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Travel insurance claims hotspots

Where do people claim on their travel insurance and why?

published: 25 October 2019
Read time: 5 minutes

Travel insurance is designed to cover your holiday or business trip – here are some of the most common reasons for claiming and how much these claims are worth

What can I claim for on my travel insurance policy?

The kind of claims you can make on travel insurance will depend on the policy you take out and the cover you add, but you can generally expect to be insured for at least some of the following:

Claims for travel delays, medical costs, cancellations and lost or stolen baggage make up almost 93% of all travel insurance claims, and over 95% of the cost of all claims, according to the TIF group, a major travel insurance provider.

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Baggage claims on travel insurance

Baggage cover pays out when any of your luggage is lost, damaged or stolen while you’re away.

Why do I need baggage cover?

Losing your belongings on holiday is enough to ruin any trip – especially if you’ll be well out of pocket as a result.

With baggage insurance you know that if something does happen to your luggage you’ll be financially compensated for the contents you lost – though there’s usually  a price limit for individual items.

You’ll be able to claim if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen – even if the airline was responsible for the damage, though you’ll need certain paperwork from the airport to support your claim.

Why might baggage claims on travel insurance be rejected?

Before you make a claim on your travel insurance for lost, damaged or stolen baggage, consider the following points as they could affect whether your insurer will accept your claim:

  • Left unattended: If you left your baggage unattended or in an unlocked room or vehicle and it was stolen, your claim may be rejected as your insurer will argue you didn’t take care of your belongings

  • Not reported in time: If your baggage is stolen, you’ll probably have to tell the police within a certain time period – usually 24 hours – and get a police report. You may also have to contact your insurer within the same time period – and if you don’t do both of these things they

  • Kept in the hold: Some baggage policies exclude items kept in the hold of a plane or ferry, often because they’re seen as out of your control

  • Items not covered: Finally your travel insurance baggage claim may be rejected – at least in part – because some or all of the items in your baggage weren’t covered by your policy

How can I avoid having to claim for baggage on my travel insurance policy?

Here are some tips to help avoid losing your luggage – so you can enjoy your holiday stress-free:

  • Identification labels: It’s always a good idea to have identification labels on your baggage items, showing your name and contact details in case you lose your things

  • Distinctive features: If your bags look quite plain or generic, consider adding distinctive features such as brightly coloured ribbons

  • Go to baggage claim immediately: The longer you leave it to collect your baggage after getting off the plane, the more time there is for someone else to take it – whether it’s accidental or deliberate. It’s best to pick up your things as soon as possible to be sure you’ve got everything with you

  • Take photos: Having photos of your baggage and contents can help support your claim by supplying evidence of items you’ve lost or had stolen, and can also help you recognise your belongings when you go to pick them up

  • Notify authorities immediately – and get a report: If you do think you’ve lost your baggage or it’s been stolen, remember to tell the airport authorities immediately. Make sure they file a report and give you a copy, as you’ll need it to support your claim

Cancellation claims

Cancellation cover is often one of the most important parts of travel insurance, as it will reimburse most of the cost of your holiday if you or the holiday supplier has to cancel.

Why do I need cancellation cover?

Your holiday plans could be cancelled for a number of reasons beyond your control – for example, if you fall ill or get injured, or your home floods after bad weather.

It might be that you have to cancel your holiday before you even begin your travels, which is why taking your travel insurance policy out as soon as you book your plans is so important.

Why might cancellation claims on travel insurance be rejected?

You might not be able to claim on your cancellation policy in certain situations, such as:

  • You were aware of the cancellation reason: If you knew there was a risk of having to cancel your holiday – for example, an illness or redundancy occurring that you had prior knowledge of – then you might not be covered for the cancellation

  • Not covered by your policy: If the reason for cancelling your holiday itself isn’t covered by your policy – such as pre-existing illnesses flaring up – then you won’t be able to claim for the cost of the trip. However you may be able to take out a ‘cancel for any reason’ policy – check with your provider to be certain

  • You change your plans on a whim: If you’re cancelling your holiday because you changed your mind or don’t feel like going, you’ll have to shoulder the cost

  • You missed your flights: If you need to cancel your holiday because you missed your flight, whether you’ll be able to claim or not will depend on the reason why you missed it

  • Your airline or holiday maker goes bust: Not all cancellation policies include cover for when your airline or holiday company goes bust, so it’s advisable to check beforehand if you think there’s a chance of this happening – though often it’s impossible to predict

How can I avoid having to claim for cancellation on my travel insurance policy?

It’s hard to predict what’ll happen in the future, and even when you have the right cover in place there can still be bumps in the road. However taking the following precautions will give you a better chance of either making a successful claim or not having to claim at all on your policy:

  • Check regularly: Keep an eye on your flight details, including changes in gate number or boarding time, so you aren’t forced to cancel or rearrange your travels

  • Book early flights: Booking an early flight means you’ll have plenty of time in the day to get to your destination if it is cancelled – so hopefully you’ll still be able to use your accommodation and avoid having to claim for that too

  • Support your claim: If you’re cancelling your holiday because of circumstances beyond your control, you’ll likely need certain documents to support your claim – for example, doctor’s notes or paperwork to prove you’re related to someone who has become ill or passed away

Travel delay claims

Travel delay cover as part of your travel insurance pays for the cost of alternative travel and accommodation arrangements you might have to make if your travel plans are disrupted.

Why do I need travel delay cover?

If your travel or accommodation arrangements are delayed or disrupted, whether it’s at the start, middle or end of your holiday, it can leave you stranded. Delays can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Poor weather

  • Strikes and industrial action

  • Airline companies going bust

  • Mechanical breakdowns

  • Public transport failure

  • A fault on your own part

Not all of these will be covered by every travel insurance policy, which is why it’s important to read your policy documents beforehand so you know what you’ll be covered for.

Why might travel delay claims on travel insurance be rejected?

Reasons your insurer might not pay out for a claim include:

  • Acts of God: Insurance policies often cover natural disasters, but they may specify which disasters they will and won’t cover. A good example would be the Icelandic volcano eruption of 2010, where many travellers believed they could claim for delays caused by ash clouds – but were denied

  • Length of the delay: Some insurers might only cover you if your flights were delayed for longer than a certain period of time, often around three hours

  • Reason for delay: While common causes of travel delays are listed above, you should check your policy to see what’s specifically covered

How can I avoid having to claim for travel delay on my travel insurance policy?

Sometimes unforeseeable events happen outside of your control, but there are measures you can take that will give you a better chance of either claiming successfully or avoiding the delay altogether. For example:

  • Check flight details regularly: As with flight cancellations, it’ll help if you keep up to date with any changes in the status of your flight or with your airline. This way if something does happen you’ll be able to act early and make new arrangements

  • Arrive early: The same applies if you get to the airport early – if there are any delays you’ll have time to react and take the appropriate action

Medical claims

Medical treatment cover pays out for the cost of receiving medical treatment abroad if you get hurt or fall ill while you’re travelling.

Why do I need medical cover?

Medical treatment costs outside of the UK can vary hugely, and in countries like Australia or the USA treatment tends to be very expensive – often reaching the hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is why medical treatment is the most common reason for people to claim on their travel insurance.

Why might medical claims on travel insurance be rejected?

As with any kind of insurance, medical treatment cover can come with exclusions – keep an eye out for the following:

  • Medical advice: If your insurer has given you medical advice, such as a list of vaccinations you’ll need, and you become ill as a result of ignoring this advice, it’s likely you won’t be covered

  • Doctor’s note/hospital paperwork: Likewise if you don’t keep the necessary medical paperwork from the hospital or healthcare professional, you might not be able to claim. However some insurers deal directly with the hospital before you’re actually treated, so they can confirm what treatments you’ll be covered for

  • Pre-existing conditions: If you have a pre-existing medical condition that flares up while you’re away and you haven’t declared it on your policy beforehand, you won’t be able to claim for any treatment you need as a result of the flare-up

  • Doctor’s travel advice: If your doctor advises you not to travel on medical grounds and you do so anyway, and you then require medical treatment, you might not be covered as you’ve ignored your doctor’s advice

How can I avoid having to claim for medical on my travel insurance policy?

It’s always advisable to take the right precautions concerning your health before travelling, especially to a developing country or one where certain conditions are common. Consider the following before you travel:

  • Visit the doctor beforehand: You should always go to the doctor before travelling, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or you’re going somewhere with high medical costs or common diseases. They’ll advise you on whether it’s safe to travel and what vaccinations you’ll need

  • Avoid tap water and street food: Tap water and street food in certain countries carry a risk of contamination, and tourists can be particularly vulnerable to health complications. Try to stick to restaurants and bottled water

  • Don’t forget medication: If you have a condition that requires medication, remember to bring enough with you for the duration of the trip – and extra in case you lose some. If you don’t, your insurer might refuse to pay for treatment as it would be down to your own negligence

  • Declare pre-existing conditions: As mentioned above if you don’t declare any pre-existing conditions beforehand it’s unlikely your insurer will cover the cost of treatment if they flare up

  • Declare dangerous or risky activities: If you’re planning on doing any dangerous activities like winter or water sports, you’ll also need to declare these so insurers can adjust your premiums in line with the increased risk of you getting hurt. If you get ill or injured as a result of dangerous activities you haven’t declared, you might not be covered for the treatment you’ll need as a result

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