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Credit card travel insurance and COVID: What can you get now?

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NAB and Westpac and St.George have updated their complimentary credit card travel insurance policies to include some COVID cover in 2022. Here's what you need to know.

Travel is back, but it is a bit different with the coronavirus pandemic in play.

While borders are open to most countries, the government's Smartraveller website regularly reviews advice for destinations and says travel insurance is "as important as your passport".

A 2022 Finder survey also found that Australians' biggest travel concerns were catching COVID-19 while overseas and having to quarantine after their trip.

How many credit cards have complimentary travel insurance that covers COVID-19?

Earlier in 2022, Finder looked at 32 credit cards with travel insurance and found some cover on 16 cards from major lenders ANZ and American Express.

Now, we have found over 30 cards with COVID-19 cover from 8 providers:

Most of these providers updated their policies to come into effect from 30 June 2022, for travel after that date.

"The world has changed over the last 2 years and with borders now open, we have updated our credit card complimentary insurance to give customers additional peace of mind when travelling overseas," Steve Rubenstein, Westpac's managing director of consumer finance, said in a statement in July.

What COVID-related costs can be covered?

If the country you're travelling to is not on the government's Do Not Travel list and the borders are open, travel insurance can cover you for the following COVID-related benefits:

  • If you need to amend or cancel your trip because you or your travelling companion is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Medical expenses if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 during your trip.
  • Additional accommodation expenses if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to isolate during your trip.

Some American Express cards can cover international border closures as well.

For example, the American Express Platinum Edge Card says on the Amex website that it can cover you "if you need to amend or cancel your trip as a result of border closures or upgraded travel advisory warnings related to COVID-19 that occur after you made your booking".

What COVID-related costs aren't covered?

Most of these policies don't include cover for domestic travel. One exception is policies on eligible American Express cards.

This means if there's a domestic border closure related to COVID-19, you usually won't be covered for cancellation or rearrangement costs.

In general, you also won't be covered for:

  • Going to a country with a Do Not Travel warning (you can find these on Smartraveller).
  • Journeys where the borders are closed before your trip starts – even if you have an Australian government travel exemption.

You won't be able to make a successful claim either if you travel against a doctor's advice or you receive a refund or voucher for the amounts you're claiming.

If you're not sure if your credit card covers COVID-19, call your provider or the insurance company listed in the insurance policy document (or check the document).

How does it compare to standalone travel insurance?

If you don't plan to get a credit card or your current card doesn't come with travel insurance for COVID, standalone travel insurance could be a better option.

There are currently 26 travel insurance providers offering some kind of COVID cover. In most cases, it's similar to the level of cover you get with top credit cards' policies.

You can find them here.

Be careful if you have a credit card travel insurance policy and booked an expensive trip. It often comes with a cap on how much you can claim. For instance, ANZ's Platinum and Black credit cards have a $20,000 cancellation cover limit.

In many cases, this will be enough to cover your trip. But it's always good to check before you travel.

Tips for credit card travel insurance

If you plan to take out travel insurance through a credit card:

  • Check how you get cover. Most credit cards with travel insurance give you cover when you use the card to pay for some or all of your return travel tickets. Travel periods typically range from 3 to 6 months.
  • See if pre-existing conditions are covered. Even if the policy gives you some COVID cover, it could be overruled if your pre-existing health condition isn't covered. You can often get a condition approved, but may need to apply before you travel.
  • Keep the details handy. Have the insurance provider's phone number, credit card details and proof of travel ticket purchases on hand.
  • Remember that you'll need to pay the costs before a claim is approved. If you're using your credit card, pay it off as soon as possible to save on interest charges. You can also avoid them completely if you're eligible for interest-free days.
  • Compare policies. If there's cover you really want for your trip, look at the credit card insurance policy booklet and compare its cover to a retail policy. Sometimes it will be enough, but paying for a standalone policy will be worth it if it gives you greater peace of mind.

If you are considering a credit card because of its complimentary travel insurance, make sure that it's the right deal for your situation. If it isn't, consider a standalone travel insurance policy that covers COVID-19.

Note: We updated this article on 4 August 2022 to reflect changes in credit card complimentary travel insurance policies across 6 providers.

Images: Getty Images

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