Pack your documents
It is important to take your insurance documents with you on holiday, so that you have all the relevant information to hand. In the event of a claim, you will need your policy number, plus the contact details of the claims line. Most insurers also run a 24 hour emergency assistance service that you can call from abroad.
Call your insurer promptly
If you think you will need to lodge a travel insurance claim, you should contact your insurer straightaway. There is often a deadline of 31 days, but it's always best to act promptly, just in case. Remember too that if you need medical treatment while you are abroad you might first need to seek authorisation from your insurer.
When you contact the insurer or claims handler, you will have to give some details of the incident. You will then be sent a claim form to complete. These days, you can also often download a claim form from the insurer's website.
Contact the police
Anyone who is a victim of theft or other crime while they are on holiday should contact the police, preferably within 24 hours of the incident. They might not be able to catch the thief or recover the stolen goods, but your insurer will almost certainly request a police report or crime reference number to pursue a claim.
The insurer will want evidence to support your claim. If you cancel your holiday due to ill health, for example, your GP will have to complete a medical form. And if your personal belongings are lost or stolen, you might need to supply receipts as proof of value and ownership.
Lost baggage is a common problem. If it happens to you, make sure you pick up a 'property irregularity form' at the airport.
Tell the truth
Don't be tempted to make a fictitious insurance claim. It is not ultimately a victimless crime as it pushes up premiums for everyone. It is also an offence and could land you in a lot of trouble.
Stick to your limits
Your policy will only pay out up to a certain amount in the event of a claim - and the amount could vary according to the type of claim. For example, you might be able to claim a lot more for medical treatment than for lost luggage. The details of all the claim limits should be in your policy schedule.
Don't forget the policy exclusions. For example, if you injure yourself while drunk or engaging in a hazardous sport, you might not be covered.
Remember the excess
The policy excess is the amount you have to pay towards each claim. So, if the excess is £100 and the claim is for £500, the insurer will pay £400.
You should refer to the policy excess before you make a claim as it might be worth footing the bill yourself if the incident is minor.