US-based travel insurance provider CSA Travel Protection has advised consumers that credit cards are not a good replacement for travel insurance. The company has debunked the common misconception that credit cards will cover travellers on a trip to the same extent as full insurance coverage, explaining that many credit cards that include some travel protection features often provide coverage for fewer events and tend to offer lower benefit limits than travel insurance.
“Most cards only offer trip cancellation/interruption benefits for travel arrangements purchased with the card,” said Bob Chambers, CSA’s vice-president of operations. “Many of them only offer travel assistance in the event of a medical emergency while travelling – they make it clear that the customer is responsible for any charges incurred.”
According to CSA Travel Protection, credit card coverage falls short in a few areas: robust trip cancellation coverage, medical and evacuation coverage, pre-existing medical conditions, card limits and covering other travellers. CSA explained that only around 15 per cent of credit cards offer travel cancellation insurance and most trip cancellation or interruption protection offered by credit cards is limited to a handful of reasons such as illness, injury or death.
The company also highlighted that credit cards often don’t have the same level of coverage as travel insurance for medical expenses or emergency medical transportation while traveling – which can be costly if travellers don't have the right coverage. When it comes to pre-existing medical conditions, CSA warned that travellers concerned about this kind of coverage shouldn’t count on their credit card. Additionally, the company pointed out that many cards cap their benefit limits, especially for trip cancellation coverage, and credit cards are likely to only cover the cardholder.
Travellers should consider these tips before purchasing travel insurance, said CSA, and if they have credit cards with travel insurance, contact their credit card provider to find out the exact terms and conditions: “It is likely that only purchases made with the credit card will be eligible for coverage. If travellers paid another way, cheque or cash for example, then they would probably not be covered by the credit card.”