What limits do insurers impose on baggage cover?
Travel insurance policies usually set a cap on the amount they will pay out for lost or stolen baggage. This is typically between £1,500 and £2,000, though some extend to £2,500. For most holiday makers this level of cover is ample, but if your luggage contains items of particular value, you could come unstuck.
This is because many travel policies impose single-item limits on contents of baggage, usually ranging from £200 to £300. This is simply the amount per item that you can claim. So if one of your stolen bags contained a necklace worth £600, you would end up out of pocket.
Items of high value will have to be insured separately by calling the travel insurer and adding a bolt-on to your policy. Make sure you get the 'add on' agreement in writing and be aware of any related excess you may have to pay in the event of a claim.
Knowing your excesses
The excess - which is the fee you will usually be required to cough up in order to facilitate a claim - is usually between £50 and £70, but, as with the level of cover offered by each insurer, can vary wildly between policies.
This means that, if you find a particularly cheap baggage cover quote when shopping around for your travel insurance, further investigation may reveal it comes with a very high level of excess.
In some cases, depending on the value of your baggage, the excess would mean it's not even worth making a claim. When you compare travel insurance policies, aim to balance the premium price with the level of covered offered and excesses you'll have to pay, and remember not to simply opt for the cheapest deal.
Common exclusions with baggage insurance
There are plenty of common exclusions to be aware of when dealing with travel baggage cover. For example, even separately-insured items (and cash) are unlikely to be covered if the bag or case it's stored in is unattended, for example in the hold of a plane or the trunk of a coach.
Another typical exclusion usually relates to failing to report property stolen to the police within 24 hours of discovery. This is partly because you will need a crime reference number to facilitate the claim.
Airlines and baggage
Luggage lost on a temporary basis may not always be the responsibility of your travel insurer.
If you arrive at your beach destination before your bag does, you can usually request payment from the airline for all necessary related purchases such as swimming costume and toiletries. You will also be entitled to compensation if your baggage is still not recovered after a period of 21 days.
What if the airline damages my baggage?
When you pick up your luggage it's important to check it over for damage and report this before leaving the airport. You'll need the resulting paperwork if you are to make a claim through your travel insurance policy. Failure to report the damage at the time could result in the insurer refusing to pay out.
Baggage safety tips
Much easier than claiming against the airline or claiming on your baggage insurance, is to try to prevent your luggage being lost or stolen in the first place. You can take a few easy measures to reduce this risk.
Look after your high value items. Always carry them in your hand luggage or even on your person in a waist belt. Better still, if you can, leave them at home. In any case never leave any bags unattended.
Use a padlock on your suitcase. This will reduce the chance of opportunistic thieves swiping items from your bag or - worse still - putting items in.
Use a colourful luggage strap. Not only will this mean your bag is easy to identity, but it makes opening the case more difficult for anyone who is unauthorised to do so. Make sure all of your bags are also clearly labelled with your name, address and mobile contact number.
Split your clothes. If you are travelling with a close companion, split your clothes between two suitcases to increase your chances of being reunited with at least some personal items when you arrive at your holiday destination.
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