Guide to Using Your Credit Card's Travel Insurance

••• Photo (c) Jordan Siemens / Getty

Is the travel insurance you get with your credit card really a good deal? Depending on where you’re traveling to, and what kind of other insurance coverage you have, it’s a good idea to look into travel insurance to protect you during a trip. A travel insurance policy may cover you for unexpected things like medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost baggage, and other unexpected accidents or events. Finding a good deal on travel insurance or getting it for free can help cut your trip expenses, many people look to their credit card coverage for this reason.

Knowing if your credit card covers travel insurance and exactly what is covered is important. Here’s a guide to using your credit card’s travel insurance, with tips and checklists to help you find out what kind of insurance is offered (if any), what is covered, and if it will be enough for your trip.

Is Credit Card Travel Insurance Enough?

Even if your credit card includes travel insurance, it doesn’t mean all circumstances are covered. Often you must purchase the trip with the card in order for the travel insurance to be valid. Even then, you need to consider what situations would be covered, for how long, and what the limits are.

By reading the fine print of your credit card coverage, or by calling your credit card company and asking the right questions, you’ll know whether or not the travel insurance coverage they offer is enough or if you should buy separate travel insurance to protect yourself.

9 Things Your Credit Card Travel Insurance May Cover

Each credit card company is different and depending on the type of card you have, you may have more or less coverage. Some credit cards do not cover travel insurance at all.

Here is a checklist of coverages you can ask your credit card company about if you’re planning a trip and want to understand what kind of insurance is (or is not) included as part of your credit card perks. Trip cancellation insurance? Will the credit card company pay you if your trip is canceled? Ask what conditions apply.

  1. Trip interruption or trip delay insurance
  2. Medical Emergency Insurance – medical bills, transportation or medical evacuation (such as air ambulance insurance)
  3. Sickness or illness coverage, doctor or dental visits
  4. Medical assistance or referral services
  5. Accident Insurance (beware of exclusions for extreme or hazardous sports)
  6. Baggage or personal belonging insurance
  7. Hotel theft or burglary insurance
  8. Life insurance
  9. Insurance for rental cars (when asking about this coverage, make sure to find out what the limitations are and who is covered)

Some companies will include cancellation if due to illness, weather, and even illness of a family member or pet. Others may have restricted coverage. You need to ask the specifics to be sure.

Cancellation and delay coverages may have limits, so be sure and find out what they are.

Credit card companies revise their terms and conditions regularly, and a lot of the coverage in credit card perks are at risk of being reduced or eliminated over time. Use the list above as a springboard to find out how limited or extensive your coverage is.

How to Know Which Credit Cards Offer The Best Travel Insurance?

Many credit card companies offer a credit card that will include travel insurance, but not all credit cards cover travel insurance in the same way. Depending on the features of your card and your credit rating, you may qualify for more coverage than you currently have. Sometimes the cards with the most travel insurance may have annual fees associated. Never assume that all credit cards offer the same coverage, ask about the coverage details specifically and see what each company can offer you. If you are a student, be sure and check out this list of the best cards for students.

Sometimes the same credit card company will have different cards available and if the card you have does not have travel insurance included, they may offer you an upgrade to a different card which will give you more perks.

Learn more about the best credit card for travel and decide which is best for you.

Exclusions on Credit Card Travel Insurance

Exclusions, limitations, and coverage gaps are important factors you need to learn about before relying on your card’s travel insurance. Sometimes things are “covered” but then the qualifying events or conditions around the coverage limit how much. Just like any other insurance, each company will offer different terms and conditions.

5 Questions to Ask Your Credit Card Company

  1. What’s included in the coverage? You should ask if you are covered on business-related travel vs. personal travel.
  2. Are there any restrictions on the length of the trip? Some card companies may restrict the coverage to trips of a certain length, for example, is the coverage limited to trips 15 days and under, 30 days, or is there no limitation? In cases where there is a restriction, can you buy a “top-up” to extend coverage for the length of your stay?
  3. Are there any exclusions or limitations for pre-existing medical conditions, age, or health risk? Sometimes if you have had a change in your medical condition, a change in your medications or a pre-existing medical condition, you may not have coverage. Some travel insurance won’t cover you in the third trimester of pregnancy, or if you are involved in high-risk activities. Other travel insurance may have an age limit and may not cover you after a certain age.
  4. Is there a deductible for what percentage of medical costs are covered? Is there a maximum limit that will be paid in various circumstances? When is the claim paid? Do you have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed when you return, or do they cover the costs directly for you?
  5. Who is covered by travel insurance? Typically it would be the spouse and children of the named person on the credit card, but you want to be sure. If you want to cover your children, find out about age limitations. Does it make a difference when the credit card is in your business name, does the insurance still apply in the same way?

Other Places to Find Travel Insurance Coverage

  • Your employee group benefits plan or your spouse or domestic partner’s employee benefits.
  • Your health insurance.
  • Membership associations sometimes provide affordable travel insurance or include limited travel insurance as part of their perks.
  • Your home, renter insurance, or car insurance company may offer you coverage for many of the things related to your liability or personal property when traveling.