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How it compares:
Out of the credit card travel insurance offers we compared (NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, St George, ANZ and American Express), CBA's was average in most areas, excellent in covering trips up to 12 months long, excellent in claim limits for lost/stolen/damaged items, good in income protection and death of cardholder benefits. It's bad if you're travelling with family members who have pre-existing medical conditions, and bad compared to other platinum cards if you're planning to hire a car while overseas.
However, not all travel is covered: you have to pay for 90% of each traveller's overseas airline ticket, or $950 per traveller -- whichever is higher with the card. There is also no possibility of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions of travellers except for the cardholder.
The cardholder, their spouse and dependent children for overseas trips up to 12 months' duration each year -- the most comprehensive policy we saw. There is also limited domestic travel insurance.
Good or bad? Excellent -- annual travel insurance policies can be costly. A stand-alone annual frequent flyer travel insurance policy from Travel Insurance Direct (by way of comparison) is $354, and you would get lower benefits in some areas.
When the policy kicks in:
In order for the insurance cover to be activated, $950 of airline tickets for each traveller, or 90% of each traveller's return airline ticket must be paid for on the card. Flights booked on Commonwealth Awards points are also covered (not flights booked through Qantas Frequent Flyer though, if you have chosen to transfer points to Qantas.)
Good or bad? It's average -- at least CBA doesn’t require you to put your entire trip cost on the card to qualify, like NAB Platinum, Westpac Gold & Altitude Platinum, and American Express Platinum Edge card. This leaves a bit of flexibility for leaving cash deposits, or paying for bus/ferry tickets with cash.
If you run into trouble on your trip, and need to use the policy, you'll have to pay $250 per claim type (reduced to $150 for some types of claim, and there's no excess if you need replacement of travel documents, credit cards, travellers cheques, or the emergency replacement of your clothes and toiletries due to delayed baggage.)
Good or bad? It's a bit more than charged by other credit card insurances, which are generally $200 per claim type. Some are much better though -- Westpac Altitude Platinum and St George Platinum only charge one $200 excess per "event" which can include multiple claim types. An independent travel insurance policy from Travel Insurance Direct would only charge $100 per claim, and it would only cost you $25 at the time of purchasing the policy to remove the excess entirely (though excess buyout options are often not available for annual travel insurance policies).
Unlimited, and there's a cash-in-hospital allowance of $100 per day, up to a maximum of $10,000. Emergency dental treatment -- to relieve urgent pain only -- is covered up to $1,500.
Good or bad? It's average for platinum cards. NAB Platinum cards offer a higher $15,000 total limit for cash in hospital, while Westpac and St George Platinum offer $12,000, but CBA still covers you for 100 days -- over three months in hospital -- which is going to cover the vast majority of cases.
Pre-existing medical problems:
If the cardholder has pre-existing medical conditions, they can call the CBA's insurer, Zurich, to apply for coverage. However, family members travelling with the cardholder will never be eligible for pre-existing medical condition coverage -- an important exclusion in this policy.
Good or bad? If the cardholder is the only one travelling, it's average. However in terms of family coverage it's bad -- most credit card travel insurance will consider applications for coverage for pre-existing medical conditions of family travelling with you.
This policy also pays loss of income benefits if you get sick overseas, of up to $750 per person per week for up to three months, to a total maximum of $7,500. That's not going to replace most people's salary, given four weeks of $750 is equivalent to a salary of $36,000 per annum, but it will certainly help with bills.
Good or bad? Good - some credit cards like Westpac and American Express Platinum Edge don't offer it at all. NAB Gold Cards pay a higher benefit of $1,000 per week for up to 90 days, but will make you wait 30 days before they start paying.
Death while travelling:
It's the most generous policy we looked at in terms of death of the cardholder due to a transport accident -- it pays out $1,000,000 to the cardholder's estate. However, death of a spouse in a transport accident only qualifies for $150,000. Other benefits range down to $250,000 for the loss of the cardholder's eye/hand/foot.
Good or bad? Good - it's the best we looked at for benefits to the cardholder, however ANZ Platinum cards offer better overall coverage, offering $750,000 for death of the cardholder or spouse.
Accidental death (not related to a transport accident, up to 12 months after some other sort of related accident) are $50,000 for the cardholder and $25,000 for their spouse, and $5,000 for a dependent child.
Good or bad? Good -- only NAB tops it with $100,000 for accidental death of a gold cardholder or $150,000 for death of platinum cardholders.
Commonwealth Bank Platinum Card Travel Insurance will pay out up to $30,000 in total for a whole family for property loss or damage while travelling, or up to $15,000 per person. Per item limits apply, though; $5,000 for baggage/clothing, $5,000 for electrical equipment, $5,000 for cameras, $5,000 for laptops, $500 per person for travel documents and cash to a maximum of $1,000.
Good or bad? Excellent. The highest claim limit of all the cards we looked at, both on a per-person basis and in total. Generous per-item limits too.
As long as you take out comprehensive insurance when you rent a car (which is a standard part of the price usually), the policy will cover you for rental car insurance excesses (if you damage the car) of up to $2,250.
Good or bad? Bad for a platinum card - Westpac Gold and Altitude Platinum cards offer excess reimbursement of $5,000 and $5,500 respectively. On the other hand, it's better than the $2,000 offered by ANZ Platinum or NAB's severely limited car excess policy which dictates what class of car you must drive.
After 6 hours delay, the insurance will pay out up to $250 per person, to a total maximum of $500. Each additional 12 hour block, you get up to $150 per cardholder or $300 if they're travelling with family. There is no coverage for expenses due to missed connections.
Good or bad? Bad for a platinum card. Other cards like ANZ Platinum and Westpac Altitude Platinum provide twice as much -- $500 per person to a maximum of $1000 after a six hour delay, while ANZ Platinum and NAB Gold/Platinum also offer coverage for costs associated with missed connections too.
Toll free number:
You can call the insurer reverse charges from anywhere in the world, so you won't have to pay for international phone calls, in case of emergency while overseas.
Good or bad? Good.
What they don't cover:
You need to read the whole policy to see everything that's not covered, but some things that particularly stood out to us were: Any fragile item (except cameras); any item purchased in a business name; any valuables in baggage like jewellery, watches, cameras, mobiles, laptops or other electrical items, any loss of property that cannot be explained to Zurich's satisfaction; anything related to you being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; clothing while being laundered; any travel provider going out of business; any injury while playing sport or many adventure activities; injury while on a motorbike more powerful than 200cc; any damage caused by flooding; any lost/stolen item you didn't file a police report for; any item you don't have a purchase receipt for.
Good or bad? All insurance has a lot of exclusions. The key is to read up on them before leaving on your trip, and plan around them. The one that worries us in this policy is "any loss of property that cannot be explained to Zurich's satisfaction" which leaves an awful lot of wiggle-room for the insurer to get out of paying up.
CBA's platinum credit cards with travel insurance:
- Commonwealth Bank Platinum Awards Card
annual fee $280, interest rate 20.74% purchases / 21.74% cash advances
CBA's website about platinum credit card travel insurance:
Full Commonwealth Bank Platinum Credit Card travel insurance policy PDS document:
This article was written based on the product disclosure statement available on the Commonwealth Bank's website on 1st December, 2010. Insurers can change the wording of policies they are selling at any time, so be sure to read the product disclosure statement yourself before signing up. Additionally, this article should not be taken as formal financial advice. You should consult a qualified financial planner.