Advertiser Disclosure

Your Guide to AmEx Trip Cancellation and Travel Insurance

Nov. 28, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

No one wants to think about a potential accident or baggage loss when planning a trip, but sometimes these unfortunate events happen. When booking a major trip, having travel insurance is always advisable.

If you hold a travel credit card, these cards usually come with a bunch of travel insurance benefits. Although it’s easy to gloss over the fine print of insurance policies included with your travel card, understanding the details of your included travel benefits is pretty important if something goes wrong on your trip.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the travel insurance benefits offered by six popular American Express cards:

Currently, all six credit cards offer car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance and access to the Global Assist Hotline. Both Platinum cards offer access to AmEx’s Premium Global Assist Hotline. Terms apply.

Upcoming changes to benefits

In October 2019, AmEx announced a bunch of upcoming changes to its credit cards, which includes the addition and removal of certain insurance benefits. Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, travel accident insurance and roadside assistance will no longer be offered on any American Express cards.

In an email to NerdWallet, an AmEx spokesperson said these benefits “were not popular with our card members and utilized by less than 1%.” Basically, the cost of providing these benefits didn’t make sense for AmEx given how infrequently the perks were used.

Also on Jan. 1, 2020, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express will see trip cancellation/interruption insurance added to their already robust offerings. Additionally, all of the above except the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express will receive trip delay insurance. Terms apply.

Typically, these insurance benefits are secondary to your existing policies — so before these benefits kick in, you must first seek reimbursement with your primary insurance providers.

» Learn more: Full review of the AmEx Platinum card

Current benefits

Car rental loss and damage insurance

This benefit provides the cardholder (as the primary renter) with coverage for auto theft or damage on rental cars as long as the rental is charged to the credit card. The following maximum amount per rental agreement will apply based on the type of card you hold:

CardCar rental coverage
The Platinum Card® from American Express$75,000
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express$75,000
American Express® Gold Card$50,000
American Express® Business Gold Card$50,000
American Express® Green Card$50,000
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express$50,000

Terms apply.

The amount reimbursed is calculated as whichever is lowest: the cost to repair the rental car, the wholesale book value (minus salvage and depreciation) or the invoice purchase price (minus salvage and depreciation).

Here are some key exclusions to be aware of with this coverage:

  • These policies do not cover theft or damage that was caused by a driver’s illegal operation of the car, operation under the influence of drugs/alcohol or damage caused by any acts of war. They also do not cover drivers not named as “authorized drivers” on your rental agreement.
  • The benefit only covers car rentals up to 30 consecutive days.
  • Not all cars are included with the policy. Certain trucks, commercial vans, antique cars, limousines, motorcycles and campers are excluded from coverage.
  • Insurance protection does not apply in Australia, Italy, New Zealand and any country subject to U.S. sanctions.

Your policy is activated when you decline the full collision damage waiver offered by your rental agency. Keep in mind that you do still need to purchase liability insurance when making your rental car reservation, as this coverage does not include personal liability.

You can file a claim online or call toll-free in the U.S. at 800-338-1670. From overseas, call collect 216-617-2500. Your claim must be filed within 30 days of the loss.

Additionally, some benefits vary by state, so check the policy for your specific card.

Baggage insurance

If you lose your luggage and hold an AmEx card, you’re entitled to receive compensation from AmEx in addition to what you may receive from the carrier.

AmEx provides this insurance to “covered persons” in the event of baggage loss. Covered individuals include the below, as long as they’re traveling on the same reservation and are residents of the U.S., Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • The cardmember.
  • Their spouse or domestic partner.
  • Their dependent children under 23 years old.

This policy is secondary, which means that the benefits kick in after the carrier provides any compensation for your losses. The reimbursement limits vary by card as shown in the table below:

CardBaggage in-transit to/from common carrierCarry-on baggageChecked luggageCombined maximumHigh-end items
The Platinum Card® from American Express$3,000$3,000$2,000$3,000$1,000
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express$3,000$3,000$2,000$3,000$1,000
American Express® Gold Card$1,250$1,250$500$3,000$250
American Express® Business Gold Card$1,250$1,250$500$3,000$250
American Express® Green Card$1,250$1,250$500$3,000$250
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express$1,250$1,250$500$3,000$250

Terms apply.

Naturally, the higher-end cards offer more protection — but even the more basic cards have decent coverage. Note that the maximum payout per covered person for lost luggage is $3,000 on all of these cards.

AmEx also offers limited reimbursement for high-end items (varies by card), which include:

  • Jewelry.
  • Sports equipment.
  • Photography or electronic equipment.
  • Computers and audiovisual equipment.
  • Wearable technology.
  • Furs (including items made mostly of fur and those trimmed/lined with fur).
  • Items made fully or partially of gold, silver or platinum.

Terms apply.

Note that for all submitted claims, the amounts cannot exceed the value of the items lost. Again, available benefits can differ by state, so we advise that you review the policy for your specific card.

Claims must be filed within 30 days of your baggage loss. To file a claim, call 800-645-9700 from the U.S. or collect to 303-273-6498 if overseas. You can also file a claim online.

» Learn more: Compare travel insurance options: airline or credit card?

Premium Global Assist Hotline

Available to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, this benefit helps with events like replacing a lost passport, missing luggage assistance, emergency legal and medical referrals and in some instances emergency medical transportation assistance. Terms apply.

The service can also help you figure out important travel-related details like customs information, currency information, travel warnings, tourist office locations, foreign exchange rates, vaccine recommendations for the country you’re visiting, passport/visa requirements and weather forecasts.

The hotline isn’t so much a concierge as a service that provides logistical assistance, which can include the following:

General travel advice

  • Emergency translation if you need an interpreter to help with legal or medical documents (cost not covered).
  • Lost item search if your belongings are lost while traveling.
  • Missing luggage assistance if an airline loses your luggage. The hotline will contact your airline daily basis on your behalf to help locate your bags.
  • Passport/credit card assistance if you credit card or passport is lost or stolen. Premium Global Assist will locate the closest embassy to help you replace your passport and assist with canceling your cards.
  • Urgent message relay if you need to contact a family member and/or friend in the event of an emergency.

Medical assistance

  • Emergency medical transportation assistance if the cardmember or another covered family member traveling on the same itinerary gets sick or injured and needs medical treatment. You must call Premium Global Assist so the medical department can evaluate the need for transportation and coordinate it. If medical evacuation is necessary, the hotline will provide it free of charge. This benefit is not applicable for pre-existing conditions and only valid for the first 90 days of a trip. Note that reimbursement will not be provided for any medical transport that is not arranged or authorized by the Premium Global Assist Hotline Program.
  • Physician/dental referral if you need a doctor or dentist (cardmember is responsible for costs).
  • Repatriation of remains in the event of death. Premium Global Assist can help facilitate transportation of the remains back home, and in some instances the cost of the coffin may be covered.

» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance

Financial assistance

  • ATM referrals if you need a local ATM that accepts AmEx.
  • Emergency wire service to get help obtaining cash through Western Union or MoneyGram, which will be charged to your AmEx credit card (fees will be reimbursed).
  • Emergency hotel check in/out if your card has been lost or stolen.

Legal assistance

  • Bail bond assistance if you need access to a bail bond agency that accepts AmEx (cardmember is responsible for paying bail bond fees).
  • Embassy and consulate referral if you need help finding or accessing local embassies.
  • English-speaking lawyer referral if you’re traveling and need a list of available attorneys (cardmember responsible for any legal fees).

To use this benefit, call the Premium Global Assist Hotline (toll free) at 1-800-345-AMEX (2639). You can also call collect at 715-343-7979.

Global Assist Hotline

The main difference between the Global Assist Hotline and the Premium Global Assist Hotline is that some services are fully covered by Premium Global Assist (medical transportation, etc.), but these costs are not covered in the more basic version.

The Global Assist Hotline is available to holders of the American Express® Gold Card, American Express® Business Gold Card, American Express® Green Card and Business Green Rewards Card from American Express. Terms apply.

Although it is a more basic version of Premium Global Assist, the Global Assist Hotline offers similar travel advice including lost passport replacement help, translation services, missing luggage help and emergency legal/medical referrals. Guidance on embassies, vaccines, travel warnings, foreign exchange rates and cultural advice can also be provided.

You can call the Global Assist Hotline toll free at 800-333-AMEX (2639), or collect at 715-343-7977.

» Learn more: Travel fail? Your credit card could bail you out

New benefit additions

These two new benefits will become active on Jan. 1, 2020. Unforeseen travel delays and cancellations are extremely frustrating, so it’s nice to see AmEx including these benefits on its credit cards.

Trip delay insurance

Trip delay insurance is valid on round trip-flights booked with your AmEx using cash or American Express Membership Reward Points, as long as the trip is less than a year long. Reimbursable delays include those that are caused by weather, terrorist actions, carrier equipment failure or lost/stolen passports or travel documents.

AmEx will reimburse if you trip is delayed by a certain number of hours, depending on which card you hold. Up to two reimbursements per year are allowed per card. Terms apply.

CardTrip delayReimbursement amount
The Platinum Card® from American Express6 hours$500
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express6 hours$500
American Express® Gold Card12 hours$300
American Express® Business Gold Card12 hours$300
American Express® Green Card12 hours$300
Business Green Rewards Card from American ExpressN/AN/A

As expected, the Platinum cards offer a higher reimbursement for shorter delays.

» Learn more: Does trip insurance cover award flights?

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Available on The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, this benefit will reimburse non-refundable round-trip tickets booked with your AmEx card using cash or Membership Reward Points. Terms apply.

Valid reasons include:

  • Accidental injuries.
  • Illness (must have proof from doctor).
  • Inclement weather.
  • Change in military orders.
  • Terrorist acts.
  • Non-postponable jury duty or subpoena by a court.
  • An event occurring that makes the traveler’s home uninhabitable.
  • Quarantine imposed by a doctor for medical reasons.

There are many instances that are specifically called out as not covered (including trip interruption/cancellation due to pre-existing conditions, war, self-harm and fraud), so we recommend checking the terms of your coverage carefully when this benefit is added in January.

The maximum reimbursed amount for this benefit is $10,000 per covered trip and $20,000 per year. Coverage is secondary and applies after your primary policy offers reimbursement. Claims must be filed within 60 days.

NerdWallet Guide to COVID-19

Get answers to questions about travel plans, financial impacts — and maintaining your peace of mind.

Benefits being removed

While travel accident insurance and roadside assistance will no longer be provided by AmEx starting Jan. 1, 2020, your benefits are active until then. Although it’s disappointing to see a credit card issuer taking benefits away, it really is up to each individual cardmember to determine how important they are. If you don’t own a car, for example, roadside assistance may be of little value to you. If this benefit is important to you, consider another travel card that offers it.

Premium roadside assistance

Available on The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, premium roadside assistance offers the following benefits up to four times annually:

  • Towing your car up to 10 miles.
  • Winching.
  • Jump-starting.
  • Changing a flat tire (if the cardmember has a spare).
  • Lockout assistance (if the key is inside the car).
  • Delivery of up to two gallons of fuel.

Terms apply.

The benefit is available in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, no matter how far you are from home — though it does not apply to rental cars. You must arrange services through AmEx’s roadside assistance program to be eligible for coverage.

Roadside assistance hotline

Available on the Gold and Green cards, this more basic version of roadside assistance coverage provides essentially the same support as the premium coverage, but nothing is reimbursed. The cardmember is responsible for all costs (this is basically a dispatch service). Terms apply.

» Learn more: Credit card perks to pack for your next road trip

Travel accident insurance

Travel accident insurance provides coverage for serious medical accidents (or death) that occur during travel. While we hope no one ever has to rely on this type of coverage, AmEx defines “covered persons” as cardmembers, additional cardmembers and their spouses or domestic partners, as well as dependent children under 23 years of age. All covered persons must be residents of the U.S., Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To be covered, the entire trip must have been charged to your AmEx card. Each covered person will receive a maximum benefit of the following amounts based on the card held:

CardTravel accident insurance
The Platinum Card® from American Express$500,000
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express$500,000
American Express® Gold Card$250,000
American Express® Business Gold Card$100,000
American Express® Green Card$100,000
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express$100,000

Terms apply.

Events are covered at the following percentages:

If the cardmember is eligible for coverage under any other policies provided by AmEx that offer death or dismemberment coverage, the maximum amount payable will be $3,500,000. No coverage is provided for suicide, commuting, accidents during war, sickness, stroke or heart attack. The fine print of the policy may differ from state to state, and can be reviewed on AmEx’s site.

Claims must be filed within 30 days of the loss by calling 800-437-9209 from the U.S., or collect from abroad at 303-273-6498.

The bottom line

AmEx offers a wide array of travel insurance benefits, especially on its premium cards. Knowing what benefits are available to you is important in the event of unforeseen circumstances. It makes sense to familiarize yourself with these policies just in case something goes wrong.

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 2020, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
4 best credit cards for travel insurance benefits
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

About the author