Credit Cards with Free Travel Insurance

Credit Cards that include free travel insurance as a complimentary benefit are offered by all the major credit card providers. Free travel insurance credit cards share one key feature, the free travel insurance is only activated if your travel costs are paid for using your credit card, though the specific levels and types of travel spend which activate the insurance cover differ by provider.

The inclusion of complimentary travel insurance with your credit card is certainly convenient and may save you significant costs on travel insurance, though it is important to be aware that the travel insurance provided via your credit card provider will generally not include all the features offered by stand a lone travel insurance policies.  

Credit Card Travel Insurance Cover vs. Stand-a-lone Insurance Policy

Many premium credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance on any travel paid for using your credit card, which can lead to significant savings. To assess the merits of this complimentary offer we compare the travel insurance offered by the credit card companies with travel policies offered by the major insurance companies.

Credit card travel insurance generally includes cover for all the common incidents such as medical emergencies, flight cancellations, delays and protection for baggage and valuables. The terms of the insurance policy, which outline the detail of the cover are likely to be differ from those of a standalone policy so when comparing travel insurance it is imperative that you dive into the detail of the policies terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions of the insurance policies offered with credit cards are featured on the insurance providers web site as opposed to the Credit Card providers web site, as most travel insurance policies provided via credit card providers are issued by a partner insurance company. So for example ANZ and Westpac credit cards feature travel insurance provided by QBE.


Appraising the terms of travel insurance policies

These tips are designed to help appraise each insurance policy and assess if the cover they offer meets your needs.

Pre-existing conditions - Insurance offered by the Credit Card providers do not include automatic cover for any pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure. To add any pre-existing conditions to your policy you will need to contact the insurance company to add these to your policy, which will generally attract a fee.

Excess levels - Standalone travel insurance policies generally include a variable excess, whilst the excess level on credit card travel insurance policies tends to be fixed at a higher rate.

Trip length - Credit card travel insurance generally only covers short trips of up to three months duration whilst standalone travel insurance policies offer cover  for extended periods to suit your travel plans.

Age Limits - Both credit card travel insurance policies and standalone policies generally feature upper age limits, though some credit card travel insurance cover can be found which has no upper age limit.

Country specific cover - Standalone Travel Insurance policies tend to be offered at a country level, so when you sign up for a policy you state the countries you will be visiting on your trip and the policy is then issued to provide cover across these countries, for the duration of your trip. Credit card travel insurance policies tend to adopt a different approach by providing cover at a global level, irrespective of which countries you will be visiting on your travels.

Domestic Travel Cover - Domestic Travel is not included in Credit Card Travel Insurance Policies, though some Platinum and Black credit cards insurance policies include cover for expenses associated with domestic flight delays and missed connections.

Cash coverage - The level of coverage offered on Credit Card Travel Insurance Policies tends to be more favorable than standalone polices, with Cash amounts of up to $1,000 generally covered on Credit Card Insurance Policies compared to $100-$200, on stand a lone policies.


Activating your credit cards insurance policy

The complimentary travel insurance offered with your credit card activates automatically when you use your credit card to book travel services, though its important to be aware of some common conditions which may have to be met for your travel insurance to be valid:

Return Travel - In the majority of cases, the complementary insurance policy is only valid if you book return travel.

Covering your family - To include your family members on your credit card travel insurance policy you will need to use your credit card to purchase their tickets.

Minimum Spend - All free insurance credit cards stipulate a minimum spend level on your travel which is required to activate your insurance policy, this tends to be in the $500-$1,000 range.

Partial Payment - Some insurance providers only require you to pay a portion of the travel costs on the credit card, which can be useful if you're using planning on using frequent flyer points to pay for part of the ticket.


What cover will complimentary credit card travel insurance provide?

If you are planning on using the complimentary travel insurance offered by your credit card you should make sure you understand what the policy covers and ensure that it covers the things you need for your travel. Here a checklist of the main things which credit card travel insurance provides cover for:

General cover - The standard amount of coverage provided by credit card travel insurance is $20,000, which covers baggage and property loss and any flight cancellations.

Who is covered? - Usually only the principal cardholder, though some policies will include your spouse or children under the age of 19 travelling with you. To attain coverage for family members you will have to pay amounts over $900 per person on your credit card for pre-paid travel, such as flights and accommodation.

Medical emergency cover - The majority of credit cards cover international medical insurance, though often they don't cover pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

Injury & accidental death - Most credit cards insurance include accidental death benefits and you are also usually covered if you suffer from illness or become disabled while travelling overseas.

Baggage and property - Most travel credit cards insurance covers luggage and personal items if they are stolen, though exclude luggage lost at the airport. Insurers will often require the original receipt of the item that was stolen and you will generally have to contact the police within 24 hours of the theft and file a report covering details of in the incident..

Rental cars - In the event of a car accident, there is excess cover for rental vehicle insurance.

Loss of income - Some credit card travel insurance covers up to 3 months for loss of income, up to $750 per week and no more than $75,000 in total.

Travel cancellation cover - This is cover for non-refundable deposits you may have put towards your trip, prepaid excursion costs and leisure activities if you cannot make it for certain reasons.

Travel inconvenience cover - This could cover delayed flight departure, flight cancellation, denied flight boarding and miss flight connections, it may also cover your luggage delay or lost luggage.