Travel insurance and credit cards - Important to read if you rely on your credit card travel insurance

For many years, we have had a Global Plus credit card that has provided us with travel insurance whenever we travel for leisure. No cover for business travel, no cover after 90 days, but I have read the terms and conditions and been very comfortable with the cover that we have had available.

In fact, I have used the cover twice, and been very impressed with the results.  Once for an ear infection in Fiji, and more significantly, for a broken elbow (at the start of a 7 week cycling trip of France.)  The insurer (AIG) was fantastic to deal with, got us rental car to continue our trip in France as I couldn't ride my bike, and then when it was all too painful and not at all enjoyable, arranged for us to come home after only 3 weeks ago.  I can't speak highly enough of the cover that we had and the service provided to us when we needed it.

This year, as we were getting ready to go on our annual cycling trip (this year to the USA), I had a small health issue that required heavy duty antibiotics.  So, having been given the all clear to travel by my GP, I did the right thing and phoned my card insurer to let them know and check whether I would be insured.

Unbeknown to me (they probably sent me an email or a gobbledegook generic letter), the insurer on the policy had been changed in August last year.  The new insurer is Cigna, with a very different approach and attitude (bring back AIG!!!).  After an hour on the phone (with a pleasant young man), having gone through my entire medical history (for my whole life), I was told that I would be covered for every pre-existing condition for $550 for this trip, and yes, I had to do this every year before I travelled.

These are things that will never happen again, things that are irrelevant, but their computer didn't ask me how long ago they happened and assumed that I had all these conditions now.

Although I am enthusiastic about the value of insurance, I had to do a cost benefit analysis and decide that my ear infection in Fiji in 2007 was unlikely to occur again, and the same with other conditions, and that I am pretty well recovered from my current health situation.  So I said no thanks.  I will take the risk (and hope like anything that the decision doesn't come back to haunt me in the next four weeks.)

The whole exercise (apart from making me pretty annoyed....) made me realise how important it is for us to understand what the travel insurance is that we are relying on works, who the insurer is, what the wording is.  Since Cigna have been the insurer, the policy wording has been changed with the first statement being about 'your duty of disclosure'.

Given the rigmarole that I went through, I am no longer as comfortable as I have been in the quality of cover.

As soon as I get back, I will be cancelling my personal card, after getting a new card from the Airpoints KiwiBank ca

rd, where the insurer is Tower. Yes it is shorter period cover (only 40 days), but also covers me for business travel as long as I book it with that card (a little more administration, but probably worth it.).  I will keep my business card and the cover with Cigna, but won't be holding my breath that it will actually provide me with the cover.

When I next travel, I may even investigate paying for a stand alone travel insurance policy.

The moral of the story is:

Make sure that you know what your travel insurance covers, who the insurer is and what you have to declare before you leave.


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