Having an airline or another carrier lose or delay your baggage can be an incredibly frustrating experience, even if it's a rare occurrence. Around four out of every 1,000 bags loaded onto planes were lost, damaged, delayed, or pilfered in December 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Travel.
In the event your luggage is mishandled, you may be able to get some recourse from the carrier. But if you want some extra certainty, it doesn't hurt to use a credit card with insurance protection for lost or delayed luggage.
What Is Lost or Delayed Baggage Insurance?
Lost luggage reimbursement and delayed baggage insurance are two separate protections on a credit card. Select cards from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express offer protection for lost or damaged luggage, and some cards from Visa and Mastercard provide delayed baggage insurance. A select few cards provide both, including:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- United Explorer Credit Card
- Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
How Credit Card Lost Baggage Insurance Works
When you use your credit card to pay for your flight or your ticket for any other common travel carrier (e.g., cruise line or train operator), your lost luggage insurance is in force.
If a common carrier loses or damages your luggage, you can get reimbursed for the expenses you incur to repair or replace your belongings up to a maximum coverage amount. That number can depend on the credit card you have.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers up to $3,000 in coverage for you, your spouse or partner, and your dependents, while the Marriott Bonvoy American Express provides up to $1,250 per person.
However, certain items aren’t covered under lost baggage insurance:
- Motor vehicles or accessories
- Contact lenses, eyeglasses, sunglasses, and hearing aids
- Artificial teeth and prosthetic limbs
- Money, securities, debit and credit cards, and traveler's checks
- Tickets, documents, coins, keys, stamps, and perishable items
- Property shipped as freight
- Cell phones
- Business items
Some cards may not cover checked baggage that’s lost or damaged within a terminal or going to or from a terminal.
Because policies can vary in how much coverage different cards offer and what is and isn't included, it's important to review your credit card's benefits guide to find out what's eligible.
These insurance coverages are secondary to any reimbursement you might receive from the airline or other travel provider, as well as any other insurance policy you have, such as homeowners insurance, that covers your belongings.
How To File a Lost Luggage Claim
If a common carrier loses or damages your baggage, you'll first need to file a claim with the carrier and any other insurance policy you have that might cover you. If those options aren’t available, you can file a claim with your credit card's insurance provider. You'll typically need to notify the benefits administrator within 30 days, so check your card's terms and file the claim as quickly as possible.
When you file your claim, you'll typically need to provide:
- Proof that you used your card to pay for the trip
- A list of the items that were lost or damaged, and their value
- A settlement, check, or denial from the common carrier, or proof that you submitted a claim to the carrier
- Other documents the benefits administrator requires
You may have up to 90 days to provide this information, though timelines can vary by card.
How Credit Card Delayed Baggage Insurance Coverage Works
Delayed luggage insurance works like lost luggage insurance but kicks in if your baggage is delayed—typically by six hours or more—instead of lost. The idea behind this coverage is to cover the cost of essential items you'll need because of the delay, such as toiletries and clothing.
Instead of covering the cost of replacing existing items, your coverage will be capped at a certain amount per day for up to five days, depending on the card.
Again, certain items may not be covered, such as contact lenses, glasses, or hearing aids. You'll also typically be out of luck with documents, tickets, money, and similar items.
Like lost luggage insurance, delayed baggage insurance is typically secondary to any travel insurance or reimbursement you may receive from the carrier.
How To File a Delayed Baggage Insurance Claim
The filing process for delayed baggage is similar to what you'd need to do if your luggage was lost or damaged. You'll typically need to file the claim within a few weeks. Then, you'll have up to 90 days from the date of the occurrence to provide any documentation the benefits administrator requires, which is similar to the lost baggage insurance requirements.
Other Types of Lost or Delayed Luggage Insurance
Credit card luggage insurance is convenient, but it's not the only way you can get recourse if a carrier loses, damages, or delays your luggage.
The carrier will typically provide some form of reimbursement if it mishandles your baggage. You'll need to report the lost, damaged, or delayed items as soon as possible to start the process. However, each carrier has its own ways of determining the value of your contents and how much to reimburse you for delayed baggage.
As a result, you may want additional protection just in case the airline or other travel provider offers an amount that falls short of the actual cost of replacing your items.
Homeowners or Renters Insurance
Depending on your policy, your personal belongings may be covered, even if they're nowhere near your property when they're lost or damaged.
Review your policy's terms and conditions to find out your coverage and limits.
Travel insurance policies can cover a wide range of issues you encounter during your trip, including lost, damaged, or delayed baggage. If you purchased a travel insurance policy, check the benefits to find out what's covered and how much.
Do I Need Lost Luggage Insurance on My Credit Card?
The Balance considers lost luggage insurance and delayed baggage insurance to be excellent perks for credit card customers.
If you can get a credit card that offers one or both of these coverages, you don't have to worry about relying solely on the carrier's reimbursement policies. What's more, you may not have to purchase a separate travel insurance policy every time you take a trip.
It's important to pick a credit card based on its complete list of features, not just one. So compare several travel credit card options to make sure you find the one that's the best fit for you overall.