Free Credit Card Travel Insurance Comparison – Which Card Is Best For You?

travel insuranceWhile vacations are intended to be worry free, Murphy’s Law states that when something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Hence the popularity and need for travel insurance.

From flight delays, to lost baggage, cancelled trips, car rental dings and sickness abroad, we’ve all either experienced or heard of a travel horror story. Travel insurance is a must to protect ourselves from the potentially devastating effects of having to pay for accidents out of pocket.

What most Canadians don’t know is that they already have insurance protection for many of the most important travel insurance coverages. Many of the best credit cards now offer comprehensive travel insurance as a card benefit, including: travel medical, car rental, travel accident, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, lost baggage, and motel burglary amongst others.

Just how good are the coverages, and which Canadian credit cards offer the best travel insurance packages is something that will vary by each person’s needs.

Credit Card Travel Insurance Comparison

TD Aeroplan Infinite Scotia Amex Gold BMO World Elite MasterCard Desjardins Visa Odyssey Gold National Bank World Elite MasterCard American Express Gold Rewards CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite RBC Avion Visa Infinite
Travel Medical 21 Cons. Days
4 Days/65+
$1,000,000
25 Cons. Days
10 Days/65+
$1,000,000
21 Cons. Days
No Coverage 65+
$2,000,000
Up to 59 60 Cons. Days
50-64 31 Cons. Days
65-75 15 Cons. Days
$5,000,000
Up to 54 60 Cons. Days
55-64 31 Cons. Days
65-74 15 Cons. Days
$5,000,000
15 Cons. Days
No Coverage 65+
Unlimited
15 Cons. Days
3 Days/65+
$5,000,000
15 Cons. Days
3 Days / 65+
Unlimited
Trip Cancellation $1,500 / person
$5,000 / group
$2,500 / person
$10,000 / group
$2,500 / person
$5,000 / group
 $2,500 / person $2,500 / person N/A $1,000 / person
$5,000 / group
$1,500 / person
$5,000 / group
Trip Interruption $5,000 / person
$25,000 / group
$2,500 / person
$10,000 / group
$2,000 / person  Unlimited $5,000 / person $1,500 / person
$6,000 / group
$2,000/ person $5,000 / person
$25,00 / group
Flight Delay $500 $500 $500  $500 $500 $500 $500 $500
Lost Luggage $1,000 / person
No group limit
$1,000 / person
$1,000 / group
$750 / person
$2,000 / group
$1,000/
person
No group limit
$1,000 / person
No group limit
$500 / person
$500 / group
$500 / person
No group limit
$500 / person
$2,500 / group
Car Rental CDW, theft CDW, theft CDW, theft, ADD, Personal  effects  CDW, theft CDW, theft, Personal effects CDW, theft CDW, theft CDW, theft
Hotel/Motel Burglary N/A Yes N/A  N/A N/A Yes N/A Yes
Travel Accident $500,000 $500,000 $500,000  $1,000,000 N/A $500,000 $500,000 $500,000
Annual Fee
Sign-up Bonus
1st Yr Free. $120 after
25,000 Miles
$99
20,000 Points
$150
30,000 Points
 $110
0 Points
$150
0 Points
$0 1st Yr. $150 after
25,000 Points
$120
15,000 Points
$120
15,000 Points
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When selecting which credit card is right for you, you’ll want to evaluate the earning potential of each card, the point redemption options and structure, the annual fee, and obviously the insurance coverages. Travel insurance needs will vary by person, stage of life and travel type. But here are a few suggestions we have:

1. Always carry travel insurance when going out of province or country. Your provincial health-care plan does not cover all of the costs you can incur in a U.S. hospital. Typically you will only be covered for the equivalent cost of care in a Canadian hospital, which is far less.

2. Check for eligibility, limitations and exclusions.  People 55+, adventure travelers, motorcyclists, pregnant women should read the fine print of each insurance certificate.

3. If you have any health related issues prior to your trip they can impact availability of your protection.  Check your insurance certificate.

4. You have no medical secrets. When making a claim, your insurer will comb through your medical records to assess pre-existing conditions, what you’ve been treated for, when and what medications you’re on.

5. Rental car insurance on credit cards will only cover collision damages. You will need your own third party liability coverage (covers you if you hurt someone else).

6. Most credit card insurances (except for travel medical) only apply if you pay for the covered service with your credit card.. For example, you have to pay for your airline ticket with your credit card to be covered by its trip cancellation insurance.

Some credit cards offer phenomenal travel insurance coverages that will give you all you need. Others will get you halfway there, and you can top-up any holes with your insurance broker. When in doubt, review your insurance certificates and call the credit card company and/or its partnering insurance company. Either way, if you travel alone or with family, check to see what your credit card already covers you for, so you don’t pay twice.

10 comments

  1. When you updated this article, why did you not include the card you described elsewhere as the best card for insurance: the Desjardin Odyssey?

  2. Great comparison. Would be great if you could do a deeper dive how medical insurance offerings vary. i.e., what sorts of pre-approvals are required for coverage once an emergency situation occurs, how are reimbursements made…are receipts required or can the foreign entity bill the credit card company directly for reimbursement, how difficult is it to get reimbursed from the card company as well and are some more unreasonable to deal with than others. Always good to know what sorts of ‘gotchas’ might exist ahead of time. Realize some of these questions are more of the qualitative nature but it would be useful to leverage the wealth of experience that must exist, both good and bad.

    One offering you haven’t listed here that my card, the Visa Desjardins Travel Gold has is Emergency Travel Assistance. This is tied in with with medical emergency situations but covers a broad range of services beyond that including assistance with stolen documents and identification, cash advances as well as the aforementioned medical assistance.

    Also, now that I’m retired and my wife and I have a much reduced income relative to when we were working, I’m wondering if the card companies base their approvals on net assets, which in our case is reasonable, or is annual income the only factor that matters. It would be good to know that if we found a card that better suited our needs that our modest income wouldn’t be an impediment, or are we now ‘stuck’ with the card we now have because we wouldn’t qualify for any of the others, simply because they look at income only.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Greg,

      That’s a big project! Unfortunately we don’t have the data to qualitatively judge and compare travel medical offerings fairly i.e. understanding claims turndown ratios, amount funded versus claimed etc… Agree on Desjardins, a great insurance offering, but their appetite for cardholders outside of Quebec is limited.

      The question of getting approved for a premium card based on assets is interesting. In the United States it’s done. The income requirements are actually set by MasterCard and Visa. In Canada, as far as we can tell after making a few calls, MasterCard and Visa only have minimum income requirements, there is no “and/or” asset threshold unfortunately. That said, income verification is kind of loosey goosey.

      GreedyRates Staff

      • Thanks for your response. I realize that what I was asking is a tall order but as a consumer one is really flying blind as there isn’t any comparison information out there. The implications of this is that one often doesn’t find out the shortcomings of these offerings until it is too late, potentially at great financial costs and personal anxiety.

        Re Desjardins, I live in BC and have obtained the card through Coast Capital Savings, a BC based financial institution that uses Desjardins Visa services. I’m not sure if smaller institutions in other provinces use them as well. If not, you are correct in that they are somewhat limited outside of Quebec. I would say that their offering compares very favourably to the ones you’ve listed in your article but your Quebec comment helps explain why I never see their offering in any review comparisons.

        You might also be interested that they also offer 1% cash back and this can be used to offset travel purchases. (They used to offer 2% on foreign currency transactions but regrettably, this was cancelled.) I realize your article focussed on Insurance only but it would be interesting to see what the other cards’ cash back offerings are as well.

        Thanks again

        • Hi Greg,

          With respect to the rewards value offered by the cards, most offer more than 1% in value. While none are cash back cards, they either offer points or miles that can be redeemed for travel. As such most listed above offer in general between 1.5% to 2% in cash value. In addition, many have very attractive sign-up bonus offers, which you should always strongly consider – unfortunately new customers get rewarded more than old customers with incentives – as is the case in most industries.

          Best,

          GreedyRates Staff

  3. Hi, thank you for this one-stop detailed table summary of premium credit card travel insurance packages and caveat footnotes. Would you be able to please point out where on the National Bank World Elite MasterCard certificate you find their 500,000 Travel Accident coverage?

  4. Good overview. But are secondary users covered too?

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