Home » Travel » Travel Insurance » How does credit card travel insurance work and is it enough?

How does credit card travel insurance work and is it enough?

Flights and hotels are booked, exciting activities are planned, and you’re starting to pack for your upcoming holiday. Have you thought about your travel insurance coverage? Select credit cards include travel insurance, so you may assume that you’re protected by emergency health and cancellation insurance, but are you really, and is it enough?   

What costs are eligible, and how does it work? Pre-existing conditions: are they covered? These are questions you should be asking. Travel insurance through a credit card is rarely as comprehensive as proper travel insurance, so you’ll want to check the details before your next trip. Let’s compare typical credit card coverage to CAA Travel Insurance.   

How does credit card travel insurance work?

Credit cards that include travel insurance may provide coverage such as emergency medical care, trip cancellation or interruption, accidents, and lost baggage. It’s important to note that many of them only offer some of these protections as an option. But you might need to pay more to add them, or you’ll need to buy individual insurance.   

Usually, credit card insurance applies to claims only if you pay for your travel arrangements with the card. If you pay with debit, cash or a different credit card, you could be out of luck, so reading the fine print is essential. CAA Travel Insurance, however, covers expenses paid by any method, provided you have receipts or other appropriate documentation.   

couple watching photos from travel on digital camera during vacation after retirement
triloks | iStock

Is credit card medical insurance enough?

Medical coverage is often considered essential travel insurance, but it has many different aspects that your credit card may not include. For example, medical treatments, transportation, emergency evacuation, medical supplies, and medication are usually treated as distinct categories, requiring unique coverage.   

If your credit card offers medical coverage, odds are it’s only for medical treatment – you could still end up stuck with an ambulance bill, an emergency helicopter bill, or worse. It’s important to know that you’re covered for all potential medical costs, especially if you plan to enjoy athletic adventures during your getaway, like hiking, canoeing, or playing sports.   

Not all travel coverage is created equal. Many credit cards offer a basic travel insurance package, just enough to cover the most probable accidents. CAA travel insurance packages cover more situations and offer customizability, so you can get as much protection as you need.  

There are also pre-existing medical conditions to be mindful of. If you see a doctor right before you leave for your holiday, have been diagnosed with an illness or are currently undergoing treatment, any medical emergency while travelling that is related to this condition is likely not covered. It is vital to contact your insurer before to ensure you’re eligible for emergency coverage and what may be excluded.  

Mature couple hike above lake Lugano in the morning

What, who and how much is insured by my credit card?

Every credit card is different. Before you choose a card because it comes with travel insurance, you should confirm what coverages your card features and what is excluded. Damages, emergency assistance, and lost or stolen items are sometimes covered by cards with insurance. However, the amounts and eligibility are usually less than those of proper travel insurance.   

If it does include the benefits you need, who does the card cover? Some travel insurance policies cover the cardholder, their spouse and children, while others cover only the cardholder. The ages of the people insured can also be a factor; emergency medical care coverage may be limited for older travellers.  

Trip cancellation and interruption coverage is another benefit to consider – if you must cancel a trip or cut it short, you’ll be reimbursed for expenses incurred. However, some cards’ coverage will not consider all types of travel costs as eligible and won’t consider all reasons for cancelling as eligible. While a delayed flight may be a claimable expense, a missed flight may not be, and a natural disaster almost certainly won’t be. CAA travel insurance coverage packages would cover all of these.  

Also, credit cards with travel insurance often limit coverage amounts—for example, a maximum of $2,000 for trip cancellation. Unfortunately, if your trip costs you more than that and you need to cancel, you won’t be refunded the difference.  

What else should I know about travel insurance through my credit card?

Before leaving, check whether your credit card travel insurance reimburses 100% of the claimed amounts or if a deductible fee applies.   

The insurance policy may contain a restriction on the length of the trip. The maximum trip length can also vary depending on the cardholder’s age. For example, several credit card companies reduce coverage to 15 days for travellers aged 65 or older. When your trip is longer than your insurance coverage, you can buy top-up insurance through CAA to protect you for the remainder of your stay. There are some risks, however, so you’ll want to be clear about your plan details.   

Ensure you're fully covered before your vacation

CAA Travel Insurance offers comprehensive coverage beyond benefits offered through other group plans or credit cards. We help you get precisely the coverage you need, plus CAA Members save up to 20%¹ on their policy. It’s now easier than ever to get travel insurance online. You can receive a quote in just a few simple steps that’s good for 30 days.   

CAA Travel Insurance, an Orion Travel Insurance product, is underwritten by Echelon Insurance. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire is required if you are 60 years of age and older. Quotes are valid for 30 days. 

  1. Applies to CAA Members in good standing (CAA Membership dues paid in full by Membership expiry date). Up to twenty percent (20%) savings applies to the total premium excluding applicable taxes. Minimum premium applies. Subject to change without notice. Excludes Visitors to Canada Insurance. CAA Everyday, Classic®, and Plus® Members save 10%. CAA Premier® Members save 20% at CAA Stores or by calling 1-800-267-8713. CAA Premier Members save 10% and earn 10% in CAA Dollars® when booking online. 

®CAA trademarks are owned by, and use is authorized by, the Canadian Automobile Association. 

Share on:
Scroll to Top