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International business Travel Accident

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Visa travel accident insurance

Q: I have come across quite a few American Express, Citibank, Capital One, and Chase credit cards with travel insurance included for accidents. Is it any good? Who offers the best coverage?

A: Is it any good? Well, that depends what you are expecting from it. Coverage varies by card and issuer, but usually it works like this:

  • The coverage is automatically provided at no additional cost on eligible travel purchases which were paid for in full using the credit card.
  • The benefit covers accidental loss of life and sometimes, dismemberment (that’s a nicer sounding word for when your limbs or eyes are lost). Usually the loss of life = full benefit value. If dismemberment or other disabilities are covered, then the payout might only be a fraction of the full benefit amount.
  • This is NEVER a blank benefit that covers all forms of travel. As you can imagine, there are plenty of rules and restrictions. Typically, coverage only applies while traveling as a ticketed passenger via “Common Carrier.” If you’re not familiar with that term, here is the definition according to A.M. Best, a leading insurance-rating and information agency:

“A business or agency that is available to the public for transportation of persons, goods or messages. Common carriers include trucking companies, bus lines and airlines.”

With some credit cards, coverage might extend while traveling to and from the terminal where your trip originates, if getting there is also done via Common Carrier (for example, you might be covered while riding on a bus to get to the airport).

In addition to the card issuers you mentioned, some Discover, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank cards also offer some level of coverage. In fact, most Visa Signature and World MasterCard tier cards issued in the United States offers at least some degree of protection:

MasterCard World

With Visa, the travel insurance coverage is usually (but not always) the same on all Signature cards. However when it comes to the MasterCard travel insurance for their “World” tier of cards, coverage can vary greatly depending on the issuing bank. The MasterCard website explains it as:

“Covers you and your family against Accidental Death or Dismemberment if you purchase common carrier travel tickets with your eligible MasterCard card.”

And to give you an idea of how much coverage can vary between this tier of MasterCards…

  • The Capital One travel insurance policy reportedly is never higher than $200, 000 according to this PDF document for their World MasterCards (and their Platinum MC’s have an even lower maximum of $100, 000).
  • The benefits guide from August 2011 for my Citi ThankYou Premier credit card (a World MC) stated my travel accident coverage was up to 0, 000.
  • When I looked at the AAdvantage World MasterCards which are also from Citibank, some had the cap set higher at 0, 000.
  • Then there is at least one World M.C. from USAA which offered $1, 000, 000 in underwriting for travel accidents.
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