Is Credit Card Travel Insurance Enough?

Last Updated on

travel insurance

We’ve all been there: a single click away from booking those hard-earned airline tickets for a little well-deserved R and R, and there it is: the travel insurance option. It can be hard to know which way to go. Do you shell out the extra cash or fly by the seat of your pants? To figure out this complicated issue, we went to the experts—a panel of Canadian travel bloggers. Read on to discover what these seasoned travellers know about travel insurance and whether you should buy it for your vacation.

The Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards in Canada

Credit CardBest For More Info
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* CardFlight delay/cancellation coverageLearn more
Scotiabank Gold American Express® CardTrip cancellation/interruption insuranceLearn more
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Frequent flyersLearn more
BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*Emergency medical insuranceLearn More

Types of Travel Insurance and Exemptions

I know, I know—I can see your eyes glossing over. The minutiae of travel insurance may well be one of the factors that prevent folks from buying it!

The good news is that unless you’ve got something really outlandish planned, there are just a few main types to consider: trip cancellation/interruption, baggage loss/theft, and emergency medical travel insurance.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption

In making a coverage decision, a simple review of your circumstances and your trip can do a lot of the heavy lifting. Is the cost of your travel substantial? For instance, if you’ve saved for months or years to buy expensive flights, you might want to consider insuring against trip cancellation. If you booked on points or they were otherwise a low investment you can consider going without. Always check the fine print, though, if you’re leaning towards springing for coverage. Some policies won’t reimburse you for cancelling a trip, except in extreme circumstances such as a death in the family.


Theft and Baggage Loss

The same idea applies to baggage loss or theft, with the additional note that this kind of coverage tends to be very difficult to collect on. If you’re travelling with something extremely valuable like a new laptop or expensive camera equipment, speak with your provider to make sure that it’s covered. These policies can include unexpected exemptions, leaving you uninsured.


Emergency Medical Travel Insurance

Emergency medical travel coverage protects you in case of injury, and it is, without exception, a must-have according to our experts. However, as with all insurance, it’s crucial to read the policy. Common exemptions include injuries sustained during risky activities – such as skydiving, injuries stemming from pre-existing conditions – and injuries sustained while intoxicated.


Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

In general, car rental collision/loss damage insurance covers you if your rental car is damaged or stolen while you have possession of the vehicle. Unless your home car insurance already covers car rentals, then having this type of insurance is a necessity when you’re renting a car during your travels.

For any kind of policy, you should understand the deductible, maximum payable, and exemptions before you sign.

Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards in Canada

We've compared all the credit cards, and these are our top credit cards for travel insurance in Canada.

The Best Travel Insurance Card for Flight Delay/Cancellation Coverage

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

scotia passport visaIf you’re a frequent traveller, you have almost certainly experienced a flight delay. And the last thing you want to do is sleep in the airport or pay a hefty hotel bill. One of the most underrated coverages, flight delay insurance allows you to claim accommodations, meals, and personal items purchased after a lengthy delay. While many cards offer this coverage, Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card provides a robust $500 per insured person towards expenses after just a 4-hour delay.

This card also includes travel emergency medical insurance, delayed/lost baggage insurance, car rental insurance, and travel accident insurance as part of the package. Finally, it includes a complimentary Priority Pass lounge membership and has no foreign transaction fees—an enormous bonus for those who make purchases when on the road. Plus, you get six free visits to the Priority Pass lounge per year, which comes in handy during a flight delay. It also some serious points-earning potential: with the Award-Winning Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite* Card, you can earn up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards®* points program in your first year (that’s up to $350 towards travel)

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card


The Best Travel Insurance Card for Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

scotia gold amexBooking a trip in advance is always a gamble. You never know what might happen that could prevent you from travelling, but with the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Cardyou're covered. If you are forced to cancel or delay your trip because of eligible medical or non-medical causes, you and eligible travelling companion(s) are automatically insured for up to $1,500 per person for eligible expenses (maximum $10,000 per trip) when you charge at least 75% of such trip expenses to your card.

Plus, this card comes with delayed/lost baggage insurance. Like a delayed flight, losing your luggage is only a matter of time. And it's gonna cost you if you have to buy a bunch of replacement clothes, toiletries, and other stuff (especially if there are foreign transaction fees). Insurance against this annoying situation generally covers essential items, but as discussed above, what is considered essential can vary widely. With the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, you’re covered for $500 per insured person after just a 4-hour delay and $1,000 for delayed baggage for all insured persons on the same trip. It’s also a travel rewards credit card that offers a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Scotia Rewards®* points. That’s a lot of points you can put towards your travel costs.

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card


Best Travel Insurance Credit Card for Frequent Flyers

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*

td aeroplan visaAnnual Fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate)
Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
Other perks: Welcome bonus of up to 40,000 Aeroplan Miles
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here. 

We've consistently named this as one of the best credit cards for Aeroplan collectors, but it also comes with a comprehensive travel insurance package that suits frequent flyers of any age. The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* offers an excellent travel medical insurance policy that totally justifies the $120 annual fee for the credit card. Cardholders get up to $1 million of coverage for the first 21 days of their trip, and even cardholders who are 65 or older get coverage for the first 4 days of their trip. Moreover, additional top-up coverage is available if you need it.

Also included is trip cancellation insurance of up to $1,500 per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons, as well as coverage for trip interruption, delayed/lost baggage, flight/trip delay, and car rental insurance.

Another reason to sign up is because of its winning welcome offer (hello, up to 40,000 Aeroplan Miles!), premium perks (like priority boarding/check-in on Air Canada flights) and great potential to rack up Aeroplan Miles. Plus, because it’s an Aeroplan card, purchases at partner sites double your miles. The primary cardholder also gets an annual fee rebate for the 1st year, making this a sky-high deal. Offer ends December 1, 2019.

Other card details: Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%

Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*


Best Travel Insurance Card for Emergency Medical Coverage

BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*

bmo world eliteBut what about emergency medical travel insurance? After hearing from our experts you’ll want to make sure you’re properly covered, and the good news is many cards include up to $1,000,000 in emergency medical travel insurance. This is really essential to have for any trip, as the bills add up during an emergency, and could even bankrupt you.

If you want the ultimate coverage, check out the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, which covers emergency medical protection for up to $2,000,000. Also included are policies for car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption, lost or damaged luggage. That’s sure to give you peace of mind. Cardholders are able to earn up to $540 between all its enticing introductory bonuses. From its excellent introductory bonus of 35,000 welcome points (worth $250), $150 annual fee waiver (after spending $3000 in the first 3 months) and 4 free passes for worldwide VIP airport lounges every year —a $140 value.

Click here to apply for the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*


Guidelines for Buying Travel Insurance

When you're shopping around for travel insurance, here are few pointers to keep in your back pocket:

Every Canadian Traveller Needs Emergency Medical Coverage

As Canadians, we’re accustomed to terrific (and mostly free) healthcare, but if we want that coverage to follow us around the world, you need to purchase emergency medical insurance. Canadian public health insurance is not valid outside of Canada, and the Canadian government will not pay for your medical bills for an illness or accident suffered abroad.

Even if you’re travelling within Canada’s borders, having emergency medical coverage can be crucial. It's true that you’ll likely be covered for some of the same services insured by your home provincial plan. But depending on where you're visiting, some services may not be covered, such as ambulance, hospital transfer, prescription drugs, transportation back to your home province, and procedures not currently approved by your home plan. You'll also likely be charged for any medical bills incurred in Quebec, which requires up-front payment from non-residents. That's why having at least $1 million in emergency medical coverage is a must even if you're taking a “staycation” in Canada.

Consider Getting Your Own Car Rental Insurance

You might not think of car insurance when you’re shopping for travel coverage, but if you’re planning on driving at your destination, it’s worth looking into beforehand. Although you will be offered insurance at the rental counter, these policies are usually restrictive and far more expensive than purchasing in advance.

One seriously important thing to note: rental car collision/loss damage insurance policies will never include liability insurance (if someone sues you due to an accident you caused in the rental car), so keep that in mind when you’re assessing your insurance needs.

Read The Fine Print

Understanding the terms of your policy really is crucial. There’s the issue of exemptions mentioned above, but there are other rules and term limits that you absolutely must be known before you go. For instance, pre-existing medical conditions are usually not covered by travel insurance, and often “high risk” activities (like scuba diving or water-water rafting) aren't covered unless you pay extra for a more comprehensive plan.

Check Your Credit Card Travel Insurance 

You might not be aware of it, but if you have a credit card and you pay for your trip with that card, you may already hold some travel insurance. Make sure you understand the included policy so you don’t spend double on protections. And if you’re looking for a credit card that meets your specific travel insurance needs automatically, consider our top credit cards for travel insurance.

The Verdict

Common sense dictates—and our experts agree—travelling without insurance is not only ill-advised, but it’s also unnecessary. By combining your credit card coverage with any required extras, you can travel worry-free. And really, who wants to fret about whether they're covered on a vacation? Bon voyage!

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

The following two tabs change content below.

Keph Senett

Keph Senett is a Canadian freelance writer with an interest in helping people make solid choices towards debt-free living. Her work has appeared in publications including Al Jazeera America, Greedy Rates, BBC News, and The Globe & Mail.

1 Comment

  1. Danielle Ogilvie on November 16, 2018 at 12:22 am

    I agree, saving a few bucks vs tempting fate doesn’t sit too well with me



Leave a Comment





> >