Q – (8.4.23) –  As you are aware, my wife and I always purchase comprehensive travel insurance when we travel overseas. Last week, however, we had dinner with friends who are really well-traveled and who will soon be using your travel services. They mentioned that they depend on their Chase Sapphire Reserve card in lieu of separate or independent insurance. I’ve since looked over the coverage and it looks pretty good including 100K in emergency evacuation coverage.

We’re considering upgrading our credit card portfolio but wanted to get your thoughts before we do, Apologies if you have already covered this topic and warmest regards.

A – Thanks so much for your question, one that is on the minds of many travelers. And please no worry about the question possibly being asked previously. Insurance can be a confusing game and it is always good to have the opportunity to update information. Unfortunately, the consumer travel media does not cover this subject in great detail because of the travel advertising clout of credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies.        

No need to mince words – we never suggest that travelers rely on a credit card company for coverage. They outsource coverage and there is no one in the transaction to seriously represent your interests.

Our Senior Editor, for instance, carries the Chase Preferred Sapphire card. It is a lovely little card but we think the coverage is inadequate although it does improve with the highest levels of upgraded cards. These days, we think that $100,000 is an inadequate amount for emergency evacuation, the most critical component of any credit card used for travel purposes. An emergency helicopter evacuation can cost close to the maximum amount covered and that would not cover hospitalization or medical care. We are now recommending a minimum of $500,000 in emergency evacuation coverage.

Here is the problem: When the media tries to analyze the cost/benefits of several policies, they rarely speak to those who sell those policies on a regular basis. That means that the two most critical questions are rarely if ever, asked:

01 – How do you determine the financial standing of the insurance provider?

02 – When you purchase a travel insurance policy for a trip from a travel advisor, to what degree have they and will they become your advocates should a claim initially be denied?

Suppose, for instance, you have what seems to be a valid claim. But, for whatever technical reasons, your claim is denied by the insurance company’s underwriters. Is your consultant in a position to personally intervene with the possibility of getting your insurer to reopen the case? Will your travel advisor be your advocate?

This is the real secret of purchasing travel insurance and, for some rather obvious reasons, travel insurers never bring it up. Sorry for the long answer but hope this is helpful.