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A Bit Rubbish Insurance

Travel Insurance

As with many things in life, we often wait until something happens before we actually find out that what we thought existed, didn't. So it is with travel insurance which is attached to many credit cards. More recently, any (travel) insurance element has been rather soft-pedaled and what is left, is really nothing more than enough to warrant someone from the card provider muttering "travel insurance" under their breath whilst extolling the virtues of their card.

I am not talking about insurance in the sense of a refund for a failed-flight ticket purchase - that is another matter; what is under consideration, here, is the "general" insurance offered with some cards. I should add that there is nothing actually wrong with what is offered, it is that it simply amounts to very little of any value and certainly not enough to warrant the "my credit card comes with travel insurance" reason given by some either to avoid having to buy proper travel insurance and (of more concern) in the belief that the statement may be true.

In this instance, I had to look through the "insurance" offered with the British Airways branded cards, backed by AMEX. There are two cards, the basic one, which gives you 5,000 Avios AFTER you spend £1,000 on it and a premium version which offers 25,000 Avios AFTER you spend £3,000 on it and don't mind paying an annual fee of £195.00 (so basically, you pay for the AVIOS).

What are you offered? Both cards offer the same "insurance", save with differing amounts. You get purchase protection; but not for anything electrical. So, if you buy a new smartphone and it is stolen, sorry... it's electrical. Second hand items are excluded, so if you bought another bike from a shop and it's second hand - sorry. There is a £50 limit so really, just about the only thing that this may be useful for, is if you bought your partner a lovely expensive coat - as long as you did not leave it in your hotel room, of course, because then it would have been out of your reach, so not covered. (unless you locked it in the hotel safe - but even that is a grey area)

There is a refund protection, if a retailer for some reason does not wish to comply with his or her statutory obligations. This does not include perishable goods, antiques or "tickets" - which means that if that £200 plus rail ticket goes astray - Sorry.

There is some cover for travel and baggage delay - but not for any delay where the operator has offered an alternative - note the word "offered" - the alternative may be totally unsuitable, of course... but sorry, an alternative was offered. As to baggage delay. this does not apply on the final leg of any trip, so one can forsee a few issues where getting from A to B involved C and D. Of course, to be covered, you need to have made the purchase using the card (that last bit is fair enough).

Then there is "travel accident" - this, to my mind is the most difficult to grasp. I won't say "misleading" as that has certain connotations - though it could innocently mean that people think they are covered in the event of accident, in some medical sense. The cover is a lump sum payment in the case of death or loss of limb, hearing, speech or sight. The interesting fine print, here is that it only covers a "public vehicle" - that is, not one you hired for your own use... so a taxi is out. Again, you have to use your card so unless you somehow managed to use your card for a journey on the number 36 bus to Clapham Junction, this bit is also of little value. It does cover aircraft and trains and getting in and out or two and from such as long as it is a "covered trip", the meaning of which is unclear. If you are hijacked, then you do get £1,500 after 24 hours. Again, on a public vehicle.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with what is offered; it just doesn't actually "do" very much of any use.

AMEX offer an annual family insurance which cover 2 Adults, 2 Children worldwide (everywhere) including winter sports and business travel, with a maximum trip length of 45 days and a total of 183 days per year and with £5,000 a head cancellation cover for £418 if the oldest person is up to 69 years young - or if the oldest person is up to 59 years young, then that cost is £177. If you are blessed with youth, then you could be looking at a mere £115. There is no excuse not to have a good "cooking" travel policy, reliance on giveaway or seemingly free or "included" travel insurance is never a good idea.

By the way, I do not sell travel insurance and am not a travel insurance adviser. I do travel and make my own judgement and in case you are interested, yes, I do have an AMEX annual travel policy. As they say, to my mind, "That will do nicely".

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