AMEX Trip Cancellation Insurance: Chase Sapphire Still Better

AMEX Trip Cancellation Insurance: Chase Sapphire Still Better
AMEX Travel Insurance Starts 1/1/20, But Chase Sapphire Coverage is Still Better

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AMEX Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance Will Be Added to the AMEX Platinum, AMEX Business Platinum, and a few other premium AMEX cards that have annual fees of $450 or more, effective January 1, 2020. But spoiler alert: if you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I wouldn't bother signing up for a premium AMEX card unless you were planning to anyway, say for the signup bonus, since the AMEX travel insurance coverage isn't as good as the Chase Sapphire's.

AMEX Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Sample Policies

While travel insurance coverage won't take effect until January 1, 2020, AMEX has released sample travel insurance policies for the cards that will offer trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance:

  • AMEX Centurion
  • AMEX Business Centurion
  • AMEX Platinum (including Ameriprise, Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley versions)
  • AMEX Business Platinum
  • Delta Reserve
  • Delta Reserve for Business
  • Hilton Honors Aspire
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

3 Ways AMEX Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance Isn't as Good as Chase Sapphire's

There are several ways that the new AMEX travel insurance isn't as good as the Chase Sapphire's:

1. AMEX Covers Fewer Family Members

When traveling, the sample AMEX policy covers “you, and your Family Members and Traveling Companions who purchase a Covered Trip to your Covered Card.” That doesn't sound so different from Chase, which states that “Trip Cancellation insurance reimburses you or your Immediate Family Member” and includes coverage for an injury, loss of life or sickness of “you, a Traveling Companion, or an Immediate Family Member of you or a Traveling Companion.” But it's important to look to how AMEX and Chase define “Family Member” in their respective policies.

AMEX defines a Family Member as: “a Spouse, Domestic Partner, or unmarried dependent child up to age 19 (or under age 26 if a full-time student at an accredited college or university).

Chase defines an Immediate Family Member as “your or your Spouse's or Domestic Partner's children, including adopted children or stepchildren, legal guardians or wards, siblings or siblings-in-law, parents or parents-in-law, grandparents or grandchildren, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephew.” That's many more people than AMEX's definition, and it doesn't even set an age limit for children.

2. AMEX Only Covers You if the Entire Trip is Billed to Your AMEX Card

AMEX's sample policy states that to be covered: “You must charge the full amount of a Covered Trip to your Covered Card or in combination with your Covered Card and accumulated points on your Eligible Account or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program.”

Chase, in contrast, states “Covered Trip means any pre-paid tour, trip or vacation when some portion of the cost for such travel arrangements less any redeemable frequent flyer miles, points coupons or certificates, or other types of redeemable Rewards has been charged to your Account.” In theory you could just pay a dollar of your trip with your Chase card and be covered, although I don't recommend putting so little on your Chase Sapphire Reserve if it's the main travel insurance you're relying on.

3. AMEX's Trip Cancellation Coverage is Half the Value of Chase's

AMEX seems quite stingy when it comes to these trip cancellation and trip insurance coverage amounts: the maximum it will reimburse is $10,000 per covered trip, and $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period.

Chase will reimburse up to $10,000 per covered person and up to $20,000 per covered trip, up to $40,000 per twelve month period. Frankly, if AMEX is aiming at the premium market, I would have expected similar amounts, if not more. Many of my clients' cruises can be ~$10,000 or more per person (so $20,000+ for a couple) for the cruise portion alone, and that doesn't include pre or post hotel stays and airfare, if purchased rather than an award ticket. With AMEX, only half or less of that type of trip would be covered, whereas Chase would cover twice as much and closer to the full amount.

So far, the sample travel insurance policy terms AMEX has provided are the same for all of its cards that would receive coverage, so even AMEX Centurion cardholders wouldn't do as well with AMEX's trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, as outlined above, than with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

What do you think of AMEX's new trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance?

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