Two days before Jodi Lambert left for her snorkeling trip to Cuba, she received some bad news: Her husband tested positive for the COVID virus. The ride was lackluster—and $15194 went down the drain.
Or did you do that?
Lambert used a Chase Sapphire Reserve visa to pay for her trip, and her card came with gold-plated travel insurance coverage. After she filed a claim with Chase, a representative assured her that she was fully covered for her loss.
Then Chase Sapphire Reserve requested more documents. And then you never hear from her again.
Now Lambert wants me to help her figure out what happened to her claim for $15194. By the time she called me, it had been seven months since she canceled her trip, and she wanted answers. After hearing her story, I did, too.
What you’ve discovered sheds a bright light on one of the most complex segments of the travel industry: rewards credit cards. For years, I have avoided issues dealing with popular payment systems due to their complexity and ethical issues.
But that changed recently. Our advocacy organization is now accepting loyalty program and grant issues again.
Missing Queen’s Gardens
Lambert and her husband had a once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling adventure on the plank livestream this spring.
The trip, provided by a tour company called Snorkeling Etc, took divers and snorkelers to the Queen’s Gardens (Jardines de la Reina) off the southern coast of Cuba. It is one of the last healthy coral reef habitats in the Caribbean, with underwater landscapes and an abundance of fish.
I have been studying scuba diving in the Florida Keys for many years. I remember older coaches telling me what the reef looked like before pollution and excessive snorkeling sucked the color and life out of them. They were describing the Jardines de la Reina.
So you can imagine Lambert’s disappointment when her husband tested positive for COVID. The doctor ordered him to stay home, and the couple had no choice but to cancel their trip.
“The entire trip was unrecoverable at that point,” she says.
Lambert lodged a complaint with Chase, expecting a quick solution. She had applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card after reading reviews of the card on several travel websites. (She shouldn’t have believed the ratings. Most “reviewers” are compensated with generous referral fees and have been unable to be objective.)
Claim – long wait
Lambert lodged a complaint with Chase and waited. She checked in with the company from time to time to see if she had all the information she needed to claim the company. Chase’s travel insurance claims are handled by a third party.
“I was told by a Chase representative three months after I submitted the claim for approval, but it needs to be verified,” she says.
By “verified,” the representative likely means that someone at a higher level needs to check out on the claim where it was above $10,000. But it should have taken a few weeks at most.
Chase asked her for more documents. She spent many hours on the phone, trying to fulfill the requirements. But Chase, via its claims company, has continued to introduce new requirements to get its claims paid. (This might sound familiar to anyone collecting points.)
“I’ve spent many hours on the phone and online getting in touch with the claims department,” Lambert told me. “I’ve spoken to at least ten people at Chase.”
But the claims process has continued, and she hasn’t recently heard from anyone at Chase or the benefits officer. I thought the company might be its ghost.
“Can you help me agree to my claim for $15,194?” She asked.
What are the benefits of Chase Sapphire Reserve travel insurance?
Chase Sapphire Reserve is a credit card that is almost too good to be true. Here are the travel insurance benefits you get:
Car rental accident damage waiver
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $75,000 in damages for theft and collision damage to rental vehicles in the United States and abroad.
Baggage delay insurance
Chase will reimburse you for purchases such as toiletries and clothing for baggage delays of more than six hours by passenger carriers up to $100 per day for five days.
Emergency evacuation and transportation
If you get sick and need to be evacuated, Chase will cover medical services and transportation up to $100,000.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
If you can’t go on your trip for a covered reason, Chase may reimburse you up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for non-refundable prepaid travel expenses. Includes airline tickets, hotels and tours.
Flight delay compensation
If your flight is more than six hours late or requires an overnight stay, you’ll be covered for unpaid expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
Some of these covers are more generous than a regular card. For example, my Visa card offers cancellation benefits of up to $2000. (Then again, there is no annual fee on my card. The annual fee for Chase Sapphire Reserve is $550.)
Bottom line: Chase Sapphire Reserve was supposed to cover Lambert’s cancellation immediately.
Why did this claim against Chase Sapphire Reserve take so long?
Decisions for travel insurance claims have slowed since late spring. The reason: more people are traveling, more claims are being made. But no one expected that this is many.
This summer’s tidal wave of airline cancellations and delays has boosted business. If I had to make an informed guess, I’d say the folks at Chase Sapphire Reserve’s claims department have been swept away in a deluge of claims. So did Lambert.
This is no excuse. Chasing Raising $5 billion From the credit card department last year. Most transactions posted in seconds. Making someone like Lambert wait seven months for a claim to be resolved is unreasonable.
How to contact Chase Sapphire Reserve customer service
The Chase Sapphire customer service phone number is (800) 935-9935. Like many companies, Chase has embraced a “DIY” model of customer service, where you’d rather have articles and videos send you articles on a topic than someone who can help you.
For a problem as complex as an insurance claim, the self-help section on Chase’s website is helpful to a minimum. We publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of Chase executives who are responsible for customer service. I recommend saving everything in writing – not calls! – Until you have a paper trail of your condition.
Remember, if you cannot get help from Chase Sapphire Reserve Customer Service, Connect with us. We will do our best to help.
Another ‘Benefit’ of Chase Sapphire Reserve: Free lessons in patience
Doesn’t Lambert’s case make you question the value of these credit card rewards?
She could have purchased a basic travel insurance policy, filed a claim, and received her cash months ago.
Lambert says she is disappointed that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has received so many glowing positive reviews online. She expected her claim to move quickly – not to take seven months. You never expected the bureaucracy: the promise of payment, followed by months of requests for more information and then the silence of the radio.
To her, it seemed to be the Chase Sapphire Reserve card I was Too good to be true.
Perhaps this is an undisclosed “benefit” of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card: it teaches you patience.
Should You Get Chase Sapphire Reserve to Get Travel Insurance Benefits?
Is it worth getting an expensive credit card and earning points like Chase Sapphire Reserve? In most cases, the answer is no. You can get many of the same card benefits for free by being a Smart Consumer. Some cards offer no coverage fee, but an affordable branded travel insurance policy, car insurance, or your AAA membership can offer the same or better benefits.
In terms of earning points, I have an opposing view.
I think rewards credit cards can be addictive and dangerous, and I think their days are numbered. Instead of focusing on maximizing your score — a game credit card companies want you to play — I think smart, responsible consumers should look for high-quality, affordable products. I feel sorry for the hordes of cardholders who are looking for the latest promotion and trying to find a way to take advantage of it. This is not a responsible consumer.
For Lambert, answering the question, “Should I have Chase Sapphire Reserve to get travel insurance benefits?” Clear. No, the benefits of traveling on the Chase Sapphire Preserve did not deliver what was promised. Instead, it was an unwanted master class about patience.
Chase should have kept her updated on the progress of her claim. He should have asked her for documents and and then I told her the claim was approved – not the other way around. And Chase shouldn’t have kept her in the dark for seven months. This is not a record of our organization’s travel insurance claim, but it is close.
Chase: “Sorry for the delay.”
I contacted Chase on behalf of Lambert. The company broke its silence, reaching out to Lambert after months of inaction and apologizing for the delay. The company reviewed its lawsuit and decided to respect it.
Chase finally sent her a check for $15194.
“I was ready to give up,” Lambert says. “This would not have happened without your help. What can I say but thank you a million times!”
No thank you You are.
Credit cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve are revered by the frequent flyer community. Entire blogging empires are built on the lucrative Chase referral fees. However, even though all the money was in circulation, the credit card could not fulfill a simple claim right away. Unfortunately, no one will hold Chase to account for his negligence.
we will, approx no one.
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