American Express Cards: Travel Insurance Benefits Guide [In-Depth]

Amex Travel Insurance

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Whenever you book a segment of a trip, you’ll often see an option to purchase travel insurance to protect your adventure. That can often be a good idea, especially if you’re planning a bigger or more expensive trip (though you may be better off getting insurance from a third party instead of the travel provider).

But did you know that a lot of different credit cards come with their own travel insurance benefits? This is a great feature that’s included in the cost of your annual fee, but it’s one many people don’t realize they have or know how to use.

In this article, we’ll look specifically at the Amex travel insurance benefits included with several of their cards, including what’s covered, what isn’t covered, and when you should consider purchasing additional insurance.

Definitions

A lot of the policies described in this guide reference a “common carrier.” A common carrier is simply a method of air, land, or water public transportation (like an airplane, train, bus, or cruise ship).

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Benefits

Hot Tip: For more information, read about the benefits of The Amex Platinum card

The perks of this card are fairly well-known, but it also comes with some less-discussed travel insurance benefits. These features may be less flashy, but they can go a long way to saving you money or protecting you and your family if something goes wrong on a trip.

It also means that you can forgo purchasing certain extra insurance on trips, like a rental car’s collision damage waiver. Some of the insurance options included with The Amex Platinum card include:

  • Car rental insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • The Premier Global Assist Hotline

Note that most of these benefits are contingent on you having paid for the entire fare with the card.

Car Rental Insurance

The car rental insurance included with the Amex Platinum card is relatively extensive, although it’s considered “secondary” coverage. That means that it covers expenses after your personal auto insurance has covered its maximum amount. The included Amex insurance will also cover the deductible on your primary policy.

Coverage is global, but it excludes Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and any countries on the sanctions list maintained by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control. The car rental insurance covers damage or theft of a rental car up to $75,000.

Beyond that, the premium coverage with this card includes some personal injury protection: up to $5,000 for medical care for the cardholder and each passenger, and up to $200,000 accidental death or dismemberment insurance.

Personal property left in the car is also covered in the event of damage or loss due to an accident or theft. Coverage is for up to $1,000 for each person, with a maximum total of $2,000.

Note that liability coverage isn’t included, so you may want to purchase that from the rental agency if given the option.

To activate the card’s car rental coverage, you need to make sure to pay for the entire rental with your card (or use a Membership Rewards redemption certificate) and be listed as the authorized driver on the rental agreement. Then, simply decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company (or elect to purchase a partial waiver).

Hot Tip: To activate the rental car insurance benefit, make sure to decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company.

Make sure to read through the terms carefully, as there are a number of exclusions and conditions. For starters, coverage won’t apply if you’re doing anything against the rental terms, like driving outside of the predetermined rental zone, driving recklessly, or doing anything illegal like driving while intoxicated.

Additionally, the following are some examples of things that are excluded:

  • Larger vehicles like cargo vans or box trucks
  • Rentals used for commercial purposes
  • Motorcycles or mopeds
  • Vehicles driven off-road

Hot Tip: It’s important to call the claims unit as soon as you can after the incident. Of course, take care of anything timely first, like filing a police report or seeking medical care.

Filing a claim is easy and begins with calling the Amex claims unit. If you’re in the U.S., call 1-800-338-1670. If you’re abroad, you can call collect at 1-216-617-2500. You’ll speak with an agent and describe what happened, and the agent will send you a detailed claim form and walk you through next steps.

Remember that documentation will be required, so hang on to anything you can, such as:

  • The rental slip or receipt
  • A police report (if applicable)
  • A copy of the rental agreement

It’s possible to enhance your coverage, including switching coverage from secondary to primary, by registering for Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express. However, most of the benefits you would get from this are already included with this card.

(For information on additional cards that provide this type of coverage, head to our piece: The Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage.)

Bottom Line: The car rental insurance included with the Amex Platinum Card covers a lot as secondary insurance to your main policy. You can opt to pay a small premium for more extensive primary coverage, but the included plan should be sufficient in almost every case.

Baggage Insurance

The Amex Platinum card includes baggage insurance designed to cover lost, stolen, or damaged luggage and its contents. This can be an extremely useful, depending on the situation.

Coverage is up to $2,000 for checked luggage, with a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage per covered person. Note that there’s a total maximum limit of $10,000 for everyone on the trip combined.

As is often the case with credit card-provided insurance, you’ll need to use your Amex Platinum card from American Express to pay for the entire fare for this coverage to take effect.

A handy benefit feature of this baggage insurance is that the primary cardholder, his or her spouse or domestic partner, and any dependent children (under 23) are all included. That means that if you’re on a family trip and something happens to everyone’s luggage, you’ll all be covered.

Hot Tip: Keep in mind that coverage applies to baggage during a trip on a “common carrier,” such as a plane, train, bus, ship, or other public modes of transportation. If something happens to your bags during a vacation (but not during your flights), then it won’t be covered.

Something to keep in mind is that the policy considers certain items to be “high-risk,” and caps coverage of these items at $1,000 per person. High-risk items include:

  • Jewelry
  • Sporting equipment
  • Cameras or photography gear
  • Computers and electronics
  • Precious metals
  • Fur clothing

The insurance policy also excludes items like cash, travel documents, and certain medical items like eyeglasses, contact lenses, or prosthetic limbs. Just about everything else, though, should be covered.

The first step to file a claim is to reach out to the Amex claims processing department. Your best option is to call and have a customer service agent walk you through the process. The number is 1-800-645-9700 or collect from overseas at 1-303-273-6498.

Note that Amex baggage insurance coverage (like the car rental insurance) is secondary — in this case, to the common carrier’s coverage. That means that the policy will only pay after the carrier pays, so you’ll have to file a claim with the carrier first.

If that claim is denied, or if it doesn’t cover the full cost of your luggage and contents, then the Amex plan is applicable.

Bottom Line: The baggage insurance included with your Amex Platinum Card can help cover the cost of lost or ruined clothing, personal items, and more. Remember that in order to make a claim, you’ll need to use the card to pay for your full fare.

The Premium Global Assist Hotline

The Premium Global Assist Hotline is a great feature that comes with several Amex cards, although the Platinum Card from American Express has the most extensive service.

Basically, you can call the Premium Global Assist Hotline any time you’re 100 miles or more away from home and need logistical help…big or small. This differs from the card’s concierge service, which is useful for things like shopping help, booking tickets, or getting restaurant recommendations and reservations. It’s more for things like:

  • Help replacing a lost passport
  • Canceling lost credit cards
  • Emergency translation/interpretation services
  • Help finding a lost item
  • Help dealing with lost luggage, including staying on top of the airline until it’s found
  • Emergency legal or medical referrals
  • Emergency medical evacuation/transportation
  • Urgent message relay in the event you can’t get in touch with family or friends during an emergency

Hot Tip: You can reach the Premium Global Assist Hotline at 1-800-345-AMEX (2639), or collect (when calling from abroad) at 1-715-343-7979.

The hotline can also help with certain aspects of planning your trip (again, think “logistics,” not “entertainment”) such as:

  • Customs and passport information, including figuring out what visas you’ll need and how to apply, or what you can and can’t bring into the country
  • Cultural information, like questions about currency, tourist office locations, or even tipping procedures
  • Foreign exchange rates
  • Recommendations for inoculations before traveling to certain regions
  • Weather trends and forecasts

The medical assistance is particularly valuable, should there ever be a situation requiring it. I know this is something I’ve personally thought about — I’ve gotten sick before while in foreign countries where I didn’t speak the local language. Fortunately, I got better and didn’t need treatment, but had things gone differently, having access to a benefit like the Global Assist Hotline could have been a huge relief.

If you’re traveling and fall ill or become injured, and you’re somewhere where you can’t get adequate treatment, the Global Assist Hotline’s medical team can arrange and cover expenses for transportation to definitive care closer to home.

Hot Tip: Medical transportation costs arranged by the Global Assist Hotline are covered, but any costs you incur that were not arranged through the hotline won’t be reimbursed. Make sure to call ASAP before making any arrangements on your own.

This benefit applies to the cardholder, spouse/domestic partner and dependents up to 23 years old (or 26 if a full-time student)…although any beneficiaries have to be traveling on the same itinerary as the cardholder. Preexisting conditions are excluded.

The Global Assist Hotline can help with a few other, less-extreme medical needs as well, including prescription medication replacement, if you lose or forget medication, and physician or dentist referral.

If your wallet is lost or stolen, the hotline will provide certain financial assistance, including wiring you emergency cash (which will be charged to your card account), or helping you check into or out of a hotel while you don’t have your card present.

In terms of legal support, the hotline can provide a referral to a local English-speaking lawyer, help connect you to bail bond agencies that accept American Express, and connect you with the nearest consulate or embassy.

Bottom Line: The Premium Global Assistance Hotline can be a real help whether you’re trying to figure out visa requirements or need to find a local doctor while traveling. If you need emergency medical transportation to a facility back home, the hotline can arrange it and cover all expenses. As always, be sure to read the terms.

Card Summary

This card comes with a number of useful premium travel insurance and coverage benefits. While you should always read the terms to make sure any specific situations you’re worried about are included, it’s helpful to know that this coverage is in place.

The American Express® Gold Card

Benefits

The Amex Gold Card comes with some great benefits, such as:

  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, plus 4x points at U.S. grocery stores and restaurants
  • $100 annual airline credit
  • $120 annual dining credit
  • Access to The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel

Like the Amex Platinum Card, this card comes with certain travel protections and benefits, although they’re not quite as comprehensive or generous as what’s included with the more premium card.

Car Rental Insurance

The Amex Gold Card also comes with secondary car rental insurance for primary and additional cardholders — again, this means that it kicks in after your primary or personal auto insurance.

This insurance provides coverage up to $50,000 in the event of damage due to an accident or theft.

To activate coverage, just use your card to pay for the entire rental and decline the full collision damage waiver offered by the rental company. The coverage is valid for up to 30 consecutive days.

There are a few exclusions, including vans, trucks, and off-road vehicles. Damage caused by personal liability or illegal activity are also specifically excluded.

Submitting a claim is easy. After filing a police report, notify American Express by calling 1-800-338-1670 (or 1-216-617-2500 if abroad). A customer service agent will walk you through the rest of the claims process from there.

Hot Tip: Remember to make sure that you (the cardholder) are listed as the primary driver on the rental agreement.

Documentation will likely be required, so make sure to keep all available paperwork, such as:

  • The rental slip or receipt
  • A police report (if applicable)
  • A copy of the rental agreement

One thing to keep in mind: unlike the insurance provided with The Platinum Card, there is no car rental coverage for property loss, death, dismemberment, or medical care. You may want to supplement the insurance by registering for Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express.

Bottom Line: The Amex Gold Card comes with useful car rental insurance, although it only covers damage and theft — not liability, property loss, or injury. Depending on your personal car insurance plan, you may want to consider adding the Premium Car Rental Protection offered by American Express.

Baggage Insurance

It’s one of the worst ways to start a trip: landing, waiting at baggage claim, and finding out that the airline has no idea where your luggage is.

If that happens to you, though, you’re in luck — as long as you used your Amex Gold Card to pay for the flight.

This card includes baggage insurance, which covers any loss, damage or theft while traveling on a common carrier. Carry-on luggage is covered up to $1,250, and checked bags are covered for up to $500. That should be enough to help you replace clothes, bags, and personal items to get you back on track for the trip.

Remember that certain “high-risk” items are limited to $250 in coverage. Those items include:

  • Jewelry
  • Sporting equipment
  • Cameras or photography gear
  • Computers and electronics
  • Precious metals
  • Fur clothing

For those items, you may be able to add them to your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance for minimal additional cost.

The cardholder’s spouse/domestic partner and children are covered as well.

This insurance is secondary, meaning it will pay for anything that isn’t covered by the common carrier’s claims process. The easiest way to make a claim is by calling 1-800-645-9700 (U.S.) or 1-303-273- 6498 (overseas collect).

Bottom Line: Between coverage provided by the airline or other common carrier and the baggage insurance provided by the Amex Gold Card, you can feel confident if anything happens to your luggage during transit.

The Global Assist Hotline

As with the more premium Amex cards, cardholders with the Amex Gold Card can use the Global Assist Hotline while planning travel or if an emergency happens during a trip.

The difference between the Amex Platinum Card and other cards is that with the premium card, many of the costs for services accessed through the hotline are covered. With other cards, including the Amex Gold Card, fewer benefits are covered, meaning that you may be responsible for the fees of the services that the hotline coordinates for you.

Hot Tip: You can reach the Global Assist Hotline at 1-800-345-AMEX (2639), or call collect from abroad at 1-715-343-7979.

Planning services, such as recommended vaccinations and visa information, are generally complimentary. However, more involved services like emergency translation and emergency medical transportation will charge fees (potentially extensive depending on the situation).

Even though American Express doesn’t cover the same expenses for all cardholders, the logistical assistance can still be valuable during a true emergency.

Bottom Line: Having access to logistical assistance through the Global Assist Hotline can be extremely helpful in an emergency, even if you may have to pay for some services. You can always call and find out about fees before being charged for anything.

Card Summary

While the travel insurance benefits included with this card are a bit limited in comparison to the Platinum Card from American Express, this card still offers a wide, multi-featured range of services and protection for when things go wrong on the road.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express & Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Benefits

These 2 cards are similar to each other with 1 major difference: the first earns Membership Rewards points, while the second earns cash-back. Both, however, come with travel insurance benefits.

While the benefits are less extensive than those that come with the premium cards above, you might be surprised by how much is offered by the Amex EveryDay Card and the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, including:

  • Car rental insurance
  • The Premier Global Assist Hotline

While the 2 cards are separate products, the specifics of the travel insurance benefits, which you can find here, are identical between them.

Car Rental Insurance

Like the Amex Gold Card, these cards offer secondary damage and theft coverage for rental cars.

To activate coverage, simply use your card to pay for a rental car and make sure that you (the cardholder) are listed as the authorized driver on the rental agreement. Then, decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company (or pay for a partial collision damage waiver).

Coverage is up to $50,000 for damage caused by an accident or theft. Exclusions apply, including for larger vans and trucks or off-road vehicles. Just like with the other cards, damage caused by illegal actions is excluded.

To submit a claim, contact American Express as soon as you can, after filing a police report and dealing with any pressing matters like medical care or getting the car towed. Call 1-800-338-1670 (or 1-216-617-2500 if abroad), and a customer service agent will help you get the claim started.

As with the Amex Gold Card, note that there is no car rental coverage for property loss, death, dismemberment, or medical care. Depending on what your personal car insurance would cover, consider supplementing the insurance by registering for Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express.

Bottom Line: The rental car insurance provided by the Amex EveryDay Card and Blue Cash Everyday Card is extensive. For anything that isn’t covered, you can consider registering for Premium Car Rental Protection from American Express.

The Global Assist Hotline

The Amex EveryDay Card and the Blue Cash Everyday Card have identical access to the Global Assist Hotline as the American Express® Gold Card. Fewer benefits are covered than if you were using the Platinum Card® from American Express, so you may be responsible for service fees.

However, the hotline is free to access, and the logistical assistance provided by the service associates can be extremely valuable as you plan a trip or try to manage a personal or family crisis.

Hot Tip: Call the Global Assist Hotline at 1-800-345-AMEX (2639), or collect (when calling from abroad) at 1-715-343-7979.

As with most cards, planning services, such as recommended vaccinations and visa information, are generally complimentary. More involved services like emergency translation, interpretation, and emergency medical transportation will charge fees.

Bottom Line: Even if you have to pay for some services, the logistical assistance provided through the Global Assist Hotline can be helpful during an emergency.

Card Summary

The Amex EveryDay Card and the Blue Cash Everyday Card come with extensive travel insurance benefits that can provide a measure of comfort for cardholders who aren’t willing to invest in a premium-level card.

Hot Tip: Keep in mind that these 2 cards don’t come with a baggage insurance benefit, unlike the premium cards. You may want to purchase supplementary insurance if that’s a concern.

Final Thoughts

Many cards offered by American Express come with great travel insurance benefits. While the more premium (and expensive) cards offer more extensive benefits, even cards like the Amex EveryDay Card offer you valuable protection during your travels.

Note that American Express cards don’t include trip cancellation or delay coverage, nor baggage delay coverage — just loss and damage.

If you’re seeking additional coverage for your trip, like cancellation coverage or emergency medical insurance, American Express offers a stand-alone travel insurance product you can use to supplement what your card provides.

Additionally, plenty of third-party companies offer travel insurance. If you decide that what’s included with your card isn’t enough, you can always shop around for additional coverage. Having coverage with your card is a great benefit, though, since it means whatever policy you buy can be less extensive.


For more general information on travel insurance, check out our Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Travel Insurance (For Your Situation).

 

FAQ

What is American Express travel insurance?

American Express travel insurance can refer to 2 separate things: travel insurance features that come for free with various American Express credit and charge cards, or a standalone travel insurance product sold by American Express.

Which American Express cards come with travel insurance?

The short answer: virtually all of them.

The longer answer: each card comes with different features and perks. Some cards, such as the Platinum Card® from American Express, come with high-value baggage insurance, as well as coverage for expensive rental cars with personal injury features and emergency medical transportation coverage.

Other cards, like the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, come with more limited travel insurance benefits. It’s important to read guides such as this one and check your terms and conditions to see exactly what benefits your credit or charge card includes.

Do I have to pay for the trip with my American Express card to get the travel insurance benefits?

In most cases, yes; paying the entire fare with your American Express card is required in order to activate coverage. There may be exceptions to this, but if you plan to rely on any travel insurance features included with your card, it’s best to use your card to pay for the trip.

What kinds of things does my American Express credit card's travel insurance cover?

Amex travel insurance features vary by card, but can include some or all of:

  • Rental car insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Global assistance
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Physician/dentist referral

Does American Express travel insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Most medical-related coverage offered by Amex travel insurance specifically excludes pre-existing conditions. If that’s something you’re worried about, you may wish to seek supplementary travel or medical coverage.

How does American Express travel insurance define a pre-existing condition?

According to Amex: “A pre-existing condition is any sickness, illness, or injury that has manifested itself, become acute, or was being treated in the 60-day period immediately prior to the start of a trip.”

Does American Express travel insurance cover issues related to pregnancy?

Yes, as long as you are not traveling against the advice of a physician. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking a trip.

Should I get separate travel insurance in addition to what comes with my card?

You should look into the specific benefit terms of your card when deciding whether you need additional coverage or not.

American Express offers a standalone travel insurance product that can be used to supplement the insurance that comes with your card. This could be a good option if you decide you do need additional coverage.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

24 comments

  1. Connie Eales · September 17, 2018 · Reply

    Can’t see anything about age limits

    • Stephen Au · September 18, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Connie,

      What were you wondering about age limits?

    • alan arab · September 5, 2019 · Reply

      Does the American Express Gold card cover missed flights?

      • Christine Krzyszton · September 5, 2019 · Reply

        Hello Alan. There is no coverage for missing a flight or for a missed connection. American Express cards do not come with trip cancellation or interruption benefits.

  2. Stella Sutherland · December 10, 2018 · Reply

    Be aware that WOW airline, and perhaps some others, do not accept Amex for payment.

  3. John Synnott · January 18, 2019 · Reply

    I am investigating applying for an American Express card in order to access the travel/medical benefits. Do these Travel Medical benefits apply if I am 65 or older?

  4. Chase Sapphire Reserve travel benefits are significantly better than AMEX. I have both and trip delay / cancellation benefit is a big one that most people might actually use, which AMEX does not offer. It’s a real hole in their package of benefits IMO.

  5. Maggie Marr · April 18, 2019 · Reply

    I have the Delta gold SkyMiles AMEX card. I don’t see anything here about what type of travel insurance is available for this card. Does it include car rental insurance. Thanks.

  6. Hi,

    I have both the Amex Gold and Platinum charge cards. However, I know I get more bonus points booking with the gold card (3x opposed to 2x through Amex Travel).

    My question is: If I book with my Gold Card, will I still be eligible for my Amex Platinum Travel Insurance as it’s all linked to my account? Or would I need to book with my Platinum Card?

    Thanks

    • Hi Dan,

      I’m guessing from your comment that you are referring to the UK versions of the American Express Gold & Platinum cards. In any case, in order to receive the Platinum travel insurance, your travel must be purchased with the Platinum card.

  7. Herbert Molano · June 27, 2019 · Reply

    Those considering not buying separate coverage should read the “Common Carrier benefit”. It appears that if the accident occurs at the airport rather than the aircraft or the effect of siting on a prolonged flight are not felt until after the passenger leaves the aircraft, then the basic card coverage that comes with the credit card does not cover the passenger. Is this your interpretation as well?

    • Christine Krzyszton · July 1, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Herbert and thanks for your question. The “Common Carrier Benefit” of the Travel Accident Insurance coverage only pays if there is an accidental death or dismemberment while riding as a passenger on a common carrier or if one is struck by a common carrier on a covered trip. The coverage is really ancillary and not meant to take the place of a comprehensive travel insurance policy, private medical insurance, or life insurance. Also, there is no coverage for illness or injuries other than accidental death or dismemberment. The example you provided of a passenger having symptoms after leaving the aircraft would not be considered accidental. It is possible to have a severe accidental injury or death while at the airport but this card coverage is not designed to cover such a situation. Thank you for reading and for your thoughts.

  8. Jim Schultz · August 13, 2019 · Reply

    Question regarding Global Assist Hotline for a Platinum Amex Card. Are the benefits

    available only while traveling on a trip which was fully paid for on that card?

    For example, driving 200 miles from home and no Amex charge for anything.

    Also, flying overseas on frequent flyer points with rental car paid on the card?

  9. Marilyn Manning · August 14, 2019 · Reply

    I was charged for a travel delay on my upcoming trip to Mexico. What does that cover please?

    • Christine Krzyszton · August 14, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Marilyn. We’d like to help you but need some clarification. Could you please tell us exactly what you were charged for on your upcoming flight?

      • So if one has their handbag stolen on transit at an airport (not on the plane but at the airport waiting for connected flight) are they covered with American Express Business Gold card?

        • Christine Krzyszton · September 3, 2019 · Reply

          This doesn’t sound like a incident that would be covered because it does not fall into the category of checked or carry on luggage while in transit on a common carrier. However, you can call the number on the back of your card for specific questions regarding coverages.

  10. Yolande Booth · October 7, 2019 · Reply

    I had to remove myself from a flight just before boarding due to family death, will this be covered?

    • Hi Yolande,

      That is a chance that may be covered. You should contact the airline directly to receive more information.

      Thanks for reading!

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