05 December 2017 by Anna Staford
Travel can be an amazing experience. Whether it’s a weekend away, or trip of a lifetime, it’s a chance to do something different, relax and get away from your day to day routine. However, anyone who travels will also know that inevitably things can go wrong.
Did you know that travel insurance is one of the most frequently used insurance policies? And that UK travel insurance companies pay out a whopping £365 million a year in claims payments? So it’s worth knowing how to make a travel insurance claim successfully and the do’s and don’ts of claiming. It could save you a lot of time, money and anguish in the event that you need to make a claim.
The first vital step is make sure you buy travel insurance! Whether you are travelling for the first time, or a frequent traveller, never, ever travel overseas without it. It’s an essential, not just a nice to have luxury. Skimping on buying travel insurance could cost you thousands if you have an accident abroad and you will almost certainly find a policy for a LOT less than that. You can buy travel insurance cover for 2 weeks in Europe for under £25, so why take the risk of travelling uninsured?
Assuming you have taken the first essential step of buying cover:
How do you make a successful travel insurance claim?
Here are some simple travel insurance claim tips to help:
Choosing travel insurance with the right level of cover is essential. This will avoid utter disappointment and exasperation if you later try to claim for something that simply isn’t covered. You can’t expect to claim for a lost iPhone if baggage cover isn’t included on your policy, or if the baggage single article limit is £150. Choose carefully, read your policy and get clarification on any questions you have.
To get the right cover, think about the trips you will take, the luggage you’ll need and anything that may impact your insurance. For example any pre-existing medical conditions. Always fully comply with the insurance medical declaration requirements and don’t travel against medical advice. Travel insurance is for accidents and sudden unforeseen medical issues. Not ongoing medical conditions or elective treatment.
No one expects things to go wrong on their trip, but it's best to prepared in case they do. Carry insurance documents with you, including contact details for the Claims Handler and Emergency Assistance Company. Know the claims procedure, so you are clear on what to do and what help you can get, and store the Claims and Assistance numbers on your mobile so you can contact them quickly and easily if you need to.
If something happens while you are away which may result in a claim – like a loss or theft - report it to the local police and get this in writing, or at the very least record basic details like the incident number, where and who it has been reported and the date/time. Advise the hotel and/or tour operator of the incident and get confirmation of your report in writing. This will all go towards validating the loss and help your claim. If you lose at item of baggage in transit when travelling by air you must complete a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ (PIR Form) at the airport. Contact the Claims Handler as promptly as possible and they can confirm exactly what you need to do.
Most travel insurance policies have a 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Service to assist if you have an emergency while abroad. If you have an accident, or are admitted to hospital, or need to return home for an emergency, contact them immediately and let them coordinate the necessary arrangements for you. If you make arrangements without their agreement, you may not be able to claim costs back. Let the Assistance Company take the strain of coordinating and fronting costs and that way you know they are approved by your travel insurer. Costs could quickly run into thousands in medical expenses, accommodation and flights.
The Assistance Company provide invaluable support 24 hours a day with multilingual staff and medical personnel to liaise with treating doctors overseas. Repatriation can be arranged, including a doctor or nurse escort where necessary.
It makes sense to provide as much documentary evidence as possible to help substantiate your claim. Your evidence will obviously depend on what you are claiming for, but this should include items such as police reports, receipts (of original purchases, or money spent due to an event that you intend to claim for); photos of items (eg: of you wearing the item you have had stolen); confirmation from the travel operator of the number of hours you were delayed, and the reason why; evidence that you have not been refunded for travel bookings elsewhere; medical reports; and anything else you think could support your claim.
Just because you have travel insurance, it won’t cover everything, so before you wrack up costs for alternative flights (if yours is delayed), or cancel your holiday because you’ve decided against going, or had a series of medical tests because the local treating doctor said they were available, check you are covered. The sooner you establish contact with the Claims or Assistance provider, the clearer you will be on what you are covered for.
Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events, so accidents, unexpected illness or injury. The Medical Expenses section usually covers emergency medical costs to treat you until you are fit enough to be repatriated to your home country, or discharged to carry on your trip as normal. Once you are medically fit to travel, the Assistance Company may opt to repatriate you rather than agree for you to stay in your destination if you are going to require longer term ongoing treatment. Don’t expect to be covered for every medical test available – even if the treating doctor offers them. The Assistance Company Doctor will liaise with treating doctors and agree what is actually medically necessary and reasonable in the circumstances. That’s why you should contact the Assistance Company asap before agreeing to treatment and tests.
A decent travel insurance policy will allow you a reasonable amount of time to submit a claim, but you should do this as soon as possible after the event. Especially as there may be a time limit for making a claim. Most companies will accept a late claim if there is a very good reason why, but don’t take the risk. The sooner you submit your claim, the fresher the facts will be in your mind, and the sooner you could get a pay out.
These tips won’t help you get a claim that isn’t covered paid, but they should help you claim successfully if the cover is in place. Most importantly of all travel safe and good luck if you need to claim.