Is Credit Card Travel Insurance Sufficient on Its Own?

Feb 5, 2019

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Traveling is supposed to be a relaxing and joyful experience, but when you’re far away from home, things can still go wrong. Weather events, medical problems, accidents and other mishaps all have the potential to derail your trip. Thankfully many of our favorite travel rewards credit cards offer some form of travel insurance, but TPG reader Martin wants to know if that’s enough or if he should consider additional coverage as well …

We recently got a Chase Sapphire Reserve card and we’re wondering if the card’s travel insurance – specifically trip interruption and more importantly, medical expense and emergency evacuation – is sufficient to preclude the need for third party coverage?

TPG READER MARTIN

At the end of the day, Martin is asking a very personal question. It’s up to each and every individual to decide what risks they are comfortable taking and which they would like to insure against. The good news is that Martin picked the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers a comprehensive suite of travel insurance and protections. Let’s take a look at the limitations of his coverage and highlight some instances where he might want to supplement his coverage.

Scale of Coverage

Martin asked specifically about medical expense and emergency evacuation. His Sapphire Reserve covers him, his spouse and his dependent children (under 18 unless they are enrolled in college) for up to $100,000 of transportation, medical services and medical supplies needed for an emergency evacuation. Of course this is a pretty dire scenario to think about, but assuming Martin speaks to a benefits administrator and gets the evacuation pre-approved, this should be sufficient coverage for most cases. There are some exclusions listed on the Sapphire Reserve benefits page, including travel for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, non-emergency services or experimental care. Unless Martin is taking a trip that is not eligible for this coverage (less than 5 days, longer than 60 days or less than 100 miles from his home) or is worried about an even more expensive medical concern, the Sapphire Reserve coverage should be sufficient.

Scope of Coverage

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04: JetBlue airplanes wait at the gates outside terminal five at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 4, 2018 in the Queens borough of New York City. A winter storm is traveling up the east coast of the United States dumping snow and creating blizzard like conditions in many areas. (Photo by Rebecca Butala How/Getty Images)
Weather-related delays or cancellations typically fall within the bounds of “covered losses” for most credit cards’ policies. (Photo by Rebecca Butala How/Getty Images)

The Sapphire Reserve comes with a lengthy list of travel protections, many of which you may not even know you have. These include:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver (which is primary in most cases)
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Roadside assistance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • Emergency medical and dental benefit

Each of these policies has its own terms and conditions, which I strongly encourage you to read to see how they might apply to your specific trip. If you’re unsure, you can always call Chase and speak to a benefits administrator.

That being said, here are a few potential circumstances that are not covered by the Reserve’s various insurance policies where you might want to consider buying a supplemental plan:

  • If you have to cancel your trip for work-related reasons like rescheduling a meeting or interviewing for a new job or promotion (though changes in military orders are typically covered)
  • If you are traveling against the advice of a physician
  • If the trip is less than 100 miles from your home
  • If your lost luggage includes items like valuable documents, cash, cash equivalents or furs

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as with most policies the list of eligible circumstances is far shorter than the list of excluded ones. That being said, if you’re planning an upcoming trip and stuffing your suitcase full of expensive furs, travelers checks and your entire family’s passports, you might want to consider a supplementary insurance plan.

Bottom Line

How much insurance is right for any one person or any trip is a personal question more than anything else. It’s impossible to foresee all the things that might possibly go wrong, but a good place to start is thoroughly reading the terms of your credit card’s insurance benefits (and calling to ask questions if you have any). This will give you a clearer understanding of what is and isn’t covered, and, in the event you need to seek out additional third-party insurance, help you look for a plan that meets your specific needs.

Thanks for the question, Martin, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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