7 Times Your Credit Card’s Travel Insurance Might Not Cover You

Aug 23, 2019

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Travel insurance is a great perk that comes with a number of travel reward credit cards. If you’re traveling and something goes wrong — like lost luggage, a trip delay, or an an unplanned medical emergency — there’s a chance your credit card’s travel protection could save you a lot of money.

(For a list of several credit cards that offer travel protections and a comparison of the types of benefits offered, check out this helpful guide.)

Although some level of travel insurance can be a valuable credit card benefit, it’s also important to realize that it won’t cover every scenario. Like any type of insurance coverage, there are times when the travel insurance that comes with your credit card might not protect you.

Every policy is different, and you’ll need to check with your card issuer to confirm specific policy details and limitations. (You can probably even find a full guide to your card’s benefits and exclusions online.) In the meantime, here are a few examples of times your credit card’s travel insurance probably won’t be helpful:

7 Times Your Credit Card’s Travel Insurance Might Not Cover You

  1. You didn’t pay with the right credit card. Some card issuers require you to pay for travel-related expenses (or at least a portion of them) with their specific card to be covered if something goes wrong. Let’s say you pay for your flights and hotel room with your Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, but you use something else to pay for the excursions on your trip. In this scenario, the excursions might not be covered if your travel plans are unexpectedly cut short because a hurricane rolls into town.
  2. You have a pre-existing medical condition. If you need to cancel your trip due to a pre-existing medical condition, you may have a hard time getting reimbursement with your card’s trip cancellation coverage. The same rule of thumb may apply if you need emergency medical evacuation during your trip. (If you didn’t know about the medical condition in advance, you might be able to make a case when you file a claim.)
  3. You’re traveling for the purpose of medical treatment. This hits pretty close to the definition of traveling with a pre-existing condition. If the purpose of your trip is to seek medical treatment, there’s a good chance your credit card’s insurance policy won’t cover you if a problem comes up.
  4. The length of the trip is too long or too short to qualify for coverage. The travel insurance policy offered through your credit card may only apply to trips of a certain length. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, if you’re traveling fewer than five days or more than 60 days, you won’t be covered.
  5. You’re traveling in a war zone. Whether war breaks out before or after you arrive at your destination, your card’s travel insurance benefits likely won’t cover you in the event you need medical care or your trip needs to suddenly be cut short.
  6. You’re not traveling far enough. Are your travels keeping you close to home? Your credit card’s travel insurance policy might not kick in. You’ll need to travel at least 100 miles from home, for example, if you plan to file a claim for benefits through your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
  7. You’ve filed a claim recently. Some credit card travel insurance policies have an upper limit of how much money you can claim for reimbursement per 12-month period. So, if you’ve already filed a large claim in the last 12 months, you might not be eligible to get paid for another. (Note: The Platinum Card® from American Express offers many of its benefits per trip, so you may not have to worry as much about this particular limit if you’re a cardholder.)

All Protection Isn’t Created Equal

It’s worth pointing out that the travel insurance provided by different credit card issuers comes with different types of coverage. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card both offer insurance coverage for trip cancellation and trip interruption. The Amex Platinum card does not.

The Amex Platinum Card and the Sapphire Reserve both offer its card holders emergency medical evacuation insurance up to $100,000. The United Club Card, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card do not include this benefit.

Here’s another helpful guide that shows how seven popular premium cards stack up against each other, including the travel insurance perks and other coverage they offer.

The information for the United Club card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Should You Get More Coverage?

No one likes to think about what could go wrong when you travel away from home. Unfortunately, sometimes problems and even disasters happen while people are traveling. But if you have the right travel rewards credit cards (and you understand how its benefits work), you can enjoy some peace of mind.

You can also consider adding on third-party travel insurance if you want to beef up your coverage. Sometimes independent travel insurance may cover you at times when your credit card’s travel insurance policy does not.

Additional travel insurance comes at a cost. Sometimes the investment makes sense; other times it doesn’t. If you’re considering a separate travel insurance policy, it’s a good idea to compare costs, benefits and coverage limitations in advance.

Bottom Line

Whether you choose to pay for additional third-party travel insurance or not, it’s helpful to learn about the travel protections your credit cards sitting in your wallet may offer you. Just remember to learn about the rules and limitations of your card’s travel insurance benefits — otherwise, you might be in for a surprise if you ever need to use them.


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