Guide to Credit card protection
Having your plastic cards stolen is not only distressing, but time consuming to deal with and potentially financially damaging. With the contents of your wallet likely to be worth many thousands of pounds, it is not surprising that card theft is costs in excess of £400m each year, according to APACS, the Association of Payment Clearing Services. A card protection policy will ensure the following:
you have access to emergency cash;
that all your cards are cancelled; and
that replacements are ordered as soon as you report the loss or theft to your card protection company. How much? Most card providers offer protection policies, with the cheapest starting from around £12 a month, with some policies offering a discount, if you sign up for more than a year, typically £50 for three years.
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You register the details of your cards, as well as important documents, such as your passport and driving licence, so that if your wallet or handbag is lost or stolen, the card protection company will contact all the relevant card providers and agencies on your behalf so you don't have the hassle of having to make lots of phone calls. The insurer will supply you with the numbers of your passport and driving licence so that you can apply for new ones, with some policies including the cost of replacing your passport and travel documents. For instance a replacement air ticket costs around £25-£30 and a new passport about £70.
Notify your card protection insurer immediately using the freephone or reverse charge number you will have been given when you took out the policy. The card protection company (the insurer) will normally have a 24 hours a day/ 365 day a year helpline and once reported, it will do the rest. It is essential that you inform the insurer immediately so that it can put a stop on all your cards immediately and thereby limit any fraudulent usage.
Most card protection policies include fraud protection, which means you're covered if your cards are used before you report them lost or stolen. However, under the Banking Code, unless you have been reckless or negligent in the use of your cards, you are covered for any losses in excess of £50. Reckless or negligent usage is typically where you have given out your PIN numbers to a third party or had these numbers written down in your handbag or wallet. Some policies also incorporate a protective registration service which is activated if identifying documents, such as passports or driving licences, are lost when your cards are stolen. The service ensures that your details are registered with CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention service. CIFAS will make extra checks on any applications for credit made in your name in order to block any attempt to adopt your identity.
What about cash?
The worst thing about losing your cards is that you could find yourself marooned in the middle of nowhere without cash. But this is where your policy will come into its own, by helping you out with an emergency cash advance. If you are abroad, you can typically have emergency cash of up to £3,000 wired to you, as a loan or advance. For an extra premium, you can buy cover for any lost or stolen cash of up to £200 a year.
Lost your keys?
If you lose your keys, some policies include a tag and retrieval service, whereby you are provided with a coded key ring so that if your house or car keys are found, the finder can post them to the insurer which will send them on to you. Some premium policies include up to £500 towards locksmith charges, car hire and transportation costs.
What about travel tickets?
Some policies include cover to replace lost travel tickets (up to £5,000 on some policies) and lost baggage cover of around £200
Cover of up to £100 is available on some policies for the cost of phone calls or internet usage incurred as a result of a loss or theft of your cards. There may also be up to £200 of cover to replace a lost handbag or wallet.
You are likely to have to pay an excess of at least £25 on each and every claim.
Before you buy card protection insurance, check whether you are covered already under your home contents or travel insurance as these policies may include cover for lost or stolen cash both in the UK and while abroad. If you have a ‘premier’ bank account, it is well worth checking whether card insurance is included as a ‘free extra.’
The two main companies offering stand alone card protection are Card Protection Plan and Sentinel Card Protection. Most banks and credit card companies also offer cover, for an extra charge, for their own credit cards.
Last updated 18 February 2009