Home Comparing Benefits Does My Premium Credit Card Offer Free Medevac Insurance?

Does My Premium Credit Card Offer Free Medevac Insurance?

Before purchasing—or forgoing—medevac insurance for your next big trip, find out if it’s included with your premium credit card.

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Does My Premium Credit Card Offer Free Medevac Insurance
Does My Premium Credit Card Offer Free Medevac Insurance
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It’s no fun thinking about the possibility of serious illness or injury while traveling, but being safe is always better than being sorry. If an emergency happens, medical evacuation to the nearest adequate hospital can cost in excess of $100,000, especially when air ambulances are required and/or when traveling in countries or regions where good hospitals are scarce.

Emergency evacuation and transportation insurance or medevac insurance typically covers the transportation expenses, medical services, and medical supplies incurred while getting a sick or injured traveler to the nearest, properly equipped hospital. This applies even when that hospital is in a different nearby country (e.g., evacuating from the Bahamas to the United States or Madagascar to South Africa). Once at the hospital, your personal medical insurance takes over, but the medevac benefits may resurface if requiring special transportation back home or to a hospital near your home.

Emergency evacuation and transportation insurance shouldn’t be confused with other insurances like travel accident insurance (compensation for loss of limb or life while traveling) or trip cancellation and interruption insurance (compensation for a trip ended due to a number of circumstances including hijacking, inclement weather, etc). Medevac is often the backbone of independent travel insurance policies and typically the insurance required by tour outfitters, especially when traveling abroad on group trips and for travelers above a certain age.

Since premium cards provide so many implicit insurances these days, we decided to delve into which cards do and don’t include medevac when purchasing travel on the card. It turns out there are two cards with great coverage and a whole lot of misinformation on the Web about coverage as it pertains to The Platinum Card® from American Express. Here’s what you need to know.

There’s a lot of misinformation on the Web regarding The Platinum Card® from American Express

Blog posts on our other favorite points and credit card websites tout the emergency evacuation insurance provided by The Platinum Card by American Express as best in class. There’s even a great article from The Points Guy dated May 2017 singing the praises of The Platinum Card’s ultra-generous “no cap coverage” from emergency evacuation and transportation while traveling (basically, top-of-the-line medevac insurance) and dozens of older posts in the respected blogosphere reporting that this insurance is a benefit to all cardholders even when they did not purchase the specific trip on their Platinum Card from American Express.

Unfortunately, none of this is true—The Platinum Card from American Express does NOT come with any form of emergency evacuation and transportation insurance. It seems that at some point the card did offer this benefit, but this time is no longer. We have since checked with three Platinum Card representatives to verify that medevac is NOT a benefit. (Side note: This discussion came about when I recently took my 70-year-old father on a hiking trip to Peru, and my mother insisted on buying us medevac insurance despite me being a Platinum cardholder. Thankfully, she forced me to do my due diligence on this and research the ever-changing world of premium benefits to find out the information above.)

In addition, the Platinum’s Premium Global Assist® (PGA) administrator who used to handle such benefits is also no longer. Instead, cardmembers have access to the Premium Global Assist Hotline, which will coordinate medical evacuation at your expense.
Bottom line: We suggest purchasing independent medevac insurance policies if charging travel to The Platinum Card from American Express.

Some premium cards have never provided medevac insurance and have never claimed to

Emergency evacuation and transportation insurance is not—and never has been—a benefit of travel purchased on the following credit cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred®, The Gold Card from American Express, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, and Mastercard® Titanium Card™.
Bottom line: We suggest purchasing independent medevac insurance policies if charging travel to these credit cards.

The Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® do provide implicit emergency evacuation and transportation insurance

When you charge your trip to the Citi Prestige Card (or use ThankYou® Points to book travel) and when you charge the entirety or a portion of your trip to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you are automatically covered under the cards’ respective medevac insurance policies and up to $100,000 in evacuation costs per traveler. We break down the fine print below.

Cit Prestige® Card 
What’s Covered: Transportation, medical services, and medical supplies necessary for an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital where the covered traveler can receive proper treatment. In addition, transportation to the covered traveler’s home, or to an appropriate hospital near his or her home, is covered if further treatment is needed after having treatment at a local hospital. Transportation may be by land, water, or air and may include air ambulances and land ambulances.
Coverage Period: From trip departure date through trip completion. The duration of the trip cannot exceed 60 days, and it must be in excess of 75 miles from place of residence.
Coverage Provided: $100,000 per traveler limit on the cost of transportation.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and financial dependents (as defined by tax returns) traveling on cardholder’s trip.
Details: The evacuation must be pre-authorized by a benefit administrator in consultation with a doctor who certifies that a covered traveler’s illness or injury is severe enough to require an emergency medical evacuation. To reach an administrator, you must call 1-866-506-5222 in the United States, or call collect 1-312-356-7830 internationally.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
What’s Covered: Transportation, medical services, and medical supplies necessary for an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital where the covered traveler can receive proper treatment. In addition, transportation to the covered traveler’s home, or to an appropriate hospital near his or her home, is covered if further treatment is needed after having treatment at a local hospital. Transportation may be by land, water, or air and may include air ambulances and land ambulances.
Coverage Period: From trip departure date through trip completion. The duration of the trip cannot be less than five days or exceed 60 days, and it must be in excess of 100 miles from place of residence.
Coverage Provided: $100,000 per traveler limit on the cost of transportation (beyond expenses not paid or payable by your private medical insurance).
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse, and financial dependents (as defined by tax returns) traveling on cardholder’s trip.
Details: The evacuation must be pre-authorized by a benefit administrator in consultation with a doctor who certifies that a covered traveler’s illness or injury is severe enough to require an emergency medical evacuation. To reach an administrator, call 1-888-675-1461 in the United States or call collect 1-804-281-5772 internationally. Note that, according to the fine print, this policy does not apply in countries “which may be determined by the U.S. Government from time to time to be unsafe for travel.” This list currently includes: Afghanistan, Burma, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Kampuchea, Laos, Lebanon, Nicaragua, North Korea, Yemen, and Vietnam, and is subject to change.
Bottom line: There’s no need to purchase independent medevac insurance policies if charging travel to your Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards.

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers the same policy as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® but with one-tenth the benefit

When you charge the entirety or a portion of your trip to the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card, you are automatically covered under the card’s medevac insurance policy, but only up to $10,000 in evacuation costs per traveler. The fine print for this card reads verbatim to the Chase Sapphire Reserve policy above, with the exception of coverage at one-tenth the amount ($10,000) and a different phone number for the administrator: Call 1-800-508-1276 in the United States or call collect 1-804-673-6498 internationally.
Bottom line: We suggest purchasing independent medevac insurance policies if charging travel to your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card.

 

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.