Bank card insurance: limitations abroad

When you go abroad, you might think the insurance you get through your bank card is enough. You do need to take into account the limitations of bank card insurance and consider taking out international insurance for greater safety.

Two sorts of cover exist: insurance cover (death/disability, luggage, cancellation, delay and personal liability) and assistance cover (medical expenses in the event of accident or illness, medical repatriation, early return home etc.).

Your bank card abroad

Who is covered by your bank card?

Most cards cover: the cardholder, his spouse or partner, his children if unmarried, dependant and under the age of 25 (whether or not they are travelling with the cardholder), his dependant grandparents and unmarried grandchildren under the age of 25 (travelling with the cardholder).

How long are you covered abroad with your card?

  • Insurance cover: for the first 3 months of the trip with Visa, Visa Premier, MasterCard and Mastercard Gold. Cover begins when you are over 100 km away from home.
  • Assistance cover: for the first 3 months of the trip with Visa, Visa Premier, and MasterCard Gold outside the home country.

How can you access the insurance/travel assistance services provided by your credit card?

  • To be able to use the insurance cover you must have paid (fully or partially) with your bank card. You will only be covered for the amount you paid with the card. For example, if you paid €100 of a €2,000 trip using your card, you will only be covered for €100.
  • To access assistance services: you simply need to have a valid card. Make sure you get in touch with the assistance services before you begin paying for anything.

What does your bank card cover?

What if you end up with medical expenses?

For entry-level cards, the reimbursement limit is far from enough in countries where healthcare costs are high. Bear in mind that a day’s hospitalization can cost up to €7,500 in North America, Asia or South Africa.

  • Visa and MasterCard upper limit: €11,000
  • Visa Premier and MasterCard Gold upper limit: €155,000

In addition, deductibles between €50 and €75 exist, which reduces your level of reimbursement

For example, with a MasterCard, if a consultation with a specialist costs €80, you will be reimbursed only €5 as there is a €75 deductible.

What if you cancel your trip?

  • With Visa and MasterCard: you are not covered.
  • With Visa Premier and MasterCard Gold: you are covered only in the event of a death in the family, serious damage to your home or redundancy. In all other cases cancellation insurance may not be used.

With both cards, €5,000 per year and per card is the reimbursement upper limit.

What if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged?

  • With Visa and MasterCard: you are not covered
  • With Visa Premier and MasterCard Gold: you are covered between €800 and €850 per event, with a €70 deductible only if the baggage was registered with an air or rail carrier.

What about personal liability ?

  • With Visa and MasterCard: you are not covered.
  • With Visa Premier card: you are covered up to €1,525,000.
  • With Gold MasterCard: you are covered up to €2,000 000.

Why take out international insurance?

With international insurance you have a much better cover level than with your bank card:

  • You are insured for over three months stays.
  • You have proper healthcare cover with high reimbursement limits (up to €2,000,000/year), lower deductibles or even no deductibles at all.
  • By taking out cancellation insurance, you are covered for a large number of travel cancellation scenarios and the upper limits are much higher.
  • With baggage insurance, you are covered for theft, loss or damage occurring throughout the outward or return leg of the journey or during the stay.
  • Liability cover will protect you in the event of damage caused to others.

To find out more on bank card insurance:

Before leaving, check what your bank card covers and what the exclusions are on Eurocard Mastercard and Visa websites.

Date of publication Nov 18 2015

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