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Published February 27, 2024
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Will Credit Card Travel Insurance Cover You on Your Next Trip?

While credit card travel insurance is sometimes free and automatic for cardholders, there are important coverage limits and caveats to understand.

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Credit card insurance in Canada is a beautiful thing, when it works. But with lots of restrictions and conditions, it’s important to know exactly what is covered before you fully rely on it for your next adventure.

How credit card travel insurance works 

As a perk of credit card ownership, some cards include automatic travel insurance. Here are some types of coverage your card might offer:

  • Travel medical: For unexpected medical emergencies while traveling
  • Trip cancellation or trip interruption: For costs incurred if you’re forced to cancel or cut short a trip for eligible reasons
  • Hotel/motel burglary: For the replacement costs of items that are stolen from your room.

» MORE: Types of credit card travel insurance to know

Conditions and limitations: How to know if you’re covered

Credit card travel insurance is free with certain credit cards, making it hard to argue the price. However it tends to come with a lot of restrictions and caveats. 

Maximum coverage amounts

Some card policies have limits on what they’ll pay out, which may make them insufficient as your only form of coverage.

For example, one card’s maximum coverage amount of $10,000 for travel medical insurance is paltry when other card policies have maximums in the millions. With the wrong illness or injury in the wrong country, $10,000 won’t get you far. 

A maximum of $500 for hotel/motel burglary or baggage loss insurance won’t fully reimburse you for a smartphone or laptop, and many of us carry both, in addition to other expensive items. 

And some credit card rental insurance policies will cap the total reimbursable value of a car, which might not be sufficient for higher-end vehicles. 

Length of trip

The number of days covered per trip is limited. For longer trips you may want a separate travel insurance policy. 

Who is covered

Sometimes only the primary cardholder is covered by the insurance. In other cases it applies to family members or friends on the same trip. 

Age of insured person

Both the length of trip and maximum coverage amounts can drop significantly (if not entirely) if the insured person is over the age of 65. 

Payment criteria

Some credit card travel insurance requires you to pay for the expense (in part or in full) with the card to receive coverage. Other cards provide coverage automatically simply by owning the card. It also depends on the type of insurance; while travel medical coverage might be automatic, trip cancellation usually requires you to make the purchase with that card. 

Secondary auto coverage

Many credit card policies will only act as a secondary payor, requiring you to file a claim first with your home auto insurance company. If you make a claim, this could mean a rate hike for your regular auto insurance when it renews.

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Tips for making a credit card travel insurance claim

Take time to read over your card’s travel insurance claims process in advance, when you’re at home and calm. Knowing what you need to do in the event of a claim will help you later, during an inevitably stressful time. 

Be prompt (and know your policy number)

In some cases, you need to file paperwork within a certain number of days, or the claim can be denied. And for travel medical insurance, you need to call the insurance company as soon as possible – preferably before you seek medical attention. 

Thus, you’ll need your insurance policy number and contact information on you at all times. Write it down on a slip of paper and keep it in your wallet (in case your phone is lost or damaged in an accident). 

Know what you packed

For lost baggage and burglary claims, you may need to prove what items you owned and how much they cost, for which you’ll need original receipts and/or photos of you using those items. Receipts are also required for trip cancellation, flight delay, and other forms of insurance involving reimbursement.  

Be persistent

Scrutinize offered reimbursements and advocate for your rights. It’s not uncommon to have to appeal insurance claims or correct mistakes made by the adjustor. The only way to do this is to keep copies of everything and take meticulous notes through the claims process, and be prepared to escalate the matter if the insurance company doesn’t initially accept or reimburse your entire claim.

Nerdy tip

If the reason you can’t catch your connecting flight home is because the airline unexpectedly shut down — it happens! — contact the airline directly to figure out the best course of action before filing a claim with your credit card issuer.


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