American Express says their travel insurance will cover Platinum cardholders for coronavirus

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

There was some discussion in our comments yesterday about insurance coverage for the coronavirus outbreak.

A reader had contacted American Express Platinum and been told that, basically, he was stuffed.  Amex said that they would refuse to pay out if he travelled and fell ill but would also refuse to pay out if he cancelled.

I took a look at a different insurance policy I hold.  It includes this line, which I thought was standard across all travel insurance policies:

Cancellation and curtailment/loss of holiday

If beneficiaries are forced to:

a)  cancel their trip as a direct and necessary result of any cause listed below: [snip]

(vi)  The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the equivalent government authority in the beneficiary’s country of residence advising against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ to the beneficiary’s intended destination. 

(vi) is, of course, where we are now with coronavirus, with the Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel.

American Express Platinum insurance for coronavirus

I had a look at the Amex Platinum insurance document (download it here) and in theory it backs up what the reader was told by the call centre.  I also asked a barrister friend to take a look and he confirmed my interpretation.  With Amex Platinum insurance there appears to be no option which allows you to cancel if the Foreign Office says you should not go.  You need to look at Section 1.2.

However …..

The clause below, from Section 1.9, is from the list of reasons why American Express Platinum will not pay out:

14) Trips in, or booked to, countries where a government agency has advised against travelling or which are officially under embargo by the United Nations.

You can see why the call centre told our reader that he was not covered.  On a strict reading of the document, my interpretation is the same – Amex won’t pay up if you don’t go (see Section 1.2) and they won’t pay up if you do go and fall ill (see Section 1.9).

However, I spoke to Amex yesterday about this case.  It told me, in writing, that they would settle claims for anyone who has to cancel a trip to China due to coronavirus.  Confusingly it pointed to Section 1.2 as proof, but under Section 1.2 the ONLY acceptable reasons for cancellation are:

a) You, or a person travelling with You, or a person You are visiting for the main purpose of Your Trip, having an accident, suffering an unforeseen illness or dying before or during Your Trip;
b) Your Close Relative, or a Close Relative of a person travelling with You, or a Close Relative of a person You are visiting for the main purpose of Your Trip, having an accident, suffering an unforeseen illness or dying before or during Your Trip;
c) Your redundancy which qualifies for redundancy payments under current legislation;
d) You being called for jury service or being subpoenaed as a witness other than in a professional or advisory capacity;
e) Unforeseen severe damage to Your home or Your business premises if the damage caused is likely to be more than £25,000;
f) Theft at Your home or Your business premises that requires Your presence by the police;
g) A delay of more than 12 hours on the outward leg of Your Trip as a result of industrial action, adverse weather, mechanical breakdown of public transport, or a transportation accident which means You no longer want to go on Your Trip

….. which makes no sense as Section 1.2 clearly does not list ‘Foreign Office guidance’ as an acceptable reason to cancel – but I will take their word for it.  Any other readers who are being fobbed off by the call centre may want to call back.

This is not the first time that we have had issues with Amex and the wording of its insurance documents.  Anyone with raised cholesterol, for example, is not covered for any medical conditions which can be linked to it.  That said, I can honestly say that – in numerous claims I have made over the years – it has paid out even when I had not acted strictly in accordance with the rules.

PS.  If you missed it, take a look at our recent article on 10 reasons why you should get the American Express Platinum card.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

New Kimpton Vividora hotel opening in Barcelona
Get 3,500+ Heathrow Rewards points (= Avios) with a Rocketmiles hotel booking

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
AMEX Gold 20,000 bonus points
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. OT – monese premium. Does anyone have any codes to extend premium, as it says I am not eligible for the “PREMIUMPLEASE” code previously mentioned in the comments?
    Anyone else got one to work previously?

    • Shoestring says:

      try 1MONTHFREE

      • Legend as always Shoestring.
        The PREMIUMPLEASE code above decided to work now – 3 months if anyone wants to use it…

        • With all due respect to Harry, I think the credit for that one goes to Boi IIRC, Harry having flagged it again the following day with appropriate thanks 🙂 .Along with the Dufry trick from Harry himself, the competiotion and CoT bonus from Rob, not a bad start to the new year for HFP given our hobby is somewhat in the doldrums of late.

  2. Riccatti says:

    This is a scary story. If facts align, clearly it is inadequate provision and FOS would come down on Nationwide mightily.

    • Lady London says:

      +1 @Riccatti. I agree that this should have been pursued. Nationwide’s underwriters (perhaps they are Axa?) should not have been allowed to get away with that. 3 letters/noted calls/emails, the last one giving them 14 days to settle the claim in full, and straight to the Ombudsman. Not sure if moneyclaim online would take this, as it would be a quicker/more reliable way. If this type of case is not excluded at small claims court level.

      However I do understand how exhausting these procedures can be particularly if you are ill. I suspect Liz’s friend was just glad to get out of the whole thing ‘still walking’.

  3. Can the AMEX Platinum card insurance be extended from 90 days in one trip to 120 days ?
    If so, anyone know a number or email to contact other than trying to go through the generic Amex phone number ?

    • No. Never heard of anyone getting any exceptions for anything.

    • Plat Business is 120 days. HSBC Premier insurance did let me extend to 3 months for a previous trip but the cost was something like £250 for 2 people.

      Currently on a 45 day trip using Plat Business as cover.

  4. “However, I spoke to Amex yesterday about this case. It told me, in writing, that they would settle claims for anyone who has to cancel a trip to China due to coronavirus.”

    Shame they failed to cover the swine flu back in2009

    I had arranged all the honeymoon travel and hotels for one of my sons. He had Amex plat supp card. They were already in the US when swine flu was first reported, then the FCO gave the do not travel warning. Amex said to contact hotel and airline as all flights from the UK were cancelled , explained to them that the flights were from the US to Mexico and were not cancelled still no cover.
    Total loss a little over £3000

    • Peter K says:

      Not as bad as that but I was refused treatment for swine ‘flu as I got the it just before they started handing out tamiflu like sweets to all and sundry. I rang the out of hours GP service and was told I did not sound ill enough (!) by the nurse and as I gave my temperature in F not °C the nurse said she did not know what that was so tough luck.
      2 weeks off work ill but thankfully no more than that.

      • It was a known mild flu

        • I ended up in hospital in Thailand with Swine Flu. 5 nights and a speedboat ambulance from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui! Flu led to early onset of Pneumonia.

  5. Anyone have any recent experience of the new Curve 1.5% fees and ‘financial transactions’ yet?

    I was able to put one through yesterday, with IHG card, and no fee, but now not working at all.

    • Benilyn says:

      That 1.5% is for govt/HMRC only at the moment no? Paying south England shouldn’t trip that right? Hope not…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It is HMRC only right now. It’s important to read the T&Cs and notifications carefully about these things.

      • Reading the HfP update I had read it as any payment that could only otherwise be made by debit card.

        But trying again this morning, it seems to be working again and no sign of the fee, so assume that is correct – great!

  6. Charlieface says:

    If your flight is cancelled, you can definitely get a rebooking. The airline should cover it. If they don’t the credit card company is jointly liable.
    If it’s not cancelled you would need to claim on insurance. If Amex won’t cover whether you fly or cancel, an FOS complaint is in order. It’s inadequate cover, and it’s probably also an unfair contract.

  7. OT: Using avios to upgrade a travel agent booking on BA, what happens to the e-ticket? Does it get reissued via TA? Or stay the same and BA just put you in a different bit of the plane? Will my work TA panic when they see any changes??


  8. OT — I was on the phone to BA and asked them to check if there was any Avios upgrade availability for an upcoming flight. Obviously, as a regular reader of HfP, I know all about Reward Flight Finder, but hadn’t looked at it in this case. It turned out there was no availability for me, but the person I spoke to asked me if I’d heard of Reward Flight Finder and suggested I used that in the future to check. I was pleasantly surprised; I had no expectation that BA would be advising customers to use that site.

    • When I was on the phone upgrading a flight a few months back the guy at BA said good job on finding the F award. I mentioned i used RFF and he knew about it straight away, reckoned it saved him loads of wasted time from people who used to phone in and make him search everyday for lots of destinations.

      • Lady London says:

        have had that experience many times with decent airlines, not with Iberia. I feel the agent the alternative flights I’ve found, the agent seems almost surprised as they are all findable, then incredibly happy and relieved that this was a ‘no problem’ short call for them and they were able to make a booking.

        Iberia on the other hand…. You can find all the flights you like and be correctly entitled to them, but they just don’t seem to be given procedures that allow their agents to be effective and conformant with what various provisions allow a customer to book.

        I;ve had to change a lot of flights recently and I can almost hear the relief and optimism in the agent’s voice as my account details come up as the call begins and they know it’s me. It helps that I’m also nice…. except with Iberia of course who would make a saint toss someone through a stained glass window.

  9. Suzanne says:

    Can anyone share experience on how Amex Plat / AXA apply the excess? The terms are a bit ambiguous in stating £50 ‘of any claim’. In the event of a claim do they in fact apply a £50 excess per insured person where relevant, and per section of the policy being claimed against? Thanks

    • Jonathan says:

      On a cancelled holiday I got the full money back, no excess and didn’t have to prove/provide anything. All done on trust.

  10. Harry T says:

    Any new tips for acquiring some easy Avios?

    • Tell many ‘friends’ about his place in the www.

    • Shoestring says:

      great fun, the points game – but the best tip is to see Avios for what they are: a currency – as such, there’s nothing dirty or infra dig about saving another currency: real money/ you have currency coming in and currency going out: your job is to optimise one (in) so that have plenty for the other (out), and obvs by saving currency going out, you’ll retain the use of more of it for the good things you want to do

      you can’t spend money twice

      so the extremely obvs things to do first would be the lowest hanging fruit/ getting your act together – mortgage, bills, tax breaks esp pensions/ ISAs, insurances etc – a lot of people could save £1000+/ yr by auditing expenditure and finding better solutions – doesn’t sound as exciting as a free 100,000 Avios but much easier to do for the same benefit

      obvs more fun to knock up the big/ small points/ currency wins and that’s where you can have some fun but I get just as much personal satisfaction making an easy £100/ 10000 Avios on cheap ins as I do (say) buying 9 months’ worth of Sky Sports for £14/ month this morning – or buying 20 lounges passes @$10 🙂

      • Harry T says:

        Good point! No point making an extra 10,000 Avios a year if you’re spending £200 too much for utility bills.

        • Lady London says:

          so in a sense the kind OT tips given by our Shoestring are indeed “on topic”, because Shoestring is a kind of “Avios facilitator” by mentioning other things that will leave you more currency for our hobby

  11. The Original Nick says:

    Can anyone tell me if flying IB long haul do they have on board wifi installed? Flying MAD-HAV in 2 weeks.

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.