Home Comparing Benefits Does My Elite Credit Card Provide Free Travel Accident Insurance?

Does My Elite Credit Card Provide Free Travel Accident Insurance?

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

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Before purchasing—or forgoing—travel accident insurance for your next trip, find out if it’s included with your premium credit card.
The value of your hand varies by credit card and its implicit travel accident insurance.
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Insurances are complicated, and travel insurance is no exception. Bundled under travel insurance are subinsurances such as emergency evacuation and transportation insurance (medevac insurance), trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and travel accident insurance, each of which is mutually exclusive and comes with its own terms and conditions.

While we’ve previously discussed medevac insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and trip delay insurance as they pertain to elite credit cards, now we begin to unravel the puzzle of travel accident insurance, as provided by current top credit cards.

All credit cards featured on Credit Card Pro provide implicit travel accident insurance when charging common carrier travel (airline, bus, cruise ship, train) to the card. In the most general sense, travel accident insurance compensates for loss of life, limb, sight, speech, and/or hearing due to an accident while traveling.

But with the cards’ different insurance underwriters comes fluctuating terms for length of coverage, the definition of an “accident,” whether mileage tickets are covered, coverage extension beyond the primary cardholder, the maximum coverage provided, and the (rather morbid) breakdown of payouts by body part.

This is a complicated subject, so we probed the fine print of various credit cards’ Guide to Benefits and called into the benefits centers to simplify the travel accident insurance provided by each core card featured on Credit Card Pro.

First, what is travel accident insurance?

Generally speaking, travel accident insurance compensates for loss of life, limb, sight, speech, and/or hearing due to an accident while traveling on a common carrier. A common carrier is typically a plane, train, ship, or bus that is publicly available and licensed to carry passengers. Hence, this insurance is also often referred to as common carrier insurance.

In layman’s terms, you or your estate can be compensated for certain bodily harm in the event of a tragedy such as a plane crash or sunken ship. The insurance is intended to provide you and your family with financial security.

For the American Express® Premiere Rewards Gold Card, Citi Prestige® Card, Luxury Cards (Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, Mastercard® Titanium Card™), The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, the travel accident insurance is the common carrier insurance.

However, the travel accident insurance under Chase Sapphire cards extends beyond the common carrier insurance. Chase Sapphire’s 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance covers losses for the full duration of a trip (not just the flight or common carrier trip). This special insurance is the subject of next week’s post.

What is considered a travel accident with common carrier insurance?

All credit cards featured on Credit Card Pro will cover an accident that results in loss of life, limb, or certain body functions while boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier.

Some extend this coverage to exposure to elements after a common carrier accident. Some also cover the accident or disappearance of a common carrier, which causes the covered traveler(s) to remain missing for one year, after which they’ll be assumed dead.

There are also variations with coverage leading up to and after the actual travel on a common carrier. Some cards provide coverage from the moment you leave your home en route to a common carrier; others don’t provide coverage until you’re on that aircraft, bus, train, or ship.

Note that there are many occurrences that never qualify as travel accidents and these are spelled out in the formal Guide to Benefits from each credit card provider. These include things like acts of war and suicides. In addition, pilots and crew are exempt from the credit cards’ implicit travel accident insurance.

Are all of my body parts and bodily functions worth the same under travel accident insurance?

In short, no. Each credit card company places a different valuation on loss of life, hands, feet, sight, speech, and/or hearing.

Some will compensate for the loss of both the thumb and the index finger of the same hand. But if you lose two fingers on different hands or your ring and pinky fingers, you won’t be compensated. Some even exclude the loss of speech or hearing from their policies.

What other differences should I look for when it comes to my elite credit card’s free travel accident insurance?

In addition to the aforementioned differences, the credit cards’ different insurance underwriters dictate variable terms on the inclusion or exclusion of mileage tickets, who exactly is covered by the policy beyond the cardholder, the maximum coverage provided, and the (rather morbid) breakdown of payouts by body part.

You also need to file a claim in a timely manner, and that time frame and necessary documentation also vary by credit card.

So what are the fundamentals of free travel accident insurance by credit card?

We’ve broken it down for you below.

American Express Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold Cards

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Amex or use membership rewards to book your trip, you are automatically covered for the card’s travel accident insurance.
What’s considered an accident: An accident that occurs when boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier; exposure to the elements after a common carrier accident; or the accident or disappearance of a common carrier, which causes the covered traveler(s) to remain missing for one year, after which they’ll be assumed deceased. Exclusions include transportation by taxis, car service, rental car, and rideshare services.
Coverage extension: The cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under 23 years of age.
Maximum coverage provided: Up to $500,000 for Platinum Card holders; up to $250,000 for Premier Rewards Gold Card holders.
Coverage by parts: $500,000 Platinum/$250,000 Gold for loss of: life; both hands; both feet; one hand and one foot; sight in both eyes; either hand or foot and sight in one eye;
$250,000 Platinum/$125,000 Gold for loss of: sight in one eye; one hand or one foot.

Chase Sapphire cards

When you charge the entirety or a portion of your common carrier fare to your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and/or use Ultimate Rewards points or reward points accumulated through Chase with associated frequent flier programs to book travel, you are automatically covered for travel accident insurance. This insurance includes common carrier insurance as well as Chase’s 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance, which combined cover losses for the full duration of a trip up to 30 days. The payout for the latter is different than the common carrier insurance and is discussed in next week’s post.
What’s considered an accident: An accident that occurs when boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier; exposure to the elements after a common carrier accident; or the accident or disappearance of a common carrier, which causes the covered traveler(s) to remain missing for one year, after which they’ll be assumed deceased. Exclusions include transportation by taxis, car service, rental car, and rideshare services, except when courtesy transportation is provided by the common carrier.
Coverage extension: Cardholder and immediate family members (including spouse, domestic partner, children, step-children, siblings, siblings-in-law, parents, parents-in-law; grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews). Pro Tip: Unlike all other credit cards, a Chase Sapphire cardholder can purchase travel for his or her immediate family member (as defined above) and does not need to be on the trip for the insurance to kick in.
Maximum coverage provided: Up to $1,000,000 for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders; up to $500,000 for Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders.
Coverage breakdown: $1,000,000 Reserve/ $500,000 Preferred for loss of: life; both hands; both feet; one hand and one foot; sight in both eyes; either hand or foot and sight in one eye; hearing in both ears and speech; speech and loss of one hand, foot, or sight.
$500,000 Reserve/$250,000 Preferred for loss of hearing in both ears; speech; sight in one eye; one hand or one foot.
$250,000 Reserve/ $125,000 Preferred for loss of thumb and index finger of the same hand.

Citi Prestige Card

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Citi Prestige Card or use ThankYou® Points to book travel, you are automatically covered by the card’s Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance.
What’s considered an accident: An accident that occurs when boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier; exposure to the elements after a common carrier accident; or the accident or disappearance of a common carrier, which causes the covered traveler(s) to remain missing for one year, after which they’ll be assumed deceased. Exclusions include transportation by taxis, car service, rental car, and rideshare services.
Coverage extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and dependents (children who can be claimed on federal tax return).
Maximum coverage provided: Up to $1,000,000.
Coverage by parts: $1,000,000 for loss of: life; both hands; both feet; one hand and one foot; sight in both eyes; either hand or foot and sight in one eye; hearing in both ears and speech.
$500,000 for loss of: hearing in both ears; speech; sight in one eye; one hand or one foot.
$250,000 for loss of thumb and index finger of the same hand.

Luxury Cards: Mastercard Black Card, Mastercard Gold Card, Mastercard Titanium Card

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Luxury Card, you are automatically covered by Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance.
What’s considered an accident: An accident that occurs when boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier. Ground transportation to and from the common carrier is included. (Read: Coverage begins when you leave your home or hotel.)
Coverage extension: Cardholder, spouse or domestic partner, and unmarried dependent children.
Maximum coverage provided: Up to $250,000.
Coverage breakdown: $250,000 for loss of: life; both hands; both feet; one hand and one foot; sight in both eyes; either hand or foot and sight in one eye; hearing in both ears and speech.
$125,000 for loss of: hearing in both ears; speech; sight in one eye; one hand or one foot.
$62,500 for loss of thumb and index finger of the same hand.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your U.S. Bank card, you are automatically covered by travel accident insurance.
What’s considered an accident: An accident that occurs when boarding, exiting, or riding as a passenger on a common carrier; or the accident or disappearance of a common carrier, which causes the covered traveler(s) to remain missing for one year, after which they’ll be assumed deceased. Ground transportation to and from the common carrier is included. (Read: Coverage begins when you leave your home or hotel.)
Coverage extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse, and unmarried dependent children under the age of 19 (or 25 if full-time student). Dependent children are entitled to only 50% of the benefit payout.
Maximum coverage provided: Up to $500,000.
Coverage breakdown: $500,000 for loss of: life; both hands; both feet; one hand and one foot; sight in both eyes; either hand or foot and sight in one eye; hearing in both ears and speech.
$250,000 for loss of hearing in both ears; speech; sight in one eye; one hand or one foot.
$125,000 for loss of thumb and index finger of the same hand.

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Previous articleAirport Lounge Update for Elite Credit Card Holders: March 2018
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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.