A card protection plan makes sense when you have multiple cards, carry them around with you all the time, and use them frequently.

Your wallet had three credit cards from three different banks, a debit card from a fourth, a PAN card and driver’s license. But the other day, when you reached into your bag to pay for your groceries, your wallet was missing, along with all those cards.

If you had your wits about you, you would then systematically call each bank’s hotline and get your various cards blocked.

But keeping a cool head doesn’t make this task less bothersome, not to mention having to re-apply for new PAN and driver’s license.

The situation turns stickier if you are the type to panic, or if you’ve got the PIN of your debit card stuck in your wallet for safekeeping. There’s also the added worry of what your cards will be used for before they’re blocked.

Enter card protection plans. Under these plans, you will have to make a single call to the plan provider who will take up the task of blocking cards, helping you replace the ones lost besides providing some cover for fraudulent transactions made on the cards.

All in one

CPP Assistance Services India and One Assist are two such players which offer card protection plans.

The first benefit is, of course, that the provider will take up the task of blocking all your cards. What you need to do is to simply place a single call to them, once you realise that your wallet has been stolen.

This may not appear that attractive, since you can well make a few calls yourself. But if you’re in a hurry, or overseas on travel, it does seem a worthy benefit.

Besides, CPPs offer other benefits too. For one, transactions made on the cards for which you aren’t responsible will be covered, subject to a limit. For instance, One Assist’s Power WalletAssist plan will cover fraudulent transactions up to Rs 1 lakh. Such cover begins seven days prior to the reporting of loss.

This helps when a few days have elapsed before you figure your cards are missing. Such cover continues after you report the loss too. In CPP India’s classic plan, Rs 50,000 is the fraud limit prior to reporting which rises to Rs 1 lakh after the report.

Two, in higher-value plans, application process for new PAN card or driving license will be done at no additional charge. Three, just as with cards you can store details of documents such as an insurance policy. In case you lose these documents, you’d at least not be at a loss over passport or policy numbers.

Four, say you’re travelling when you lose your wallet.

Here, once you report the loss, the provider will offer assistance in settling hotel bills, reworking travel tickets if required, and in some plans, offer emergency cash. But don’t crow just yet. This ‘assistance’ will have to be paid back within 28 days.

Remember that fraudulent use without loss or theft is not covered. That is, if your card details have somehow been stolen – say when you used it online or when the person at the check-out counter took to a corner of the store to swipe – and then used, CPP will not help.

How to buy

Most banks have already tied up with either CPP India or One Assist, so you can approach your bank to buy one. Else, they can be bought from the provider itself, or even online.

Plans are usually valid for one year. Cost of plans can range from Rs 1,099 to Rs 1,715.

But note that in some cases, plans will renew automatically - and a charge made on your card - unless you say you don’t want it in writing. Do check on this at the time of buying.

Updating card or document details in case of change has to be done by you. Further, at the time of making claims, police reports have to be made and filed, whether you’re in India or out.

A CPP makes sense when you have multiple cards, carry them around with you all the time, and use them frequently.

Other options

The more premium cards, of the Titanium or Platinum variety, have a zero-liability clause for misuse.

So here, not only theft but misuse of details when the card is safe with you does not leave any onus on you. Some banks also have insurance bundled with their cards, but again, they are usually with premium cards.

Some insurance players, such as Tata AIG, have policies for card protection. Here, cost of replacing lost cards, papers, wallets, and so on is covered. But the list of exclusions rules out compensation for cash advances made on the card and misuse post-reporting of loss.

bhavana.acharya@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 26, 2013)
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