I received a new credit card in the mail recently and decided to actually read all the pamphlets that came with it. I’m sure this is something that few people do but we now live in a present day where financial (and telecom) companies’  staff are encouraged to up-sell you regardless of legalities, morals, or your ability to pay. I thought it might be a good idea to learn what I could gleefully purchase with my credit card, knowing I would be protected from theft and loss with their “purchase protection” freebie. What I learned is I was happier not knowing.

I’ll share info from my chosen credit card company’s pamphlet, and yours may be different, but I guess most of the “purchase protection” programs are similar. Banks, insurance companies, telecom giants, et al, are all in the business to earn profits after all, not to conspire to keep our costs and their profits ridiculously high. Those “record-breaking” profits as self-reported every year by banks/insurance companies don’t even concern me. Until I get my annual notice for insurance renewal; then I claw at my throat gasping.

My pamphlet was quick to note that purchase protection would be for personal property only; anything used for commercial purposes was not covered. I wonder how many credit card companies would disallow loss of our smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. because “sometimes” we use them for work-related needs.

The specific exclusions and limitations were detailed and it took longer for me to read it all than it will be for you to suffer through this article. But here’s a quick version.

Currency such as traveler’s cheques, actual money, tickets, documents, negotiable instruments or numismatic properties would not be covered by loss or theft. Makes sense; unless you’re a criminal.

Also excluded were animals, fish, birds or living plants. Birds and fishes are types of animals someone should tell the bank. Consumable and perishable items were excluded. You just can’t put a price on your Aunt Maria’s lasagne so don’t even ask them to replace it.

Lost mail order items are not covered. They don’t want to be involved with that! Anyone who has ever tried to retrieve a lost item or it’s value with a mail or courier service understands the exclusion.

Golf balls are excluded. This one item had it’s own numbered bullet on the list and that really caused me to pause and think. They must have had a lot of people previously claim reimbursement of lost golf balls for this to be included. Really people? How many times did you people claim this it had to be included? Because of the cost of all those previous golf ball replacement claims insurance companies had to pay out our collective insurance rates are now horrendous!

Since they are not specifically or even generally named as excluded, one can assume that all other sporting balls are covered. If I were a golf ball I would feel bullied and marginalized right now. Or are golf balls explicitly named because finance and insurance companies harbour a bigoted suspicion of golfers?

This whole business reminds me of the warning in the brochure for the new clothes iron I bought: “Do not iron clothes while wearing them.” Some idiot somewhere must have done this for it to be included in the notice!

All your trinkets, expensive gems and jewelry or furs are not covered. And if you lose anything that is part of a pair or set they will only replace the missing piece. So, if you lose a left shoe presume they’ll only buy you another left shoe. That seems petty.

Lastly, like golf balls, this item had its own number on the list of exclusions; they will not cover any item “left behind” which I guess means the gloves, scarves, umbrellas and children I’ve mistakenly left behind when using public transit.

So, what do they cover with purchase protection when you buy it using the credit card?

Clothes are okay, but not edible underwear as that’s a consumable, and so 1980’s anyway. And really gross if you spend too much time thinking of it. That new cane or walker you’ve had your eye on as the perfect red carpet accessory is covered, as is the drone your kid uses to spy on the neighbours, although by using it to break the law this would void any coverage.

Refrigerators, stoves, and appliances are all covered although we don’t often hear of a burglar running off with a fridge full of beer, or even an empty one. Your electronics are covered but don’t use them for any work; that will be found out when they subpoena your telecom bills if you appeal their exclusion.

The general exclusions and limitations were the next section in the brochure and it felt uncomfortably sad yet funny to read “Mysterious Disappearance” was an exclusion. That is very unfortunate for the families of alien abductees and when claiming lost socks purchased with your card as they’re rarely lost in pairs.

If insects or vermin (they didn’t say if that colourful term included phone scammers) caused your claim you’re not covered. Gas barbecues damaged by flood, earthquake or radioactive contamination are not covered, nor is loss due to rust, corrosion, expansion or bulging, damp or dry, hot or cold. It appears they really don’t want to cover a gas barbecue for any reason. Pay cash for that.

Realistically, it appears that purchases of most household furniture and personal items, even clothing and handbags are covered but to be sure, read your own cardholder agreement.

If they cover golf balls, please let me know!

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