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Does Travel Insurance Protect My Personal Belongings Beyond My Baggage?

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Senitra Horbrook
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Senitra Horbrook

Writer

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Senitra Horbrook is a frequent solo traveler who began using points and miles in 2012. Formerly credit cards editor at The Points Guy, Senitra has also contributed to Forbes Advisor, AwardWallet, Insi...
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Keri Stooksbury

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Uh-oh. You left your laptop in your locked rental car during a trip and returned to find it stolen. Or, you dropped your expensive camera while on vacation and damaged it. You may have baggage coverage as part of your travel insurance policy, but since your incident isn’t the result of mishandling from a common carrier — such as an airplane, train, ship, or bus — do you know whether you can file a claim to be reimbursed for those items?

With so many exclusions, reimbursement limits, and terms like “actual cash value” versus “replacement cost,” it can be difficult to understand what type of insurance covers what kind of incident involving personal property.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple. Sometimes, baggage coverage within a travel insurance policy only covers you specifically when traveling on a common carrier. Other times, travel insurance can protect your personal belongings beyond your baggage and at any point during your trip. 

However, even if it does cover you, your travel insurance may limit the dollar amounts eligible for reimbursement, and high-end items may not be covered at all. But you may not be completely out of luck, as there are several ways to ensure your personal property is covered while traveling. 

Here’s a closer look at different types of coverage, such as baggage insurance, personal property insurance, and credit card benefits, and how they may protect your personal belongings during your travels.

What Travel Insurance Covers

Travel insurance can protect you against losses from many scenarios you might encounter while traveling. From covering trip delays and interruptions, cancellations, lost or delayed baggage, illnesses, or accidents requiring medical evacuation, purchasing travel insurance can provide peace of mind that you won’t be out a significant amount of money should something go wrong during your travels.

You can buy a comprehensive travel insurance plan that typically includes trip cancellation, trip delay and interruption, lost luggage, and medical coverage.

Or, instead of buying a comprehensive plan, some travel insurance companies allow you to purchase the specific coverages you want to include with your plan. For example, if you only want insurance for trip cancellation, you may be able to purchase that specific coverage. Alternatively, if you just want medical coverage because your personal health insurance doesn’t cover you abroad, you can buy a travel medical insurance policy.

What Baggage Insurance Covers

Packing a suitcase
Protect your bag in case it doesn’t show up at your destination. Image Credit: FreePik

Baggage insurance is a subset of travel insurance, typically covering lost or delayed luggage while traveling. So, if you check in your suitcase before a flight and your suitcase fails to show up at baggage claim when you arrive at your destination, you’ll be covered with your baggage insurance. Some policies may only cover checked baggage, while others also cover carry-on bags.

You can get baggage insurance as part of a comprehensive plan, separate coverage, or as part of your credit card’s travel insurance benefits. However, if you’re looking into having credit card baggage coverage, keep in mind that it only tends to cover you for damage or loss from a common carrier.

Depending on the policy, baggage delay coverage will reimburse you when you purchase items you need, such as a toothbrush, toiletries, and clothes, for the time that you don’t have your belongings. A minimum number of hours may be required for the delay coverage to kick in, plus a daily and/or per-person reimbursement limit. If your baggage is delayed for 2 hours, but your policy only provides reimbursement for delays of 8 hours or longer, you likely won’t be covered for any purchases during that 2-hour delay.

Meanwhile, under baggage loss coverage, you can be reimbursed for the entire missing piece of baggage — including its contents — if it remains lost for a period set by the insurance company. Damaged baggage claims can also be made under baggage loss coverage. Airlines typically offer reimbursement for lost or damaged baggage, however, travel insurance can provide additional reimbursement should you have eligible costs not covered by the airline.

Depending on the policy, you may be covered for damage or loss to your personal property beyond your baggage at any point during your trip, not just while traveling on a common carrier, like an airplane, train, ship, or bus. 

Every plan is different, so it is essential to read your plan documents to understand whether or not personal property, such as a stolen laptop from a rental car, is covered beyond baggage and at any time during your trip. In addition, travel insurance plans may exclude certain valuables or only have low reimbursement limits, so you may need to turn to your personal property coverage through your homeowner’s, condo, or renter’s insurance.

Bottom Line:

Some travel insurance plans may provide secondary coverage for your personal belongings, paying for items that may not have been fully reimbursed by other means, such as from an airline or through your homeowner’s insurance.

What Personal Property Insurance Covers

A homeowners’ or renter’s insurance policy typically includes personal property coverage. It is designed to protect the things you own, like your furniture, clothing, and electronics, from damage or theft. However, it doesn’t just cover the items inside your home or apartment; it also covers personal property with you no matter where you are in the world. It does not cover lost items, though — for example, if you left your cell phone behind in a hotel room. 

Personal property coverage usually limits how much you can receive for specific items, and you’ll also need to pay your policy’s deductible before you can be reimbursed.

There are 2 types of personal property coverage: replacement cost and actual cash value

Replacement cost typically pays you the amount it will take to buy a similar new item. So if your laptop purchased 2 years ago for $1,000 is stolen and a similar one now costs $1,500, that is how much you will receive, minus your deductible. 

Actual cash value calculates depreciation to reimburse you based on the current value of an item. In this instance, if the 2-year-old laptop you bought for $1,000 is stolen, you might only receive $600 minus your deductible, depending on how your insurance company calculates depreciation.

Travel Jewelry Box and Storage
Taking expensive jewelry? You may need an insurance rider. Image Credit: Kyle Frederick on Unsplash

You may need an insurance rider in addition to your standard coverage for specific items, such as expensive jewelry, sporting equipment, or musical instruments. This gives you higher reimbursement limits on your valuables. An insurance rider is sometimes called “scheduling” or an “endorsement.”

Hot Tip:

Most policies use actual cash value for personal property reimbursement. Replacement cost tends to be more expensive and be an optional addition to your policy. 

When You Might Not Be Covered

Both baggage insurance and personal property insurance have exclusions to their coverage. Every policy is different, but here are some common reasons why either type of coverage may not cover your personal belongings:

  • Damage due to storm surges or floods. You’d need flood insurance for coverage.
  • Damage due to earthquakes. You’d need earthquake insurance for coverage.
  • Electronic malfunctions. You’d need to turn to your manufacturer’s or extended warranty.
  • You can’t prove ownership. You typically need receipts to prove ownership. Photographs and item serial numbers can also help.
  • You misplaced something. Not being able to find your item is not considered a covered loss.
  • You left your belongings unsupervised. A theft claim typically requires that your items were in a secure location to qualify as a covered loss.
  • You didn’t report your loss to the authorities or the common carrier, which is required by most insurance policies for reimbursement.

Other Ways To Protect Your Personal Belongings

If you didn’t purchase travel insurance and you don’t have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, but your property is lost, stolen, or damaged outside of your baggage while traveling, your credit card benefits may be able to help. Here’s how:

Purchase Protection

Several credit cards offer purchase protection, which can provide reimbursement for the repair or replacement of a recently purchased item that has been lost, stolen, or damaged. With Chase credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, this benefit applies to purchases within 120 days and offers reimbursement of up to $500 per claim (up to $50,000 per account). 

There are several exclusions, including some that are travel-related. For example, it doesn’t cover: 

  • Items under the control and care of a common carrier, including the U.S. Postal Service, airplanes, or a delivery service
  • Items in your baggage on a common carrier unless hand carried or under your supervision or that of a companion you know, including but not limited to jewelry and watches

Some American Express cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, also have purchase protection. The Amex benefit applies to purchases within the past 90 days and offers reimbursement of up to $10,000 per claim (up to $50,000 per eligible card). Just like Chase, any damage or theft while under the control of a third party, like an airline, and theft from baggage are excluded. 

Hot Tip:

You need to have charged all or a portion of the purchase to your associated card. Purchase protection only pays for your loss after any other coverage you have exhausted, so it should be your last stop if you have travel or personal property insurance.

Extended Warranty Protection

If you’re traveling and an item with you breaks or is damaged, and it’s beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period, you may be able to utilize extended warranty protection from the credit card you purchased the item. Select credit cards from several issuers — including Chase, Amex, Capital One, and Citi — have this benefit.

Citi offers the best extended warranty benefit by extending the manufacturer’s warranty for an additional 24 months and providing reimbursement of up to $10,000 to repair or replace your item. Other card issuers only have an additional 1 year of extended warranty protection.

Final Thoughts

There are several ways to ensure your personal property is covered during a trip. If you don’t have an existing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you should look into getting one, but travel insurance coverage can also help fill the gaps. Before you purchase a policy, ensure you understand exactly what’s included so you’re not left without proper coverage in your time of need.


For the purchase protection benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, purchase protection is an embedded benefit of your card membership and requires no enrollment. It can help protect covered purchases made on your eligible card when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the covered purchase date. The coverage is limited up to $10,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per card member account per calendar year. Coverage limits apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does travel insurance cover my personal belongings?

Your personal items can be covered by travel insurance, depending on your policy. Be sure to read your plan documents to understand whether or not your individual property is covered beyond your baggage.

Does travel insurance cover my expensive items?

Some travel insurance policies cover the loss of expensive items like jewelry, electronics, or cameras. However, the policies may have dollar limits, such as up to $1,000. You may want to insure high-value items through your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, as it will cover your personal items even when traveling away from home.

Does travel insurance cover a lost or stolen passport while on a trip?

If your passport is lost or stolen while on a trip, travel insurance may help you in various ways. Baggage insurance may cover fees related to getting a new passport, and trip interruption coverage may reimburse you for expenses related to rescheduling your travel while you wait for a new passport.

Can personal property be insured anywhere in the world?

Personal property coverage from a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy protects you no matter where you are in the world. You can be on the beach, in a hotel room, in a rental car — it’s all covered.

Senitra Horbrook's image

About Senitra Horbrook

Senitra Horbrook is a frequent solo traveler who began using points and miles in 2012. Formerly credit cards editor at The Points Guy, Senitra has also contributed to Forbes Advisor, AwardWallet, Insider, among others.

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