Complimentary travel insurance has long been a sought after feature of premium credit cards.
Free travel insurance has become one of the most popular credit card bonus features that can help lure a consumer in the combative credit card market.
Before the bags are packed, tourists are embracing travel insurance which provides the modern-day traveller peace of mind and the intrepid globetrotter a huge safety net.
Cover up for the unknown
Things can easily go awry when you’re out of your comfort zone so complimentary insurance comes to the traveller’s rescue with cover that can include:
* Medical cover for your doctor and hospital costs incurred overseas. Generally, pre-existing medical conditions are exempt and some cards can cap it to $500,000. If you do suffer from a medical condition some cards may charge a premium for cover.
* Cancellation fee protection for withdrawing from a planned holiday due to unseen circumstances. This can sometimes only cover the death of a relative, sudden illness of an immediate family member or natural disaster at your port of call or known residence.
* Travel inconvenience cover. This is handy if your luggage goes west and you end up with cancelled or delayed flights.
* Legal liability cover. If you damage someone else’s property or injure someone you will be covered by this.
But before setting off for your big adventure, be mindful of carefully reading what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. For those who live on the edge, bad news is mishaps in extreme sports are generally not covered. So it pays to check before you play.
It is a good way to protect yourself, but the onus is on you to check what you are covered for. Traditionally, travel insurance linked to credit cards generally doesn’t seem to have as much comprehensive cover as a separate individual travel insurance policy.
Credit card insurance usually cover travellers as they age, while in contrast the standalone policies charge much higher premiums for older tourists, especially those over 65.
It is also important to check if your spouse and children are covered, as come credit cards only protect the owners. Some credit cards do cover all family members, but this function may have to be activated for validity.
On the negative side, complimentary travel insurance is valued as a premium attribute so it is normally offered on rewards credit cards that attract higher annual fees and interest rates. For the-not-so-frequent traveller, this may not be beneficial in the long term. Some premium cards can attract expensive annual levies. The higher excess fees can also trip up a lot of people. Credit card travel insurance policies usually cover trips up to a certain timeframe (like 31 days or three months) so it always pays to check the product disclosure statement (PDS) before assuming your trip will be covered.
Typically, your travel insurance is activated when you use your credit card to book flights and accommodation. Cards may also expect you to buy a return ticket to validate insurance cover. Some cards offer the bonus of no overseas transaction fees on purchases whereas others can incur a charge of 2-4 per cent on every transaction made in foreign currency.
Be mindful that most credit cards cover overseas trips only and not all travel policies will cover isolated terrorist-related incidents.
Credit card insurance can save time and money for the frequent traveller, but the level of cover differs depending on the type of card and the insurance writer.
It is critical to compare your options; read the fine print so you can find a credit card or a standalone insurance that fulfil your travel needs.