Ask LH: Can I Score Free Travel Insurance Using My Credit Card?

Ask LH: Can I Score Free Travel Insurance Using My Credit Card?

Hey Lifehacker, Myself and some friends are going to Japan over the new year period, and I’m wondering about travel insurance. I remember hearing some credit cards offer free travel insurance if you book using them. Any suggestions and is that worth doing? Thanks, Japanese Gadget Freak

Dear JGF,

There are plenty of cards that offer this option, and it can be a useful one to use; after all, the chances are you’ll be using a credit card to pay for the booking anyway, so you may as well score some extra benefits from it. Our friends over at Finder have a useful guide to some of the available options.

That said, it’s important to check the specific details of the policy. For instance, if you book all the tickets on a single card, it’s possible only the cardholder will actually see cover. Also make sure that the policy covers all the elements that matter to you. Does it include medical cover, lost luggage, and trip cancellation? The first is essential; you may not be as worried about the other elements, but if you are and they’re not included, paying for your own insurance may make more sense.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Medical cover is essential, unless you have the means to be able to pay for any problems. I know someone that never gets travel insurance (they go overseas at least 6-7 times a year), as he doesn’t think it’s worth it. But he does have the means to pay if anything goes wrong.

    • I think im the opposite. I think travel insurance is a must….put the money aside, they have the contacts and relationships with the right companies to make sure you get out of any medical situation. Your essentially asking them to manage that for you. Yes…you could contact those companies yourself, but depending on your situation, you might not have the capacity to do so.

      Whereas health insurance in australia is massive rort….with the right planning, you can save yourself plenty of money and not need the cover or just have the most base level hospital cover.

      • It depends on where you are going. In between the UK, NZ and AUS all emergency (hospital) medical treatment is free due to reciprocal health care agreements. Australians also get a few more such as sweden and the netherlands.
        Therefore travel insurance to those countries is only useful for the luggage protection and so on.

        • I’d be pretty careful relying on reciprocal agreements – if you need to be medivaced back to Aus from somewhere, you could be looking at a $200,000 bill! I went skiing in Europe last year with a British friend, who didn’t have insurance as he thought he was covered. When he broke his back (ouch) he didn’t have to pay the hospital bill, but it did cost him I think 10,000 euros just for an hour’s flight from Lyon back to London. Doesn’t bear thinking about getting back to Aus…

          • I see what you mean, and people in aussie (except queensland) have to pay ambulance and so on. Though at the time I figured I would be fine, if hospital and ambulances are free. I doubt they would ever need to fly me around anywhere. But I have medicare and health insurance now anyway, so I have a whole heap of free(ish) medical options open to me.

  • You need to make sure you look through everything offered in the travel insurance. My Amex comes with the insurance, but I am not happy with the level of coverage so will be purchasing separate insurance for my next trip

  • I found Comm Bank Gold Credit card to be very useful on these matters. The yearly fees is about $150 . You get travel insurance from “Zurich” for all the international travel if you buy the tickets using the credit card.
    I recently broke my specs on a trip to china and was able to claim it. The claim process was hassle free. I would defiantly recommend.

    If you want more coverage you should go for the Comm Bank Platinum credit card. Please be ware of the things that the companies do not cover.

    • We would never advise people to actually pay an annual fee for card with travel insurance.

      That insurance often has significant limitations and exclusions and is 100% useless if you plan on doing anything other than walking around or sitting in a car/tour bus and seeing the sites.

      Anything outside these activities will be considered “adventure sport” by most of the insurance companies and they will refuse your claim if something happens.

      Therefore, it might be worthwhile paying for your own insurance.

      Saying that, if you can get a credit card that offers international travel insurance and zero annual fee then it’s definitely worth getting and then deciding before each trip if you need to get (and pay for) an upgraded cover or just use the one that comes with your card.

      There are very little credit card products currently being offered in Australia that have international travel insurance and ZERO annual fee and our pick is the Zero Mastercard (Gold or Platinum) from Bankwest.

      • Just so everyone knows, “our” refers to his website, which promotes products with paid endorsements.

  • Not sure if you plan n doing any skiing/extreme sports while in Japan, but often credit card insurance policies wont cover those activities.

    While in Thailand on an elephant ride, my friend had his insurance policy in his back pocket freaking out that if something happened he wasn’t covered hahaha!

  • If you can afford to travel, you can afford Travel Insurance… it’s that simple. DO NOT be one of those people we see on the news begging for “consular assistance” and my taxpayer money when things go awry because you were too cheap or ignorant to purchase adequate travel insurance for your trip.

    Agree that the restrictions on “free” credit card insurance need much scrutiny before relying on those policies. Even though I’m eligible for that cover, I choose to purchase my own independent cover. For one thing, most CC policies require you to purchase all your travel using that credit card. That doesn’t always suit me.

  • I always purchase travel insurance and use to compare policis and save some cash. In addition to your activities on holiday, the other thing to be wary of with credit card insurance is cover for any pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Good Ask LH Topic! Definitely agree – if you’re booking anyway with a card (to earn points, etc) it’s ultra handy if the card has complimentary travel insurance as a feature. I find it handy because it’s something I no longer have to think about when making bookings. It’s important you check the PDS to make sure you meet the trip purchase requirements to ensure the insurance applies.

  • @sockparty, if you want to keep ‘trolling’ that’s ok mate but for everyone else, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear we are NOT accepting payments for so called ‘endorsing’ a product.
    Our aim is first and foremost to EMPOWER consumers through giving unbiased and honest information.
    If we mention a product or a service, it is almost always because we have PERSONALLY used it for ourselves and are therefore comfortable vouching for its reliability and value.

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