Is credit card travel insurance enough?

By Samantha Lemna  | 
1/23/18 1:03 PM
     

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Travel insurance, including travel medical, lost baggage, and trip cancellation or interruption, can be covered by some credit cards. However, it is important that you verify that your credit card does include this coverage and understand exactly what it provides and the policy limits. This will vary depending on the card. You may find that this coverage works perfectly for you or that you may want better or additional coverage for when you travel.

Does my credit card offer travel insurance?

Not every credit card offers travel insurance. Be sure to check with your bank or the credit card company to check if your card has these benefits. Ask for a recommendation for one that does if you're looking for a new card. Generally, the main credit card companies will have at least one card that includes travel insurance. Make sure you read the fine print and call a representative to verify exactly what is covered and what the limits of the policy are.

What does credit card travel insurance include?

What is included as part of the travel insurance benefit will vary by the card. That's why it's important to contact the company to understand what is covered and what the limits are. Coverage usually includes:

  • Travel medical insurance, the most important part of travel insurance. This pays for emergency medical care you may need while travelling. This may also include repatriation in case of serious illness, injury or death.

  • Trip cancellation insurance will provide refunds in certain situations if you need to cancel your trip before it begins.

  • Trip interruption helps get you home and gets you some money back if you need to cut your trip short.

  • Some policies may also include funds for lost baggage or flight delays.

Keep in mind that a credit card may not provide all of these options and they will have certain limits and conditions when it comes to using them. For example, they may require you to have made the purchase with the credit card to get a refund.

Are there limits to credit card travel insurance?

Yes. Travel insurance provided with credit cards is often quite limited - far more so than a policy you would normally get through an insurance broker. First of all, there is likely a limited number of travel days that will be covered for the year in total. The number of days covered will vary, but 30 days is common. While you should investigate the number of travel days covered, this is especially important if you travel for more than a few weeks each year. Look into purchasing additional travel insurance (particularly travel medical) if you travel beyond the credit card's yearly limit.

Second, travel insurance included on your credit card is also often limited in terms of what is covered and the amount that is paid out in the case of a claim. For instance, if your trip must be cancelled, some cards may only reimburse you up to $1000 in expenses. A full family vacation to Mexico or Europe is obviously much more expensive than that, so you're going to be out quite a bit of money by relying solely on your credit card insurance.

Third, in terms of coverage for emergency medical treatment or evacuation, credit card travel insurance tends to fall short. For example, many will not cover you if you must be admitted to the hospital abroad. The amount paid out in the case you receive emergency medical treatment is also generally lower than a traditional travel medical insurance policy.

Policy limits are why you need to thoroughly understand your policy and how it works. Know what is covered and the maximum amount of money you will receive if you make a claim.

Do I need better travel insurance coverage than what my credit card offers?

That depends on the type and amount of coverage your credit card provides and your personal travel plans. Talk to your broker about your options for travel insurance. Companies offer inexpensive plans that provide more thorough coverage with higher limits than credit cards.

A popular option is simply purchasing additional travel medical insurance coverage. While trip cancellation or interruption is a nice to have and can save you money, travel medical gives you true peace of mind. Medical expenses can be astronomical, particularly if you travel in countries like the US or remote locations. Your broker will be able to advise you on the best option for your budget and travel style.

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