Credit cards are brilliant, but crafty.
They offer a plate full of perks to keep you keen on spending.
Travel insurance is one of those “perks” offered as a ‘free’ benefit with high end credit cards. Although the commonly used term is “complimentary travel insurance” it’s not necessarily “free”, as the premium will be added to your annual credit card fee and the “free” insurance will only be activated when you put a significant amount of your travel expenses through your credit card such as the flights and accommodation.
So, the question is whether the travel insurance supplied by your credit card is going to cut it! Or would you be better off buying a standalone policy? Let’s take a closer look.
CREDIT CARD TRAVEL INSURANCE PROS
- Hassle “free.
- Good coverage – provides cover for overseas medical expenses, trip cancellations, flight delays, lost baggage/travel documents, money, personal liability and more. Although many will not cover you for items stolen from a public place or unmanned vehicle.
- Coverage for 3 months or 6 months trips.
- Not location specific – go from Australia to Singapore to Japan to Nairobi without taking out multiple policies for longer overseas trips.
- Underwritten by quality underwriters who also underwrite standalone travel insurance policies.
CREDIT CARD TRAVEL INSURANCE CONS
Only the cardholder gets the benefits. The main benefits are only available to the cardholder.
Other credit cards such as Amex, Bankwest, NAB, ANZ, Westpac and Commonwealth cover secondary cardholders, spouses and dependents, provided that they meet similar activation criteria such as having a certain amount of their prepaid travel costs paid on the card and provided that they are travelling with the cardholder during the trip.
May cost more than a standalone policy.
Annual card fees can be hefty. Depending upon your trip details, a standalone policy may be cheaper than your credit card annual fee.
May not cover pre-existing conditions
Most credit card travel insurance policies specifically exclude pre-existing conditions from cover.
Level of cover could turn out “not so favourable”.
Credit Cards may “say” it can offer unlimited cover for overseas medical expenses, a more common limit is around $500,000, whereas standalone policies are more likely to have no limits.
You could end up in a hospital overseas and your medical bills could easily go over $500,000. It is important to assess your individual circumstances each time you travel.
Standalone policies let you add extra levels of cover for things like expensive valuables or pre-existing conditions. This is something you don’t want to tighten your belt on.
Will not cover high-risk activities. If you plan on walking on the wild side and taking part in adventure activities such as bungee jumping, scuba diving or skiing, perhaps do your research first. Standalone policies will allow you to pay an extra premium to cover these whilst credit cards simply will not cover you.
Age based benefits.
Let’s take for example NAB credit card travel insurance. They offer overseas emergency assistance, medical and dental expenses to under 76-year old’s but not to those aged between 76 to under 91 years.
|Credit Card Provider
|Maximum age for standard coverage
|AMEX / COMM BANK / BANKWEST
|ANZ / ST GEORGE / WESTPAC
Most policies include alcohol exclusions, but you’ll need to read the fine print to find out how much is too much when it comes to alcohol and travel insurance.
**Please ensure to read your credit card product disclosure statement (PDS) or the “fine print” to make sure you are getting the bang for your buck.