Is My Credit Card Travel Insurance Good Enough?

One of the perks of travel reward credit cards, is the included travel insurance. Despite having this myself, I always buy travel insurance regardless. But today I finally asked myself Is my credit card travel insurance good enough? Am I wasting my money? So I went deep into the fine print to get the answer. Spoiler alert: the final answer is “it depends”.

Always trying to win the points game, I have three travel reward credit cards. I’ll compare the insurance on these cards with a policy I purchased from a travel insurance company ($179.99). I read all four policies from cover to cover (yawn!), but will only focus on emergency medical, trip interruption, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and car rental coverage. Specifically, what coverage do I get if:

  1. I was hospitalized during my cruise, I’m better now, and want to re-join the trip at the next port
  2. A snow storm caused my plane to depart late, and I subsequently missed my connection
  3. I got into a car accident on the way to the airport and have to cancel my trip
  4. My rental car was broken into
  5. The airline lost my luggage

*  Note: My comparison does not take in all the legal jargon, specific exclusions, or caveats and should not be used to make insurance purchase decisions. Travel insurance is very complicated, and you should read your own credit card policies carefully before making any decisions. For this reason, I did not name the credit card or insurance companies used in this comparison.

* Another Note: This stuff is boring AF. But it’s important. If you’d prefer the Coles Notes version, then I invite you to scroll waaaaay down to the end where I summarize my findings. You’re welcome.

The Difference Between Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, and Travel Delay

Before we dive into my five scenarios, it’s important to understand the difference between these three protections:

Trip Cancellation covers you in the event you have to cancel the trip prior to departing for any of the covered reasons listed in your policy (scenario #3 above).

Trip Interruption reimburses you for the portion of the trip you can’t take because the trip has been interrupted due to an illness, accident, or maybe you have to return home due to a death in the family. This insurance covers the portion of the trip you had to cancel, and will get you home if necessary, and may cover to get you back to your trip once the emergency is over (scenario #1 and #2).

Travel Delay helps you if in the middle of your travels you get stuck at an airport due to weather or other delay and provides you with hotel, taxi, and meals (scenario #2).

“I was hospitalized during my cruise. I’m better now, and want to re-join the trip at the next port.”

Credit Card #1: you’re covered, enjoy the rest of the cruise!

  • Your insurance coverage begins the day you leave home, and extends for 15 days if you are under 65, but only 3 days if you are over 65.
  • This plan covers you, your spouse, and your dependent child provided you each have valid government health insurance. Dependent child is unmarried, under 21, under 26 if a full-time student, or mentally or physically totally reliant on you.
  • Covers reasonable and customary medical and hospital expenses, in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan or any other insurance plan.
  • Reimbursement of the non-refundable unused portion of your prepaid travel arrangements excluding the cost of your transportation home.
  • Your one-way economy airfare via the most cost effective route to your next destination.
  • If you do not call the insurance provider before you seek emergency treatment, or if you choose to seek care from a non-approved medical provider, you will be responsible for 20% of your medical expenses covered under the plan.
  • The maximum amount payable for each covered person per trip is $5,000, to a maximum of $25,000 for your family.

Credit Card #2: you’ll be taken care of, but your cruise is over. At least they’ll fly over a friend if you’re alone.

  • Your insurance coverage begins the day you leave home, and extends for 15 days if you are under 65.
  • This plan covers you, your spouse, and your dependent child provided you each have valid government health insurance. Dependent child is unmarried, under 21, under 25 if a full-time student, or mentally or physically totally reliant on you.
  • Covers reasonable and customary expenses, in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan or any other insurance plan.
  • The extra cost of a one-way economy fare on a commercial flight via the most cost-effective route home. This also covers your dependent children if you were in the hospital for more than 24 hours.
  • If you do not call the insurance provider before you seek emergency treatment, or if you choose to seek care from a non-approved medical provider, you will be responsible for 20% of your medical expenses covered under the plan.
  • If you are travelling alone, and are in the hospital for more than 3 days, your plan covers the cost of round-trip economy transportation and expenses of $300 in order to bring a bedside companion to you.
  • The maximum amount payable for each covered person per trip is $5,000,000 for reasonable and customary expenses in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan for medically required emergency services.

Credit Card #3: you’ll be taken care of, but your cruise is over.

  • Your insurance coverage begins the day you leave home, and extends for 15 days if you are under 65.
  • This plan covers you, your spouse, and your dependent child provided you each have valid government health insurance. Dependent child is unmarried, under 20, under 25 if a full-time student, or mentally or physically totally reliant on you.
  • Covers reasonable and customary expenses, in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan or any other insurance plan.
  • Transport on a licensed airline for emergency return home for immediate medical attention.
  • If you do not call the insurance provider before you seek emergency treatment, or within 24 hours of being admitted to hospital, you may not be covered.
  • You do not need to charge your trip to this credit card in order to be eligible for emergency medical benefits, provided your account is in good standing, and you have government insurance.
  • If you charged all or part of your trip to this card, you will be reimbursed for the extra cost of a one-way economy airfare to your departure point or destination point and any unused non-refundable land arrangements up to a maximum of $2,000 per insured person.

Purchased Policy: you’re covered, enjoy the rest of the cruise! But if that’s not possible, at least they’ll fly over a friend to be with you.

  • Your insurance coverage begins the day you leave home, and extends for the actual period of your trip (in my case 30 days). To be eligible for coverage under this policy, you must be under 66 years old and be travelling for a maximum of 365 days.
  • You must state who is going on the trip, therefore this plan covers only me.
  • Covers reasonable and customary expenses, in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan or any other insurance plan.
  • Transport on a licensed airline for emergency return home for immediate medical attention. This extends to your travelling companion and/or children travelling with you. Once home, if your physician approves it, you are covered to rejoin your trip.
  • You are covered for economy class transportation to rejoin your planned itinerary, tour or group; and a subsistence allowance of $150/day up to $1,500.
  • If you do not call the insurance provider before you seek emergency treatment, or as soon as medically possible, or if you choose not to receive treatment or services provided by the insurer, you will be responsible for 30% of any eligible expenses and there will be no subsequent coverage arising from the medical condition.
  • If you are travelling alone, and are in the hospital for more than 3 days, your plan covers the cost of round-trip economy transportation and expenses of $150 per day up to a maximum of $1,500 in order to bring a bedside companion to you.
  • The maximum amount payable for each covered person per trip is $5,000,000 for reasonable and customary expenses in excess of any medical expenses payable by your government health insurance plan for medically required emergency services.

“A snow storm caused my plane to depart late and I subsequently missed my connection.”

Now in this case, the airline should get you on another plane….eventually. However they are under no obligation to hotel you or feed you if the delay is weather related.

Credit Card #1: Get a room, have a meal, read a magazine, you’re covered!

If no alternative onward transportation is made available within 4 hours of deplaning, you are covered for necessary and reasonable living expenses incurred within 48 hours of deplaning and other sundry items such as toiletries and a magazine to a maximum of $500.

Credit Card #2: Get a room, have a meal, read a magazine, you’re covered!

If no alternative onward transportation is made available within 4 hours of deplaning, you are covered for necessary and reasonable living expenses incurred within 48 hours of deplaning and other sundry items such as toiletries and a magazine to a maximum of $500.

Credit Card #3: Get a room, have a meal, read a magazine, you’re covered!

Flight delay benefits are payable in the event of a delay of more than 6 hours. You will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $500 for reasonable additional accommodations and travelling expenses incurred as a result of the delay.

Purchased Policy: Get a room, have a meal, read a magazine, you’re covered!

If your regularly scheduled common carrier is delayed for 3 hours or is cancelled due to inclement weather, you are covered for any additional expenses if you choose to turn around and go home. You are also covered for eligible subsistence costs (food and hotel) of $150/day up to a maximum of $1,500.

“I got into a car accident on the way to the airport and have to cancel my trip.”

Credit Card #1: Sorry, you’re not covered.

No trip cancellation is included in the policy.

Credit Card #2: Sorry, you’re not covered.

No trip cancellation is included in the policy.

Credit Card #3: Remember to get a police report – you’re covered! 

If you miss a scheduled departure as ticketed due to a traffic accident, and you subsequently arrive at the airport less than 2 hours before your departure, causing you to miss the flight, you can be covered for the cost of a one-way economy fare to catch up to the tour. If you must cancel the trip, you will be reimbursed for the prepaid portion of the trip which is non-refundable or non-transferable to another travel date, up to $2,500 per person to a maximum of $5,000 per account.

Purchased Policy: Sorry, you’re not covered.

“Traffic accident” is not listed under the insurable reasons to cancel a trip. However if you die in the accident, there’s a good chance you can get up to $2,500.

Covered risks include medical conditions and death, travel advisory, natural disaster, felonious assault, strike or if your travel supplier goes bankrupt.

“My rental car was broken into.”

Credit Card #1: You’re covered for the car only.

The coverage is primary insurance, unless you opted for the rental agency’s CDW insurance. So as long as you declined CDW, you and/or the rental agency are covered for loss/damages up to the actual cash value of the damaged or stolen rental vehicle, as well as towing, and loss of use charges.

Coverage is for the vehicle only, and does not include your personal items that may have been stolen as a result of the break-n.

Credit Card #2: You’re covered for the car only.

If the card member rents a vehicle for longer than 48 days, he is not covered under this insurance, including for the first 48 days. However, you can break the 48 day cycle by placing one full day in between rental agreements.

Coverage is not available for cars valued at more than $85,000.

You must decline the rental agency’s CDW. If there is no option to decline, then the renter must write on the agreement “I decline the CDW provided by the rental agency”. Otherwise, the rental company takes responsibility for any claim, and the renter’s insurance will only pay the deductible.

If you decline CDW, you and/or the rental agency are covered for loss/damages up to the actual cash value of the damaged or stolen rental vehicle, as well as towing, and loss of use charges.

Coverage is for the vehicle only, and does not include your personal items that may have been stolen as a result of the break-n.

Credit Card #3: You’re covered for the car AND your stuff!

If the card member rents a vehicle for longer than 48 days, he is not covered under this insurance, including for the first 48 days. However, you can break the 48 day cycle by placing one full day in between rental agreements.

Coverage is not available for cars valued at more than $65,000.

You must decline the rental agency’s CDW. If there is no option to decline, then the renter must write on the agreement “I decline the CDW provided by the rental agency”. Otherwise, the rental company takes responsibility for any claim, and the renter’s insurance will only pay the deductible.

If you decline CDW, you and/or the rental agency are covered for loss/damages up to the actual cash value of the damaged or stolen rental vehicle, as well as towing, and loss of use charges.

Coverage includes your personal effects if they were damaged or stolen during the break-in. However, you must show that you took reasonable care by proving the doors and windows were locked at the time of the break-in, or that you kept your items in the trunk of the car. Coverage of your personal effects are to a maximum of $1,000 per insured person per occurrence, and up to a maximum of $2,000 per account. Personal effects does not include cash or tickets.

Purchased Policy: No coverage – I hope you opted for the rental agency’s CDW.

No rental vehicle coverage is included in the policy.

“The airline lost my luggage”

Movara Fitness Resort What to Pack

Credit Card #1: Go shopping, you’re covered!

Coverage begins 4 hours after the arrival of your flight, when the luggage you had checked with the air carrier is lost or delayed.

Reimbursement up to a maximum of $500 per insured person for the reasonable and necessary expenses you incur with respect to emergency purchases (minimum essential clothing and toiletries deemed absolutely essential).

Credit Card #2: Go shopping, you’re covered!

Coverage begins 6 hours after the arrival of your flight, when the luggage you had checked with the air carrier is lost or delayed.

Reimbursement up to a maximum of $500 per insured person for the reasonable and necessary expenses you incur with respect to emergency purchases (minimum essential clothing and toiletries deemed absolutely essential).

Replacement items must be purchased within 4 days of the arrival to the outbound scheduled destination point and prior to the return of the luggage.

Credit Card #3: Go shopping, you’re covered!

Coverage begins 6 hours after the arrival of your flight, when the luggage you had checked with the air carrier is lost or delayed.

Reimbursement up to a maximum of $200 per insured person for the reasonable and necessary expenses you incur with respect to emergency purchases (minimum essential clothing and toiletries deemed absolutely essential). Reimbursement to a maximum of $500 for other items lost, but does not include such things as money, camera, prescription glasses, computer or jewelry.

Replacement items must be purchased within 36 hours of the arrival to the outbound scheduled destination point and prior to the return of the luggage.

Purchased Policy: Go shopping tomorrow, you’re covered!

Coverage begins 12 hours after the arrival of your flight, when the luggage you had checked with the air carrier is lost or delayed.

Reimbursement considers the depreciated value of the item, and allows for a maximum of $500 for any one item.

For delayed baggage up to 12 hours, $100 for necessary personal effects.

For theft or damaged luggage, you will be reimbursed up to a total maximum of $1,000.

Is My Credit Card Travel Insurance Good Enough? (Coles Notes Version)

Well, I did a very rough scoring based on the summaries above, and here are the results:

1st Place – with 16 points, Purchased Policy

2nd Place – with 14 points, Credit Card #3

3rd Place – with 13 points, Credit Card #1

4th Place – with 10 points, Credit Card #2

The points aren’t far enough apart to declare the purchased policy a winner. Remember, the credit card policies were free, and the purchased policy cost me $179.77.

BUT…. it’s important to remember that with most credit cards, the insurance only kicks in when you purchase the trip with that particular card. Kudos for Credit Card #3 for being much less strict in this category.

ALSO…. the 3 credit card policies are only valid for 15 days. You must contact the provider if you want to extend beyond 15 days, and that will cost you extra.

You also have to consider what’s valuable to you in each policy. The lost luggage coverage isn’t nearly as important as the medical coverage. However in my case, I have employee coverage for out-of-province medical emergencies. Also, who cares about rental car insurance if you don’t plan to rent a car?

I am pleasantly surprised at the value of the credit card coverage. For future trips longer than 15 days, i plan to call Credit Card #3 up and ask how much an extension will cost me so I can truly compare the coverage before making a purchase somewhere else.

If you’re dying to know which cards I compared, and which company I used to purchase a policy, leave a comment below and subscribe to my blog. I’ll send you an email with the details 🙂

 

 

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  2. Would love to know the credit card names – however I am Canadian so possibly not able to get any of the cards mentioned? Thx

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