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Amex Platinum insurance pays up again (when it didn’t need to)

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Three years ago, I wrote an article about my experience claiming on the American Express Platinum card travel insurance.

Amex made some nasty changes to the insurance on the Platinum card in January 2012.  What was comprehensive, no-worries cover became a bit of a game, with flights and hotel required to have been paid on an Amex card in order to qualify for some of the smaller benefits.  The upper age limit also dropped from 80 to 70 which meant that my Mum’s supplementary card on my account was now useless.

(It is worth noting that Amex never changed the insurance on the Business Platinum charge card.  This has an identical annual fee and very similar benefits.  If you value the travel insurance benefits of Platinum and have your own business, you may want to consider switching to Business Platinum.)

Amex Platinum

Back in 2012, when we were in Barbados, our then 1-year old son vomited badly for a day and we had him seen by the resident hotel doctor.  We did not get this pre-approved by Axa (Amex’s insurance partner), which is a pre-condition for repayment.  I had deleted all my e-ticket receipts by the time I submitted the claim, and the claim itself was a scruffy receipt torn from a standard receipt book, available in any stationers, with B$450 written on it (c £150) and rubber stamped with the doctor’s name.

Not exactly great proof – all that I sent Amex was that receipt.  Amex paid in full.

When we were in Singapore in May, something similar happened.  Our now 4-year old son developed a temperature.  At the suggestion of our hotel, we headed down to (sic) Raffles Hospital.  This was a great deal – we got seen immediately and the cost of a consultation and a selection of medicines was just £85.

When we got back to London, my wife tried to claim the money from her corporate BUPA policy but that carried a high excess.  I then submitted a claim to Amex.  The whole claims process can now be done online – it took about 10 minutes to fill in the form and I attached a photograph of our receipt taken on my iPhone.

Again, Amex would have been perfectly within their rights to deny my claim because we had not sought pre-authorisation and we had not used one of their recommended hospitals.

Instead, I got an email yesterday saying that my claim will be paid in full.  There are no excesses with Amex’s coverage so I receive the full £85.  It took 8-9 working days to receive this email from the day I submitted the claim.

My history with Amex insurance is not unique.  I can’t remember ever hearing of someone who was given a hard time by them over a claim. (EDIT: looking at some of the comments below, I may have been too hasty in saying that!) I don’t know if they behave differently if you buy stand-alone travel insurance from them, but for Platinum charge card holders it is a decent benefit.

Comments (69)

  • Bruce says:

    Amex are pretty unique: their customer service is excellent!

  • Kathy H says:

    I had an absolutely horrendous time with Amex Insurance in Jan 2011 – scenario was first day of 6 week holiday in NZ I fell off a kerb at Christchurch airport car pick up breaking tibia, fibia and ankle which meant a 10 day stay in hospital and a four hour operation. Amex were informed at the earliest opportunity and their first answer to my husband was for him to continue the holiday and leave me alone in Christchurch – the obvious thing to do 10000 miles from home. BA when contacted said they interpreted their fare rules and I could fly home when the doctors allowed and we only found out they changed their minds by looking at MMB so we had to stay in NZ for the full holiday period and just before I left Christchurch suffered the horrendous earthquake – we also were told by Amex that we had to stick tour original stopover in Bangkok for 3 days(perfect in a wheelchair).

    On return home we submitted our insurance claim which was not excessive – I cannot remember the exact amount now – Amex only offered less than one quarter stating that we had completed our holiday!!!!! To cut a long story short it went to the Ombudsman eventually taking three years to finally be sorted and even the gentleman who looked after my case said it should never have got to that stage as it was one of the clearest genuine claims he had ever seen.

    On the bright side I made some brand new friendships with some lovely people in NZ and still keep in touch with them.

  • Jon says:

    I wonder whether Amex can afford to be so generous because, now that the Platinum benefits have become, let’s face it, pretty slim, we’re effectively paying £400 or so a year for an insurance policy that (depending on your circumstances) could probably be bought separately for maybe £100 or so. Perhaps we should really be thinking of Platinum as an insurance policy with a ‘free’ charge card attached? 😉

    • Rob says:

      …. which is fair enough!

      I still get my BAPP free because I had a Plat card in 2002 so the net cost to me is only £300.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Dropped an iPhone on the hard floor of T5 when transferring flights, using phone as a boarding card. Screen shattered, got Apple shop to do the repair in Amsterdam and submitted the claim to AXA after the event via online form. They approved the claim with a £50 excess Which is applicable for damaged/ lost property in such cases.

  • Maciek says:

    I’ve reported yesterday on FT (http://bit.ly/1K6Blhe) that AmEx is giving contradictory information regarding Platinum insurance benefits for travel paid with a different than Platinum AmEx.

    Long story short, I was happily spending on my BA Premium card, being absolutely sure that Platinum insurance extends to the travel booked on the BA card. The most recent communication with AmEx says it does not. There was no change to T&C however as far as I can tell, so it’s all really confusing…

    • Carlbob says:

      Hmm, all very timely this as I have been wondering what the position is myself. Currently contemplating whether or not to keep my Plat card of 5 years or whether to downgrade, and the uncertainty over what is and isn’t covered is part of the dilemma.

      As well as the “other Amex” example, I am curious as to the position where it’s not possible to pay with Amex for flights/hotel as not accepted (admittedly relatively rare as this is one sector where it’s pretty universal), and also where a trip is booked/organised by someone else entirely – not uncommon, eg for group skiing or birthday trips where somebody pays. Sounds like one needs to get separate cover in those scenarios?

      Which also leads me to- is there a “good” insurer out there? Comprehensive cover, generally good record of paying up, easy to claim? Google for Travel Insurance reviews and it’s nearly always tales of woe!

      • Rob says:

        This is how I see it: I couldn’t give a monkeys about whether I get £200 for a delayed flight etc. If it ever happened and I had paid on my Amex, fine. If not, I won’t care.

        I am, obviously, concerned about the medical coverage – and you get that however you pay for your flight or hotel. Similarly, the car hire damage waiver does not require Amex payment. I am therefore happy to stick with the Plat cover.

        • Carlbob says:

          I definitely see that perspective, which is why I’ve stuck with Plat depsite the changes. There is a part of me that wonders whether or not one could get the best of both worlds though, i.e. as decent cover, without having to worry about whether one book on the Amex or not…

          NatWest Black account offers (what appears to be) a comprehensive worldwide travel policy, plus Priority Pass (and a bunch of other things) for half the annual price, for instance.

        • The_Real_A says:

          Thanks Raffles – i had always used PLAT to secure car hire benefits.

          (Although i must say id prefer AMEX service in the event of disputing phantom damage claims.)

        • Philip White says:

          Really useful comment. Quite often when I’m booking car hire it is €… So I pay with Amex Green Euro card. I always forget to check if I’m still covered by the Platinum.
          Between the Car Hire cover, Carlson, SPG & ACCOR status upgrades, the Priority Pass and Cash Back offers I find the Amex really good value.
          Thats before I even consider the Concierge service which has done me proud with restaurant reservations in Edinburgh, Rome, Paris and Salzburg.

        • Mike says:

          Agree that if there is a delay vs a medical emergency, the medical emergency is of more importance.

          HOWEVER, if Amex/AXA are stating that one is entitled to claim for a delay, then they should honour it (providing the claimant is providing whatever documents they need). Cardholders should not be in a situation where they feel “oh, it’s only GBP 200, it’s ok if I don’t get it”.

      • Alan says:

        The T&Cs seem pretty clear re. being able to use non-Amex card when the provider doesn’t accept Amex, however I agree it would be good to have more clarity re. what to do when a friend is booking and you’re reimbursing them!

        • Alan says:

          Sigh – sadly seems like classic Amex on the T&Cs front, internally inconsistent! Given one part supports our view I think you’d be in a good position though, they were also pretty clear about non-Amex-accepting merchants not being an issue at the time they made the change.

          For now I’ve still for the ICC Dollar card which doesn’t have the same limitations re. either age for medical cover or using an Amex.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    ROB, don’t you think in your case, the amounts were relatively small, and the cost of a decline (possible disputes / ombudsman etc), possibly mean all reasonable claims of low value would be settled?

    • Rob says:

      Very possibly.

      Although, ironically. Amex UK has just declined a claim for roughly £100 due to loss I suffered due to its negligence, even though I told thm I would go to FOS which is an immediate £500 fine whether or not the claim is upheld!

      This is the 3rd claim I have made without proper documentation, though. Apart from Singapore and Barabados, I also had a doctors bill from Florence about 9 years ago. Again, no pre-approval sought. Again, paid in full.

      Worth noting, too, that the BUPA policy we have – which is about £3k per year if we paid for it, and we still pay 60 per cent of that in tax as it is a work benefit for my wife – refused to pay up the £86 due to their excess rules.

      • Jon says:

        Just seen this comment – similar to my post. But I had a nightmare trying to claim around £200 for a Eurostar ticket due to illness and I provided a doctor’s note confirming not able to travel.

        I would NEVER advise anyone to rely on Axa paying out – both insurance or private health cover and in fact I have moved all my policies away from them on the basis of experiences.

  • Concerto says:

    Well I have a free AMEX in Germany, the Payback American Express card, and I bought their travel insurance which costs €234 for a year. It seems pretty good for what it offers (medical, baggage, missed connections, the usual things) but I haven’t had any claim so far. Was even thinking of dropping it.

  • Barry Stanley says:

    I dropped Amex insurance when I found that a flight “cancellation” (by the airline) didn’t qualify for any compensation (and of course there were follow-on flights and hotel reservations that could not be changed), where as a “delay” would have triggered some compensation. Weird as surely a cancellation is worse than a delay.

    Also found the terms regarding the necessity to book with an Amex card either missing or contradictory and I couldn’t get the customer service staff to email me with a written confirmation that Amex card was not needed.

    So I use significantly cheaper travel insurance that is still highly rated with Defaqto.