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Maximizing Amex Post 8: Understanding Emergency Travel Assistance and Travel Accident Insurance

by on May 17, 2011 · 30 comments

in American Express, Points Guy Pointers

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This is another installment in my Maximizing Amex series where I examine the benefits of American Express cards and Amex’s Membership Rewards Program. The articles include; Post 1: Understanding the Card Offering. Post 2: Understanding Membership Rewards. Post 3: Understanding Transfer Bonuses. Post 4: Platinum Card Review. Post 5: SkyTeam Transfer Partners. Post 6: Oneworld Transfer Partners. Post 7: Star Alliance Transfer Partners. Post 8:Understanding Emergency Travel Assistance and Travel Accident Insurance. Post 9: Purchase and Return Protection and Extended Warranty. Post 10: Car Rental Benefits. Post 11: Gold and Premier Rewards Gold Card Comparison.

As a points junkie, I admit that I mostly focus on the points and miles aspect of lucrative credit card deals. However, there are a lot of other perks to be had and as every American Express Cardholder should be aware of the  Emergency Travel Assistance and Travel Accident Insurance. While we all hope to never have to use these benefits, knowing they are there can save you a ton of money and aggravation when you are in a time of need. I remember reading through my Platinum Card welcome booklet and coming to this page:
“My wife broke her shoulder while we were visiting the Isle of Elba. I called the Platinum number for help and they flew us to Rome by helicopter. There, they arranged for my wife to be admitted into the hospital while I was booked in a first-class hotel. Then they flew a nurse in from Washington, D.C., and we all flew back to the U.S. First Class – in fact, they arranged for the three of us to be the only ones in the upper, first-class floor of a 747! The nurse took us right to our home and stayed until the doctor arrived. Can you imagine any other card company doing this?”

- Milton V, Card member since 1971″

Wow – Milton certainly got more than his $450 annual fee back that year! While this is an extreme case, let’s examine the key aspects of Emergency Travel Assistance, Purchase Protection and Baggage Insurance from the Cardmember Agreement. Disclaimer: This is not the full Cardmember agreement- I highly recommend reading that in full prior to filing any claims. This is a highlight of the benefits from my Cardmember agreement, so your actual coverage may be different depending on your American Express card and agreement.

Premium Global Assist (Formerly Travel Emergency Assistance):Full details here

Only available to Platinum and Centurion Card members, including additional cardmembers. Must be traveling on a trip of 90 days or less and 100 miles or more from your American Express US billing address. Additional members of the cardmembers family who are traveling with the cardmember are also included: spouse, dependent children under the age of 23 and children under the age of 26 who are enrolled in school on a full-time basis.

24 Hour Contact number within US and Canada: 1-800-345-AMEX (2639) or you can call collect to 1-715-343-7979 or fax 1-715-345-1219 (program these in your cell phone/computer so you don’t have to Google this page when you need the information!)

Services:
- pre-trip information such as weather report, exchange rates and information regarding customs regulations, inoculations and visa requirements
- emergency information will be provided via telephone by a physician when the cardmember is unable to get assistance locally. Information will include the names, local addresses and telephone of local hospitals, lawyers or other providers of emergency services such as US Embassies/Consulates or American Express Travel locations
- medical transport and evacuation will be provided , at no cost, to the covered member to an appropriate medical facility when the Amex physician or local physician decides that it is medically necessary and advisable due to inadequacy of local facilities. Cardmembers will be evacuated to the closest adequate medical facility as determined by American Express. Transport will be covered as long as you don’t 1) Travel against a physician’s advice 2) you are traveling with a pre-existing sickness, illness or injury (anything that has manifested itself, become acute, or was being treated in the 60-day period immediately prior to the start of the trip) 3) you were traveling with the purpose of receiving medical treatment. Note: only transport/services arranged through the Premium Global Assist program will be reimbursed.  PGA does not cover actual medical costs, except the cost incurred during the transport), nor transportation of personal possessions including luggage.
- even though PGA doesn’t cover medical costs, they will ask the healthcare provider to bill the insurance company first and if they reject the claim, then follow up with the cardmember, rather than forcing the cardmember to pay on-site
- if the medical provider demands on-site payment, PGA will help arrange payment from cardmembers’ family/friends upon approval. If needed, up to $5,000 can be provided against the cardmembers account if they authorize.
- PGA will endeavor to post bail bonds, with the cost being born to the cardmember
- if the cardmember is traveling alone or with a child under 16 or if a companion has to leave, PGA will arrange for economy class round-trip travel for another family member to meet the cardmember at the treatment facility, if the cardmember will be hospitalized for 10 days or more. PGA will not pay for meals or accommodation for that family member.
- if the children are unattended when the cardmember is hospitalized, PGA will arrange for one-way coach class travel (with escort if necessary) for the children back home
- if the cardmember needs to be evacuated to another medical facility, PGA will pay for one-way economy class travel for a family member
- passport/visa help will be given if they’ve been lost or stolen
- if the cardmember dies PGA will transport the body back to their residence or place of burial (whichever is closer) and upon approval PGA will also pay for the coffin or other encasement.

Limitations of PGA: act of God, war, civil commotion, labor disputes, unavailability of goods or services or refusal of permission by local authorities. PGA only pays for services arranged by PGA – they will not reimburse the cardmember.

$500,000 Travel Accident Insurance:
Provides accidental death and dismemberment insurance while traveling on a plane, train, helicopter, ship or bus when the entire fare has been charged to your Card. Covered persons include the Cardmember, each additional Cardmember, and each of these Cardmember’s spouses or domestic partners and dependent children under 23 years of age. All covered persons must have a permanent residence within the 50 United States and District of Columbia.

Accidental death or dismemberment: Person will receive $100,000 when due to a loss from an injury while coverage is in force, but only if the loss occurs within 100 days after the date of the accident which caused the injury. If more than one loss is sustained, benefits will be paid for highest loss:
- Loss of life 100%
- Loss of both hands or both feet 100%
- Loss of one hand and one foot 100%
- Loss of entire sight of one eye and one hand or one foot 100%
- Loss of one hand or one foot 50%
- Loss of the entire sight of one eye 50%

To file a claim call 1-800-437-9209

Beneficiary: Cardmember may designate a beneficiary or change a previously designated beneficiary.

Exclusions: Suicide or self-destruction while sane or insane, intentionally self-inflicting injury while sane, war or any act of war, injury to which a contributory cause was the commission of or attempt to commit an illegal act, injury received while acting as a operator or crewmember of  plane, train, helicopter ship or bus. Injury as a result of commutation (serving jailtime), sickness or pregnancy or surgery, unless treatment of the condition is a direct result of the injury.

Account must remain in good standing in order to get these benefits.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Tom

    Does the travel need to be charged to your Amex Plat card in order to be eligible for these benefits?

  • Glenn

    I had the exact same question as Tom.

    This does sound like a pretty great benefit. I typically buy trip insurance when I go to SE Asia in order to cover things like medical evacuation and trip interruption. It usually ends up costing $300+ for my month-long trips. If this card would just cover me the same as that insurance policy it would practically pay for itself before all of the other benefits.

  • kbulo

    Well, it sounds great to have all these services.

    Milton V’s story is nothing short of “wow”. But I’m sure he was charged for all those airfares, hotel stays, helicopter evacuation, and such. Fine print anybody?

  • The Points Guy

    @Tom- I don’t believe so- it doesn’t state that anywhere

    @Kbulo- I agree that seemed a little far fetched, especially since first class travel is not included anywhere in the T&C

  • Glenn

    Maybe Milton had spent millions of dollars on his account over the years since 1971. Do the card companies treat long-term, big spending customers better than newer, light spenders?

  • Dave

    Looking through the FAQs there seems to be a Premium Global Assist available to those who qualify. Any idea of what the added benefits are and how to qualify? (Yes, I’ll call but wanted to post here first.)

  • Matt

    Dave: The “premium” basically means that Amex pays for the medivac etc. rather than just arranging it.

  • http://[email protected] Paul

    Based on my understanding of travel evacuations, it is not unheard of to use first class travel for evacuations. Amex is not being generous, but using a cost effective alternative to a private air ambulance. Medical conditions may allow the patient to fly coach, but larger & lay flat first seats may be sufficient.

  • HikerT

    This is not really trip insurance. If you need trip insurance then buy trip insurance. This coverage doesn’t really touch the surface. Think of it as trip insurance for those who only need catastrophic coverage and otherwise self-insure. If you want trip cancellation insurance look at the benefits provided by the Chase Continental card. Still not a replacement for trip insurance for those who are risk-averse, but if you fall into that category (I don’t) at least realize what your card is covering and what it isn’t.

  • HikerT

    BTW, here are the travel protection benefits provided by the Chase Continental Presidential Plus card:

    https://www.chase.com/online/Credit-Cards/presidential-plus.htm#subsection13

    I signed up for that card to get the bonus miles, but was pretty impressed when I started looking at the benefits. I think you may need to charge your trip to the Chase card to get the benefits but it’s a lot cheaper than $450/year (ignoring the other benefits AMEX provides which may be worth paying $450/year for).

  • HikerT

    Oops, I feel kinda stupid now. I was looking at the benefits for the wrong Continental card. The Presidential Plus is just as expensive as the AMEX so strike my silly comments above. I was thinking of the Chase Continental OnePass Plus card which provides trip cancellation benefits (but not catastrophic coverage like medical evacuation which is a pretty nice benefit to have if you don’t carry trip insurance).

  • Michael

    FYI: On the iPad, I can’t read your posts – they just default to the Amex pop up ad (typing this on iPhone)

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  • Anonymous

    Am I missing something here? Copy and paste from the AMEX PLT travel benefits (link above, directs to a pdf):

    Emergency Medical Transportation Assistance
    In the event that you or another covered family member becomes injured or ill while traveling,
    the Global Assist medical department will assess the need for transportation to the nearest
    appropriate medical facility that will provide suitable quality of care, and set-up and coordinate
    the transport. (You’re responsible for all costs associated with any transport.)

    The pdf seems to indicate that AMEX will help arrange the transport, but the card holder has to pay for it. Have the benefits changed for the writing of this post? Above Brian indicates AMEX will foot the bill?!

    Maybe you are referring to the section entitled: “Emergency Medical Transportation Assistance” on the last page of the pdf. Seems I’m missing something.

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  • Anon

    The Platinum card comes with the “Premium” Global Assist benefit, which in fact will pay for transportation costs to a medical facility in case of an emergency. Says so right on the same PDF you looked at. Therefore, Brian’s post is absolutely correct.

  • Anonymous

    so what do you think points guy? do you buy a yearly travel insurance policy or travel insurance policy by the trip or nothing beyond what is covered to your platinum card? i travel overseas quite a bit and have always bought an additional policy to cover death/dismemberment/other disaster just because they tend to be pretty cheap and provide peace of mind.

  • call amex

    PGA does NOT provide any of the following:

    - if the cardmember is traveling alone or with a child under 16 or if a companion has to leave, PGA will arrange for economy class round-trip travel for another family member to meet the cardmember at the treatment facility, if the cardmember will be hospitalized for 10 days or more. PGA will not pay for meals or accommodation for that family member.
    - if the children are unattended when the cardmember is hospitalized, PGA will arrange for one-way coach class travel (with escort if necessary) for the children back home
    - if the cardmember needs to be evacuated to another medical facility, PGA will pay for one-way economy class travel for a family member
    - passport/visa help will be given if they’ve been lost or stolen
    - if the cardmember dies PGA will transport the body back to their residence or place of burial (whichever is closer) and upon approval PGA will also pay for the coffin or other encasement.

    It’s an assistance department which means it ONLY assists with things and is not an insurance. Call them and they will send you YOUR benefit package for FREE!! Then you will actually get accurate information.

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  • http://www.sentinel-med.com/ Sentinel Med

    What an informative post! I think the better way can be to provide a team of expert doctors and attendants in the flight, instead of offering emergency information through phone. This will be way more effective in ensuring the best care and attention during a flight!

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