Is Credit Card Travel Insurance Reliable?

The answer is very simple; no, and here’s why. While most banks offer complimentary travel insurance with their credit cards, their policies are usually very basic, and thus do not come with the cover benefits needed for a trip.
Unfortunately, a lot of travellers these days are content to rely on the complimentary travel insurance offered by their credit card provider without taking the time to read the fine print. Most of the time, credit card travel insurance doesn’t even cover pre-existing medical conditions, whereas there are plenty of travel insurers that do, which is why it’s always a good idea to take out separate travel insurance for your journey, just to be on the safe side.
There are many limitations attached to complimentary credit card travel insurance and you probably won’t be covered for basic things like emergency evacuation, a kidnap, unexpected trip cancellations or delays, and there’ll probably be very little death cover to speak of as well. In fact, most credit card insurance policies will cover you for a very limited time during your trip, leaving you on your own for the rest of it.
It’s also important to keep in mind that free credit card insurance is made exclusively available to gold or platinum card holders, which often come with exorbitant annual fees to recoup the costs of the so-called ‘complimentary’ extras.

Is It Really Enough?

Here are some considerations that we recommend you make before you decide:

    • Who is covered in the complimentary cover? In most instances, complimentary credit card insurance will only cover the cardholder, who has to then pay out of pocket for expenses incurred by the spouse, children and anyone else they’re travelling with.
    • Oftentimes, the credit card provider will only offer you travel insurance cover on the condition that you purchase all of your trip essentials using the credit card, and this includes the flights, accommodation and tours.
    • The cover may also come with restrictions on the trip duration. For example, they may state that you’ll only be covered for a trip lasting for a specified period of time, e.g. 3 months.
    • Complimentary credit card travel insurance will also come with a limit on the amount you’ll receive for emergency medical expenses, i.e. no more than $500,000.
    • Most times, adventure sports like skiing, surfing or moped and motorcycle riding are also excluded from the cover.
    • Most complimentary travel insurance policies offered by credit card providers exclude cover for lost, damaged or stolen luggage and valuables.
    • Their excess is also usually higher than normal, and can go up to $500.
    • Most will only cover international travel to the exclusion of domestic journeys.
    • Cover for pre-existing medical conditions? Forget about it!
    • Most of these policies are available on the condition that you purchase a return ticket for your journey, which may not be feasible for someone who’s travelling to multiple destinations.

Essentially, the complimentary travel insurance offered by your credit card provider is simply not enough to fully cover your needs as a traveller, and it doesn’t compare at all with most of the standard policies you’d get from professional travel insurance providers. It basically doesn’t have the amount of features required for solid cover, and benefit amounts it offers are also insufficient.
So, do yourself a favour and take out proper travel insurance that suits your needs.
You’ll find that there are many benefits that come with choosing a separate travel insurance cover, such as:

    • With a standalone policy, you’ll have the option to decide on the level of cover based on your needs, with various available options that range from budget to premium policies.
    • The policies usually cover travel of up to 12 months, which means that you’ll be covered no matter how many trips you make in a year. Extended holiday anyone?
    • There are different levels of cover available to cater for those participating in winter sports or other ‘extreme’ activities like moped or motorcycle riding.
    • You’ll also be covered if your luggage or personal effects are damaged, lost or stolen.
    • You’ll have the option to choose your preferred excess amount.
    • There are cover options available for people with pre-existing medical conditions as well.

Perhaps the most important factor to consider here is that you’ll be purchasing your policy from a trusted and reliable travel insurance company, which has a proven track record. Most provide 24/7 international emergency cover as a standard feature, which you’re not likely to get with a travel insurance policy provided by a credit card company.
While you purchase a cover with the hope that you will never have to use it, sometimes things do go wrong while you’re travelling, and being protected by the right policy will give you a peace of mind.


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