When do you still need travel insurance even if some credit cards offer protection?
If you’re taking an inexpensive trip, the cancellation and delay protections folded into a travel credit card will probably suffice.
But if you’re making a large deposit on a blowout vacation or traveling internationally, an independent travel insurance policy is best.
Travel policies cover you under more circumstances if you must cancel a trip, and you can customize your policy in a variety of ways.
For example, you can add riders that cover adventure activities, allow you to cancel for any reason or include coverage of pre-existing health conditions.
You can insure the entire prepaid, nonrefundable portion of your trip, whereas a credit card carries an annual or per-trip limit.
Plus, you’ll need to pay for all or part of your trip with that card, depending on the issuer’s terms and conditions.
Travel credit cards are especially weak when it comes to medical care and medical evacuation.
Although many include travel accident insurance, which provides reimbursement if you or someone in your party dies or is dismembered on a trip, few cards will cover you for unexpected illnesses, injuries and medevac.
But a third-party policy will cover these emergencies at limits you specify.
Even premium credit cards with fairly strong insurance benefits have gaps.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) and Citi Prestige ($495 annual fee) consistently rank well among credit credits for travel insurance benefits, according to Katherine Fan, senior travel features reporter at ThePointsGuy.com.
The Reserve card offers up to $10,000 per person in cancellation and interruption insurance, reimbursement of up to $500 per ticket for expenses related to a delayed trip of more than six hours, up to $3,000 per passenger for lost luggage and up to $100 a day for five days for essentials in delayed baggage.
The Reserve also provides up to $100,000 in evacuation coverage for injury or illness, plus reimbursement for emergency medical or dental expenses, but only up to $2,500.
The Citi Prestige card provides up to $5,000 per trip in cancellation and interruption insurance, reimbursement of up to $500 for expenses related to a delayed trip, up to $3,000 per passenger for lost luggage, up to $500 for delayed baggage and up to $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage, but no coverage for medical expenses.
A comprehensive policy will typically run 5% to 10% of your total trip cost. Alternatively, you can insure only for emergency medical and medevac for a lower premium.