The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve offer some of the best benefits in the credit card travel insurance game today. Both Chase Sapphire cards offer a variety of well-known, and well-loved, benefits like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, delayed luggage reimbursement and rental car protection. The Chase Sapphire reserve goes a step further with protections like emergency medical and dental insurance and travel accident insurance that we’ll focus on.

But unless you’re reading the fine print, how do you know if it’s any good? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about who is covered, what is covered and most importantly, what’s not covered. Before we jump in, there are few topics as boring as credit card travel insurance, so try to stay with me as we dive into the only subject with a lower rating on Rotten Tomatoes than Paint Drying: The Sequel.

Who is covered?

Knowing who is covered in the event of an issue during travel is critical. The Chase Sapphire cards both cover the cardmember and immediate family (spouses and children). That means that even if the cardholder’s family member is not an authorized user, they are still covered if the trip was booked on the credit card. Even better? If you, as the cardmember, book a flight for your spouse, your spouse is fully covered during their trip without you.

What is covered?

The coverages for both the Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred are similar when looking at the trip interruption and baggage benefits. However, the key differences between the Reserve and Preferred arise when we talk about medical evacuation and emergency medical and dental.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • ​​Baggage delay: Up to $100 reimbursed per day, for up to five days, if your baggage is delayed more than six hours.
  • Lost or damaged baggage: $3,000 per passenger, however, only $500 per passenger for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket if you’re delayed more than six hours or require an overnight stay.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip, for prepaid non-refundable travel expenses.
  • Emergency medical and dental benefit: Up to $2,500 for medical expenses when on a trip more than 100 miles from home.
  • Medical evacuation benefit: Up to $100,000 for medical services and transportation in the case of emergency evacuation, when on a trip of five to 60 days, and traveling more than 100 miles from home.
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $1,000,000 for Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance or $100,000 for 24 Hour Travel Accident Insurance.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Baggage delay: Up to $100 reimbursed per day for up to five days if your baggage is delayed more than six hours.
  • Lost or damaged baggage: $3,000 per passenger, however, only $500 per passenger for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or require an overnight stay.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection: Up to $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses.
  • Emergency medical and dental benefit: Not available.
  • Medical evacuation benefit: Not available.
  • Travel accident insurance: Not available.

The key differentiator is the medical benefits

While there are a few differences when looking at specific coverage value or terms, the key differentiator is the medical benefits. If you are banking on being protected while abroad, it is critical to understand your protections. The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not offer the emergency medical and dental nor the medical evacuation and accident insurance.

The emergency medical and dental benefit is something that you don’t find on many credit cards, other than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. While more comprehensive coverages exist that you can purchase through a third party insurance company, Chase includes up to $2,500 for emergency medical or dental services during a covered trip, and up to $75 per day, for up to five days at a hotel if required. This comes with a $50 deductible and includes emergency medical and dental services, hospital room, ambulance, medicines, and supplies. Specifically, this coverage only applies to trips 100+ miles away from your home billing address, which will easily apply to most travel. However, the only caveat here is the emphasis on “emergency.” Your medical issue must be deemed an emergency by licensed medical personnel, and state that you are unable to wait until you arrive home to address the issue.

You still with me?

The medical evacuation benefit is another bonus that you won’t find on many cards. If you or a family member finds themselves needing a medical evacuation, the benefit may provide up to $100,000 in coverage. The fine print here is that the covered trip must be at least five days in length, but not more than 60 days, and you must be more than 100 miles from home.

But there’s an important catch

This particular coverage is not a reimbursement. So, that means you must call the travel benefits hotline to initiate the transport and it must be approved by a licensed medical expert in your location. Basically, if you get stranded on the side of Annapurna, on that Nepalese trek you’re crossing off your bucket list, your first call is going to be to a Chase’s 1-800 number. Food for thought.

Lastly, is travel accident insurance, and while I hope you will never need to experience it, knowledge is power and it’s important to be aware of your coverage. If you or a covered traveler dies or dismemberment occurs on a common carrier, the card provides up to $1,000,000 in coverage. It’s important to keep in mind that this benefit only applies if you are in an accident with a “common carrier”, which is defined as a motorized vehicle (plane, train, car for hire, boat for hire or courtesy transfers to and from airports/ports) during your covered trip. That does not include rental vehicles.

What is not covered?

Now, onto the most important part of any trip: knowing what is not covered under these credit card travel insurance policies.

The most important thing to remember is that these insurance policies are meant to be secondary to any primary coverage. This means that you will only receive the excess dollar amount beyond what the airline or insurance policies give you.

Let’s take an example

Your flight is canceled and the next flight out isn’t until the morning. The airline gives you a hotel room and a $12 meal stipend for the night. However, because you miss the first night on your vacation, you are still paying for that hotel room at your destination. Because of your flight delay you are losing out on the hotel room cost, let’s say $300. On top of that, you spent $50 on food, not $12. When you file a claim for the trip interruption benefit, you will receive what you prepaid (that $300 hotel room) plus your food cost ($50), minus the $12 stipend the airline provided.

The same applies for medical insurance. You will receive the excess beyond what your primary coverage supplies if you had additional expenses. It’s also critical to keep in mind that not all events will be covered. Common exclusions to all of these policies involve medical issues while engaging in extreme sports, travel to “unsafe” countries such as Afghanistan, medical issues due to preexisting conditions and pregnancy, and weekend trips of less than five days or extended trips of 60+ days.

The importance of documentation

Lastly, documentation is often the make or break when it comes to reimbursement. While the medical evacuation must be done at the time of incident, most of the benefits are reimbursements. This means the burden falls squarely on you to provide everything you need, and more, to get the claim through quickly.

I have personally used a few of the personal goods protections, like the return protection and purchase protection, and I can tell you how ridiculously hard it actually is to get the money back. You might think a receipt is enough, but unless you overshare and provide receipts, images, bank statements and more, the claim is often denied at first based on “lack of evidence”. Documentation, when it comes to any of the travel and medical claims, is even more important.

Here’s my advice: keep everything and file a claim. And I mean it — receipts for food, receipts for purchases, hotel reservations, itineraries, and flight receipts. Get everything into the claim system as soon as possible. Don’t question if you have provided too much information, in this case, more is better.

How does Chase stack up against its competitors?

The Chase portfolio does have excellent benefits overall, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve is going to most closely align to the American Express Platinum travel benefits. However, it’s important to note that AmEx does not offer the medical or dental emergency coverage, nor do they offer travel accident insurance, therefore, putting it more in the category of the Preferred card. They do, however, provide the evacuation benefit and the standard travel benefits like trip delay, trip cancellation and auto rental protections. Before you book your next trip, be sure to confirm the benefits you have access to based on the card you pay for your trip with.

What’s the verdict?

The credit card travel insurance provided by Chase Sapphire Reserve is going above and beyond what you will find with many of its competitors. While it’s a huge weight off to know that there are a number of benefits that cover you while traveling, it’s also important to know those limits. There are a number of travel insurance companies, like HTH Insurance, that cover virtually any travel issues or cancellations with a comprehensive policy if you’re looking for 100% protection, even if it’s at a high price tag.

For the normal vacationer, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is going to provide the most comprehensive option of credit card travel insurance and can provide great relief when things go wrong. Just remember, read the fine print, document everything and file your claims quickly.