Travel insurance

How to make a successful travel insurance claim

23 July 20205 min read

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In a turbulent travel world of collapsing holiday companies and unexpected flight suspensions, travel insurance is more vital than ever.

However, even if you try to cover all eventualities, a claim could still be rejected, with common reasons including not actually being covered for the item you are claiming for, taking part in activities that aren’t included in the policy or insufficient evidence for your claim, such as missing receipts.

So, to help keep things simple and to take the pain out of travel insurance claims, make sure you follow the checklist outlined below.

Step one: Buy the right policy

The key to making a successful claim is to buy the right policy in the first place.

It can be tempting to buy the cheapest policy you can find without any real reference to either the depth or breadth of cover on offer. But the problem with this approach is that, should the worst happen, you may find you don’t have the cover you expected and therefore can’t make a claim for items from cancellation to curtailment, personal baggage, travel delay, and even the cost of replacing lost passports.

Individual needs vary and there are a range of products on the market. However, when comparing travel insurance products you may wish to use the following as a guide:

  • £2 million for medical expenses
  • £1 million for personal liability
  • £3,000 for cancellation – or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
  • £1,500 for baggage
  • £250 for cash
  • A policy excesses of less than £100 (as low as possible)
  • Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure as desirable
  • Delay cover (eg £20 per hour for the first 12 hours)
  • A 24-hour helpline number.

While policies covering the above may not be the cheapest, they should give you a good level of cover as a starting point and could pay dividends should you have to make a claim.

Step two: Read the policy small print

Now you have found a policy that works for you, it’s important to read the small print. This will detail the responsibilities you have a as a traveller to ensure you do not void your travel insurance or any claim you want to make.

It may look daunting and even a little boring – but 15 minutes reading through the policy will help you understand how it works and prepare you should anything go wrong while you are away.

Pay particular attention if you are planning any unusual sporting activities or travelling to an off-the-beaten-track destination.

If you find that your policy is unsuitable for your needs while you are checking through the fine print, you can ask for a refund within 14 days of purchase, as long as you have not yet started your trip. This cooling off period gives you the chance to find a replacement that will better meet your needs.

Step three: Have your policy details to hand while you’re away

Policy documents can be bulky, so you may choose not to travel with them. If this is the case, save them to an online email account so you can reference them if you need to.

Being able to read the detail will really help you take action should anything happen.

And, when you're out and about, keep a copy of your policy number and insurer contact details on your mobile phone. That way you'll have them to hand should you need them. This can make a massive difference for things such as medical claims, especially in countries where there aren’t reciprocal health schemes, such as the USA.

Step four: Use the helpline

If something goes wrong you can, of course, refer to your policy – either from a print-out or online. But, if you are in any doubt, be sure to ring the helpline provided – this is essential with medical claims so that the insurer can make sure you get the best treatment and assistance.

The insurer’s helpline is also useful for verifying the steps you need to take to make a successful claim and to double check that you are actually covered for any incidents that have happened.

Step five: Make your claim in time

All travel insurance claims must be made within the specified timeframe detailed in your policy. Most companies state you must register a claim within 28 to 31 days of returning home, otherwise a claim cannot be considered. You then have a second period of time (which does vary) to get a written claim in to your insurer.

Keep in regular contact with your insurer if you are facing delays in making your claim for any reason.

Step six: Keep all supporting evidence

All insurance claims will need supporting evidence, including police reports for lost or stolen luggage, travel invoices for cancellations and written confirmation about a travel delay from your holiday company.

The small print of your policy will detail what is required so you can gather the relevant evidence while you are away if required. If in doubt, call the helpline and ask for advice.

It also pays to take photos and videos, as appropriate, for your claim to support your account of what happened. Plus, if there were any witnesses, you can also take a note of their details to supply to your insurer.

Send all of your supporting evidence, along with your claims form, to your insurer and keep copies for your records of these along with all communication you make.

In dispute?

Once you have made your claim, if you find you are in dispute with your travel insurance company you can use the Financial Ombudsman service – around 50% of all cases are found in the customer’s favour.

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