Common Travel Insurance Claims

Bag stolen? Lost your credit card? Don't worry you're not alone – Common travel insurance claims and how to avoid these situations

Overseas travel can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also have its dangers for the unwary or unprepared traveller. This guide looks at the most common claims seen every day by travel insurance companies and offers a few tips on how to reduce your exposure to these risks when travelling overseas.

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Most common travel insurance claims

The most common travel insurance claims are those associated with the three main areas of risk: luggage or personal items damaged or lost, cancellations and overseas medical expenses.

While none of these risks is entirely avoidable, all can be mitigated by observing the following simple precautions.

Lost or stolen luggage

luggageLuggage can and does go missing, whether it’s put on the wrong plane, mistakenly picked up by a fellow traveller or deliberately stolen from the baggage carousel. It’s a common travel insurance claim, but there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of it happening to you.

Solution

  • Place identification labels on each of your pieces of luggage, with your name and details clearly displayed.
  • Remove any old destination stickers from your bags to avoid confusion.
  • If your luggage looks like everyone else’s, use something distinctive such as a bright piece of ribbon tied to the handle to reduce the likelihood that someone will pick up your bag from the carousel by mistake.
  • When your aircraft lands, proceed straight to the luggage carousel and wait for your luggage to appear. The longer you leave it and the more times it is allowed to travel around and around on its own, the more likely it is to go missing.
  • If your luggage does go missing, notify airport authorities immediately and obtain a written report from them for insurance purposes.
  • If your bags are delayed, obtain a baggage delay report from the airline so you can claim for the purchase of emergency essentials.

When doesn't travel insurance cover you?

While conditions vary from insurer to insurer, you won't have cover if:

  • You left your luggage unattended
  • You do not report the loss, theft or misplacement within the time frame specified by your insurer
  • Your valuables were in your checked luggage
  • Your claim is for a bicycle
  • Your claim is for loss of cash, travellers cheques, etc
  • You left your luggage in a vehicle

Find out how to lodge a successful travel insurance claim

cardsLost or stolen money and cards

Losing your cash or credit cards in a foreign country can put you in a difficult and dangerous situation. It’s a common travel insurance claim and one that could be reduced or avoided altogether with a little forethought and preparation.

Solution

  • Carry your wallet in an inside pocket or money belt, well out of reach of pickpockets.
  • Carry your cash and credit cards separately on your person, so that if one is stolen you will still have access to another source of funds.
  • When possible, don't carry all your credit cards together. Keep one locked in a hotel safe as an emergency backup.
  • Hold onto your bag or purse tightly on public transport and wear your shoulder bag across your chest rather than on your shoulder (to prevent snatch and grabs).
  • Avoid areas that are run down or poorly lit at night.

When doesn't travel insurance cover you?

While conditions vary from insurer to insurer, you won't have cover if:

  • You do not report the loss, theft or misplacement within the time frame specified by your insurer
  • You won't have cover if the funds were not on your person at the time they were stolen
  • You are unable to provide your insurer with a written statement of the card

Read more about travel money cards

3530731546_dfe574e454_mIllness or injury

Falling ill or being involved in an accident overseas can be a traumatic and potentially costly experience, especially if you don’t have overseas medical cover.

While it’s a frequent travel insurance claim, there are ways to minimise the chances of it happening to you.

Solution

  • Make sure you visit your doctor and have the recommended vaccinations for the country(s) you are planning to visit.
  • If you are travelling to a third-world country, avoid eating street food and only drink bottled water.
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you take adequate medication with you and keep it in its original packaging for customs purposes.
  • If you are planning to participate in high-risk activities during your holiday such as bungee jumping or whitewater rafting, make sure it is done safely through a legitimate and licensed service provider. Also check that your insurance policy covers the activity.

When doesn't travel insurance cover you?

While conditions vary from insurer to insurer, you won't have cover if:

  • You do not report the loss, theft or misplacement within the time frame specified by your insurer
  • You decline to promptly follow the medical advice of your insurer
  • Your claim is in relation to a preexisting condition
  • You are travelling against the advice of a doctor
  • You were treated under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

Want to know more about medical travel insurance?

4537984534_0d0352f60f_mCancelled flights and delays

Flight cancellations and delays happen all the time and are a regular reason for travel insurance claims. While you can’t control the actions of your carrier, you can take steps to ensure that you aren’t the cause of the problem yourself.

Solution

  • Check flight details regularly to be aware of any delays or changes to gate numbers.
  • Book your flights early in the day to avoid the "flow-on" effect of flight delays.
  • Be at the airport with plenty of time to spare and be at your gate well before it is time to board.
  • If the reason for your trip being cancelled is beyond your control (illness or death of a relative), make sure you obtain all the necessary paperwork to facilitate a claim such as doctor’s certificate, or proof of relationship.

When doesn't travel insurance cover you?

While conditions vary from insurer to insurer, you won't have cover if:

  • You were aware of the reason your journey was cancelled, abandoned or shortened, prior to taking out the policy
  • You are cancelling your trip due to the death or sickness of relative who does not meet your policies conditions
  • You change you plans
  • Your tour is cancelled because the operator failed to sell enough tickets
  • Your claim is related to insolvency of a transport provider
  • You claim is due to an act of terrorism

Find out more about cancellation travel insurance

Travel itemsLost, stolen or damaged items

Travelling with valuable items such as a camera, laptop or smartphone? While you can’t prevent an item from being damaged or stolen, you can take steps to make that less likely to happen.

Solution

  • Store fragile items such as laptops and tablets safely when not in use to prevent them from being accidentally damaged.
  • Secure your valuable items in the hotel safe when not with you.
  • If items are stolen, be sure to get a police report for insurance purposes (must be obtained within 24 hours of the theft being discovered).
  • Make sure the individual benefit amounts in your travel insurance are enough to cover item replacement and increase them if they aren’t.

When doesn't travel insurance cover you?

While conditions vary from insurer to insurer, you won't have cover if:

  • You do not report the loss, theft or misplacement within the time frame specified by your insurer
  • Your loss is for anything you left in a hotel or motel room
  • Your claim is for bank notes, cash, travellers cheques, etc
  • The loss is for a bicycle
  • Your luggage were sent unaccompanied
  • Your loss is for wear and tear
  • Your personal items were left unattended

Common claims in Bali

Many tourists holiday in Bali because of its low cost and proximity to Australia. This island paradise sees its fair share of travel insurance claims, predominantly for motorcycle mishaps, exposure to dengue fever and Bali belly. A little caution can go a long way towards reducing the number of claims visitors to Bali make every year.

Solution

  • Don’t drink the local water (including ice) or eat food that has been prepared using the water (such as salads).
  • Reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes by covering up and by not visiting Bali during the wet season.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate licence when riding a motorcycle or moped and are dressed appropriately, including a helmet. Be particularly cautious in traffic, which can be chaotic at the best of times.

Find out more about more travel insurance for Bali

Ensuring a successful claim

  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your insurer will honour your claim or pay the full benefit amount. Report the incident as soon as possible after it occurs. If you are ill or injured, have someone contact your insurer on your behalf.
  • Obtain all necessary documentation. If it’s a stolen property claim, make sure you have a police report and that you get it within 24 hours of the incident. If it’s a lost luggage claim, be sure to get a lost baggage report from the airport. And if it’s a medical claim, you’ll need paperwork from the doctor or hospital detailing your treatment and costs.
  • Be honest and upfront at all times. Don’t try and claim for things you aren’t entitled to or lie about circumstances. Insurers hear a lot of tall stories and know how to sort truth from fiction, so be upfront about everything if you want your claim to be successful.

Find out how to lodge a successful travel insurance claim

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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