17 July 2018 by Anna Staford
If something goes wrong with your holiday plans either before your travel, or during your trip, and you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you want the process to be as stress free and straightforward as possible. The last thing you need is unnecessary hassle and a holiday insurance claim denied at the end of it.
UK Travel Insurers pay out a whopping £345 million a year in claims payments, but not all claims are paid, so we’ve prepared some of the most common reasons why travel insurance claims get rejected, to help you avoid this happening to you, your friends and family. Read on and find out how.
Arguably the most valuable reasons for buying travel insurance is to protect against unforeseen medical emergencies. It’s essential that you check and comply with the rules set by your chosen travel insurance provider. The declaration requirements vary so always check carefully before you buy and never withhold details of a pre-existing condition, or you risk invalidating one of the costliest claims you could ever have. Often there’s a helpline to call if you have a medical condition that is not accepted as standard to check if they will offer cover for at a price or tailored terms.
Do not travel against doctor’s medical advice. This could be harmful to your health and be another reason why your medical claim is rejected. Remember, travel insurance is intended to cover unforeseen, unexpected illness and injury.
Travel insurance policies vary in terms of what adventure and sporting activities they cover. Normally, they won’t cover extreme sports and activities as standard, but cover may be available for an additional premium for activities like bungee jumping, parasailing, trekking at heights etc. Check what’s covered before you sign up for your holiday activity and risk an accident that you may not be covered for. If a claim relates to an injury sustained while participating in an excluded activity, your claim might be rejected.
Injury or accident arising from excessive alcohol, (or any illegal drug use) will not be covered by travel insurance. You are not expected to be teetotal, however, you must always drink responsibly and not use any prohibited drugs, or medication unless prescribed by a physician. If you have an accident or are injured while drunk, any medical, repatriation or associated costs - such as missed original flights - will not be paid by your travel insurance.
Laws and customs around alcohol consumption vary in certain countries so know the rules in your chosen location before you get there.
Read the terms of your chosen travel insurance provider, but assume that unattended items will not be covered unless they are in a locked hotel safe, or locked securely out of sight in a car boot. If you leave your phone, watch, and wallet ‘hidden’ in your beach bag, or under your towel while swimming, assume your claim will be rejected. Always obtain a Police Report for any loss or theft, and if you can’t get that, ask your travel operator or hotel to give you a written statement, which might help support your claim.
Providing suitable evidence is essential for a successful claim. Whether this is a Police Report to evidence a theft, purchase receipts for valuables, Doctors Certificate, or travel delay confirmation from the carrier - if you want to claim, it's reasonable that you produce sufficient evidence for the loss.
Your claim will not be paid if it arises as a result of travelling to a location that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) have advised against travel. Visit the FCO's website or the WHO's website in advance of booking your travel for up to date, country by country, safety and security advice.
Any claim made that arises from illegal, fraudulent or dishonest behaviour will not be covered by travel insurance. Travel insurance companies share information on such claims as an industry wide fraud prevention and detection measure. Similarly, claims arising as a result of reckless behaviour such as the unauthorised use of swimming pools, going to restricted locations, are also not covered by travel insurance. You must abide by all relevant rules and regulations during travel and at your chosen location.
The best time to buy travel insurance is as soon as you book your trip. But it will only cover for unforeseen and future events. So you can’t claim for something that has already happened, or that you knew about before you bought your policy. This claim will be rejected and could be considered as fraudulent.
There are some great policies out there, but your travel insurance policy won’t cover everything, in every circumstance, so take 10 minutes to choose the right policy and to understand the do's and don'ts of your cover.
If you believe that you have a genuine claim that has been incorrectly rejected, or not paid in full, resist the temptation of immediately turning to social media to vent your frustration! Ask your travel insurance provider, or their designated Claims Handler to explain the decision fully so you understand their reasoning. It could be a misunderstanding that's quickly addressed with some clarification on either your part or that of the insurance company. If you remain dissatisfied, then follow the complaints procedure set out in the policy. The initial complaint will usually be answered by the travel insurance provider, or the Claims Handler within a set time frame. If this doesn’t solve it to your satisfaction, you can turn to the Financial Ombudsman as your final port of call who will independently review the matter.
Ultimately travel insurance companies pay out about £1 million per day in travel claims and most claims are paid. But they won’t pay every claim they receive, and can’t be expected to do so if it’s outside the terms of the policy. Be a savvy traveller and take the time to buy the right policy for you; with the right level of cover; know the terms that apply to claims; what is covered and excluded before you travel. That way you won’t run the risk of getting your claim rejected. Be well prepared and have a safe trip!