How Accidental Death Travel Insurance Works

Some travel cards offer travel life insurance as a benefit, but an additional policy might be necessary.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 

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Vacations are always exciting. The chance to get out of town, see some new things and explore new places is an opportunity many dreams of. However, traveling is always risky, especially if you intend to undertake activities such as hiking or bungee jumping. Travel insurance can help protect you if things go awry, with coverage such as emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance and accidental death insurance. But do you need travel life insurance — and how does it work? Let's take a look.

What is travel insurance?

There are many different kinds of travel insurance available to customers, and the type you'll need will depend on travel style, destination and how long you'll be away. Generally speaking, here are some of the more common types of travel insurance:

Does travel insurance cover death?

You'll find a few different varieties of coverage within the broader accidental death travel insurance umbrella. Generally speaking, the way that accidental death travel insurance works is that you'll purchase a policy covering the period that you're away. Then, if a covered accident occurs, you or your designated beneficiary will receive the payout from your insurance company. Despite its name, accidental death travel insurance can cover more than just death. Here are some different types of injuries that your insurance policy may cover:

  • Loss of life.

  • Loss of speech and/or hearing.

  • Loss of thumb and index finger on the same hand.

  • Loss of hand/s.

  • Loss of foot/feet.

  • Loss of eye/s.

The amount you'll be paid will be determined by the policy you've purchased and the extent of your injuries. Depending on your policy, your spouse and unmarried children may also be covered against accidental death. You'll also want to be aware that different accidental death travel insurance policies can cover you at different times. Accidental death flight insurance, as you'd suspect, will provide coverage for you while you're flying. Meanwhile, 24-hour accidental death insurance will protect you anytime during your trip. You don't need to be traveling for your policy to be enacted, though there are certain limitations to this. For example, don't expect to be covered while you're in the middle of skydiving. Finally, common carrier accidental death insurance insures you while traveling on any ticketed public transportation. This can be flights, buses, ferries or even trains. » Learn more: What to know before buying travel insurance

How to get accidental death travel insurance

Just like there are multiple types of travel insurance, there are various ways to acquire accidental death travel insurance.

Buy a policy

Probably the most common option is to purchase a policy for life insurance from an insurance company. Whether you're looking for accidental death insurance or trip cancellation insurance, you can find policies to cover various issues from providers. Before you buy a plan, be sure to gather as many quotes as possible. Different levels of coverage will affect the cost of your policy, as will your age, travel dates, destination and residency. Websites like Squaremouth can help you find the best policy to suit your needs. For example, Squaremouth compares coverages and costs from a wide variety of providers on a single screen as an aggregator. Expect insurance coverage amounts ranging from $10,000 to $1 million. » Learn more: The best travel insurance companies

Use your credit card

If you hold a travel credit card, you may be eligible to receive accidental death insurance for free. Many different types of credit cards provide trip insurance, including:

  • Trip cancellation insurance.

  • Trip delay insurance.

  • Emergency medical insurance.

  • Accidental death insurance.

The type of insurance you'll receive will vary greatly depending on which card you hold, so you'll want to read your guide to benefits carefully if this is something you'll be relying on. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, provides you two types of accidental death insurance. You'll be covered throughout your trip with 24-hour coverage if you charge your travel bookings to the card. The coverage limits and payouts will differ, however, based on when the incident occurs.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Chase's 24-hour travel accident insurance only covers you for the first 30 days you're out of the country.

The Platinum Card® from American Express, meanwhile, will only provide you with common carrier accidental death insurance, though you'll also be covered when en route to and from your common carrier. Terms apply. » Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now

Filing a claim

The process for making a claim on your insurance will vary based on your provider. For example, you may need to contact a benefits administrator or create a file online. Usually, you'll have a specific period during which you must report the incident, file the claim and complete your documentation. Documents that you can expect to turn in with your claim include the following:

  • Your completed claim form.

  • A copy of your travel itinerary.

  • A police report confirming the accident.

  • A death certificate.

Have a plan for submitting the required documentation ahead of your trip. » Learn more: Does travel insurance cover medical expenses?

Accidental death travel insurance recapped

Travel insurance, as a whole, can be a good option for you if you're worried about accidents while you're away from home. Along with emergency medical and trip cancellation insurance, accidental death insurance can provide you and your family coverage when things go wrong. Before buying a policy, however, be sure to check if your credit card already provides complimentary travel life insurance. Doing so can save you money while ensuring you're always protected.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Travel Insurance from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

on Chase's website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

See more cards
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