interruption insurance?

You can purchase trip interruption insurance through an insurance agency or directly from an insurance provider. Costs will vary depending on factors like the number of people you’re covering and the amount of coverage you need based on the cost of your trip.

You may also get trip interruption insurance as a cardholder perk with a credit card. One of your existing cards may already have it, so check your cardmember agreement. Or you can sign up for a travel credit card that offers trip interruption insurance as a benefit if you don’t have one already.

What credit cards include vacation or trip interruption insurance?

If you want a card that will insure you in case something goes wrong on your trip, here are a few key options available to you.

Card name Annual fee Reimbursement limit Quick coverage notes
Chase Sapphire Reserve® $550  $10,000 per covered trip; $20,000 per occurrence; and $40,000 maximum per year Cardholder and immediate family are covered.

Covers non-refundable expenses for tours, hotels, and passenger fares.

Covered for accidental bodily injury, death, or illness by a cardmember, traveling companion, or their immediate family members; severe weather; hijacking; terrorist action; unwaivable jury duty or court subpoenas; or financial insolvency of travel suppliers.

You’re not covered for preexisting conditions, changes in financial circumstances; travel arrangements canceled by the provider for reasons other than severe weather; traveling against medical advice; wars; or trips longer than 60 days.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card $95 $10,000 per covered trip; $20,000 per occurrence; and $40,000 maximum per year Cardholder and immediate family are covered.

Covers non-refundable expenses for tours, hotels, and passenger fares.

You’re covered for accidental bodily injury, death, or illness by a cardmember, traveling companion, or their immediate family members; severe weather; hijacking; terrorist action; unwaivable jury duty or court subpoenas; or financial insolvency of travel suppliers.

You’re not covered for preexisting conditions, changes in financial circumstances; travel arrangements being canceled by the provider for reasons other than severe weather; traveling against medical advice; or wars.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card $95 $5,000 per eligible trip Cardholders and immediate family members are covered.

You’re covered for injury, death, or sickness of the cardholder or travel companion or any immediate family members; severe weather; changes in military orders for you, your spouse, or a domestic partner; terrorist acts or hijacking; jury duty summons or subpoenas that can’t be postponed or waived; your dwelling your travel companion’s dwelling being declared uninhabitable; or a physician imposing a quarantine.

You’re not covered for changes in arrangements by a tour operator not caused by severe weather; preexisting conditions; changes in financial circumstances; accidents caused while committing a felony; suicide; or declared or undeclared war.

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Christy Rakoczy

Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.