Westpac Platinum credit card travel insurance reviewed

By danwarne, December 5 2010

How it compares:

Out of the credit card travel insurance offers we compared (NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, St George, ANZ and American Express), Westpac's platinum card travel insurance policy was good in some areas but with some serious limitations.

Its strengths include excellent rental car excess reimbursement cover ($5000) and good claiming maximums for personal property theft or damage. However, it bizarrely doesn't cover items you lose -- which seems like a major problem for a travel insurance policy. There are some other things the policy leaves out that are present in other banks' credit card insurance, too, like coverage for lost income due to injury on a trip, and coverage for missed travel connections.

Like all credit card travel insurance, trips you make are not automatically covered all year round -- you have to buy your return overseas travel tickets entirely on the card to qualify.

Who's covered:

The cardholder, their spouse and dependent children for overseas trips of six consecutive months from and returning to Australia (plus another month if you are delayed beyond your control).

Good or bad? Average for platinum credit card travel insurance -- it's good that a month's grace period is available if you're delayed beyond your control though. Only Commonwealth Bank Platinum is better with its coverage of trips up to 12 months long.

When the policy kicks in:

In order for the insurance cover to be activated, 100% of the cost of your return international travel ticket must be purchased on the Westpac Platinum credit card (or paid for with Westpac reward points).

Good or bad? Bad -- this counts out paying a cash deposit or paying for an airline ticket by BPAY. Other banks generally have easier-to-qualify travel insurance policies. ANZ Platinum cards, for example, cover you after you've spent $250 of trip (travel/accommodation/hire car/tour) costs on the card. Westpac's policy pretty much ensures it can only ever be used for personal travel, because it can't cover trips where the travel is paid for by someone else.

Excesses:

If you run into trouble on your trip, and need to use the policy, you'll have to pay the first $200 of claims. You don't have to pay an excess for replacement of your travel documents, credit cards, travellers cheques or a small amount of emergency clothes and toiletries if your luggage is lost, though.

Good or bad? Average for a credit card travel insurance policy.

Medical coverage:

Unlimited "reasonable" medical treatment. Cash in hospital reimbursement of expenses up to $100 per day (up to a maximum of $12,000.) Emergency dental treatment to relieve urgent pain only up to $1,250.

Good or bad? Good -- Westpac's insurer does say medical care must be "reasonable" but defines that as equivalent to the standard of care you'd get in Australia, which clarifies things well. The dental treatment limit is on the low side compared to other credit card travel insurance policies, though. The cash in hospital daily amount and maximum is good - the only better card we reviewed was NAB Platinum, which offered up to $15,000 cash in hospital at $100 per day.

Pre-existing medical problems:

The insurer that provides this policy, Zurich, says it will consider applications for pre-existing medical condition coverage if you contact them before departing on your trip and pay an assessment fee (plus extra premium if required).

Good or bad? Average -- most credit card travel insurances offer to consider your pre-existing medical conditions on application. The only better card we reviewed was ANZ's Platinum card, which automatically covered a list of pre-existing medical conditions.

Income protection:

This policy does not pay loss of income benefits for people who are injured during an accident overseas.

Good or bad? Bad. Most credit card travel insurances that we looked at offered it.

Death while travelling:

The policy provides $500,000 for the death of a cardholder, spouse or dependent child in a transport accident.

Good or bad? Average for a platinum card, and it's good that the same pay-out applies for children, as many insurers only pay out a fraction for the death of a child. However, though Westpac's insurer pays $500,000 if the cardholder dies in a transport accident, the policy says that if there are numerous Westpac cardholders or their family killed in the same accident, the most it will pay in total for everyone is $1.3million, which means the insurance is good for a bus or taxi crash, but possibly not so good for plane crashes.

Accidental death:

Accidental death (not related to a transport accident, up to 12 months after some other sort of related accident) are $17,500 for the cardholder, $12,500 for a spouse. There is no cover for a dependent child.

Good or bad? Bad -- among the lowest accidental death benefits of any of the credit card travel insurances we looked at, except American Express Platinum Edge, which only covers death due to a transport accident.

Theft/loss/damage:

Up to $20,000 for cardholder and a maximum of $30,000 for all family members combined. Sub-limits of $3,500 for any one item, or $5,500 for a laptop and all its accessories. Up to $550 cash is covered, with a total of $1,250 for the whole family. Up to $550 per person in emergency clothing & toiletries if your baggage is lost (max $1,250 for a family.) A maximum of $2,500 worth of items left in a locked car are covered. However, the policy excludes items "left behind, forgotten, or misplaced", which basically counts out anything you lose -- a very significant exclusion.

Good or bad? Bad - although the maximum dollar limits are good for a platinum card, the exclusion of lost items is ridiculous for a travel insurance policy. On the other hand, it's good that items left in a locked car are covered, as well as some cash.

Rental cars:

$5,000 while overseas.

Good or bad? Excellent -- Westpac is the clear standout here, with no onerous conditions on the rental car cover, and a benefit that will cover most rental car excesses.

Travel delays:

After 6 hours' delay, the insurance will pay out up to $500 per person in expense reimbursements, to a total maximum of $1000. There is no coverage for missed connections, though.

Good or bad? Average for a platinum card -- however it's not good that there is no coverage for missed connections. In comparison, NAB's platinum card provides $3,250 worth of cover for missed connections.

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 item items "left behind, forgotten, or misplaced". If you ignore warnings from government, official bodies or news reports. Items left in a car overnight or in view. Items used for a business purchase or owned by a business. Putting yourself in danger. Alcohol or drug influence. Any professional sport; most adventure sports. Any clothes being laundered. You not taking "adequate precautions" at any time. Computer software or non-tangible items; cash; any second-hand item.

Good or bad? Bad - the exclusion for items "left behind, forgotten, or misplaced" is ridiculous -- losing stuff while travelling is one of the key reasons for having travel insurance.

Westpac's platinum credit cards with travel insurance:

  • Westpac 55 Day Platinum Visa
    annual fee $130.00 (waived in first year), interest rate 19.59% purchases / 21.49% cash advances
  • Westpac Altitude Platinum Card
    annual fee $295.00, interest rate 19.99% purchases / 21.59% cash advances
  • Westpac Earth Platinum Credit Card
    annual fee $250.00, interest rate 19.99% purchases / 21.49% cash advances
  • Singapore Airlines Westpac Platinum Credit Card
    annual fee $250.00 ($125 first year), interest rate 19.49% purchases / 20.74% cash advances

Westpac's website about platinum credit card travel insurance:

http://info.westpac.com.au/platinum/insurance.cfm

Full Westpac Platinum Credit Card travel insurance policy PDS document:

http://www.westpac.com.au/docs/pdf/pb/TCs-platinuminsurance.pdf

This article was written based on the product disclosure statement available on the Westpac'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.


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