Many of the best travel credit cards in Canada come with a comprehensive travel insurance package. Your travel medical insurance applies even if you book on points, but your additional travel insurance benefits such as lost luggage, trip cancellation, hotel burglary, etc. require you to charge a majority if not all of your charges to your card.

This is fine in most cases, but what happens if you’re redeeming a free flight/hotel/car rental through your points or miles? Does your additional travel insurance still apply?  Unfortunately, in most cases, it doesn’t but there are conditions where your travel insurance would apply if you have one of the following credit cards:

American Express Platinum Credit Card

The American Express Platinum credit card is my personal favourite travel credit card and now that I’ve read the fine print about their insurance when redeeming reward flights, I love this card even more.

If the cardholder is making a redemption via their American Express Membership Rewards Points and charge all the extra expenses such as taxes to their American Platinum card then they would be insured for the following:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation &Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Flight and Baggage Delay & Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance

To be clear, you would have to claim your travel through the American Express Membership Rewards travel portal for your travel insurance to apply.

Oddly enough, according to the American Express insurance handbook, you’d also be covered for the car rental theft and damage insurance under the following condition.

“A Cardmember is covered if they receive a “free rental” as a result of a promotion, where they have had to make previous vehicle rentals if each such previous rental was entirely paid for with the card and the applicable taxes for the “free rental” have been charged to the card.”

This means, as an example, that you would be covered if you use Hertz points to redeem a free car rental if all of your Hertz rentals to accumulate the points were charged on the Amex Platinum card.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

The BMO World Elite MasterCard distinguishes itself for award trip insurance since their coverage requires that the full or partial cost of your ticket has been charged to the account. This means that you would be covered if you redeem for an award flight using your BMO Rewards points or another program if you pay the fees and taxes with the BMO World Elite Mastercard.

This feature makes the BMO World Elite card a very popular card amongst the points and miles enthusiasts.

The BMO World Elite card offers the following insurance:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption Insurance & Trip Delay
  • Flight and Baggage Delay & Personal Effects
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Loss & Damage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) & Car Rental Personal Effects Insurance

You can read the full Cardholder Agreement here.

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Card

The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite card is similar to most cards and requires the full cost to be paid on the card for insurance to cover your trip. There is a minor difference for flight delay, trip cancellation and trip interruption for which 75% of the total cost is required. That means if you’re booking a flight through your Scotia Rewards points, you need to charge and/or redeem at least 75% of the cost of the flight for your travel insurance to apply.

  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
  • Travel Emergency Medical
  • Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Lost Luggage, Delayed Luggage and Hotel/Motel Burglary insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance

You can read all the details in the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Welcome Kit.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

Finally, there’s the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, similar to some of the other cards on this list, the following travel insurance applies as long as you charge any extra expenses such as taxes to your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card. 

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance
  • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

Based on this info, if you’re booking an Aeroplan flight and then you charge the taxes to your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, your travel insurance would apply. If you want to read more about the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card’s insurance, check out their user agreement.

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

Based on my research (which is simply me reading their policy), the following travel insurance policies would apply to the cardholders redeeming their RBC Rewards points as long as they charge any extra expenses to their RBC Avion Visa Infinite card

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Emergency Purchases and Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

As you can see, the travel insurance included when making a flight redemption is pretty much the same as the American Express Platinum card, RBC just has slightly different names for some of their insurance. The “free rental” provision for the auto rental collision/loss damage insurance also applies to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card.

RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard

Similar to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite for which the insurance coverage requires that you pay the full cost of trip and/or use RBC Rewards points, the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard insurance will only cover you if you charge the full cost of the trip and/or use Westjet dollars to pay for the trip.

The insurance offered by the card are the following:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Emergency Purchases and Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance

Full details the certificate of insurance.

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card’s coverage conditions vary for each insurance category which is a bit of a pain, but I’ve covered everything below to make your life easier.

Insurance eligible by being a cardholder:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance

Insurance eligible by putting a partial amount of the trip on the card:

  • Trip Interruption/Trip Delay Insurance

Insurance eligible up to the amount charged on the card:

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

Insurance eligible if Aventura points or 75% of flight full fate was charged on the card:

  • Common Carrier Accident Insurance
  • Flight Delay and baggage insurance

Insurance eligible if Aventura points or full cost was charged on the card:

  • Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

You can find the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Certificates of Insurances.

What happens if I don’t have one of those cards?

If you didn’t see your credit card in the above list, you might be panicking. It’s true that your credit card travel insurance wouldn’t apply, but all you need to do is buy a separate travel insurance policy so you’re protected.

I realize that many of you will find this annoying since you’re paying for something you already have, but technically speaking you don’t have travel insurance when making a travel redemption with your card since you haven’t met the conditions for it to come into effect.

Why risk paying thousands of dollars when a travel insurance package is not that expensive? You only need to purchase a policy when you’re making a flight redemption so you won’t be paying out of pocket too often.

Final thoughts

Travel insurance is important when picking a new credit card, but travel insurance included when making a flight redemption on points is less important if you know what I mean. What you should look for is a good signup bonus, earn rate and any additional benefits that appeal to you such as airport lounge access.