If something goes wrong on holiday, or in fact before you are due to leave, and you have taken out travel insurance it is understandable that you will be looking to make a claim on the policy. But, with so much already on your plate you may not know where to start or more importantly – if the reason for the claim is even covered.
With this in mind, the first thing you should do is check that the reason for your claim is covered by your travel insurance – this can be found in the policy wording.
When making a claim with your travel insurance provider it is important to remember your travel insurance policy is there to protect you from loss of finances that cannot be claimed back from another source i.e. airlines, travel agent or accommodation provider.
Every travel insurer will have their own claims system so it is important to understand this. Having said that, there are some similarities across the industry that you can bear in mind; such as, when heading abroad ensure you take your travel insurance documents with you and make a note of the claims number and emergency assistance number.
Obtaining a claim’s form
To obtain a claim form, there are several avenues you can take; either call the travel insurer and ask them to post or email you the appropriate form/s or go to their website and download a form. When filling out a claim form you will be required to send in additional paperwork or evidence to support your claim. Some travel insurers will also offer an ‘e-claim’ or smart phone app option allowing you to complete your claims form online and attached any supporting documents electronically.
This evidence will assist the claims team in assessing your claim. All documents should be scanned copies of the originals and must be good quality i.e. not blurred. Not sending in all the appropriate evidence will delay the claims process. It is advised you keep a scanned copy of everything you send to the claims team – just in case!
Is there a time limit to claim?
If you are looking to make a claim it is advised you submit your claim and all the supporting evidence as soon as possible, ideally when you return home from your holiday.
When thinking about time frames, it is important to set your expectations. Most travel insurers will state their claims ‘turnaround’ time. Bear in mind, this time frame is from the time the claims department receive all of the necessary information to make a decision about your claim and not from when you receive your claims form. Travel insurance claims departments will be busier during the summer months and ski season, so there may be a slight delay.
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Medical Expenses Claims
Sometimes whilst abroad, you or your travelling companion may need to seek emergency medical attention. If this happens, you should contact your travel insurer’s emergency team as soon as feasibly possible. They will be able to liaise with the hospital and ensure the right treatment is given. Regarding payment, most claims will work on a ‘pay and claim’ basis for outpatient treatment and some insurers will suggest you contact their emergency medical assistance team if costs go over a certain amount (this will be stated in your policy wording) or if you are admitted to hospital.
When claiming you should submit any itemised bills given to you by the hospital.
Luggage Delay and Personal Possession Claims
Arriving at your destination with no sign of your luggage is not how you want your holiday to start and you may need to purchase essential items to get you by until you are reunited with your case. Most travel insurance policies offer a small daily amount of compensation to cover the cost of essential items such as underwear and toiletries but you must keep hold of any receipts. It is important to note, this compensation for essential items is only available on your outbound journey.
If your bag is lost, damaged or delayed on your outbound journey or if it is lost or damaged on your return journey, before leaving the airport, you should ensure you file a Property Irregularity Report with your airline or baggage handler and submit a copy of this with your claim form.
If you are submitting a claim for lost or stolen personal possessions you will be asked to submit proof of purchase for these items. This evidence could be a bank/credit card statement, receipt or gift receipt or online purchase receipts. It is also worth checking your travel insurance policy wording to ensure the personal possession single item limit is high enough to cover the claim.
It is important to note that most travel insurers will not cover personal possessions if they were left unattended or valuables that were not on your person or locked in a safety deposit box/hidden out of sight.
You will also need to ensure you file a police report and submit a copy along with your claim. Depending on your destination, some police stations are not open daily and if you are unable to file a report due to the station being closed you will need to supply evidence of this – we suggest taking photographs of the building and closed signs and ensure the date is visible on the photograph. A report from your tour operator or hotel manager confirming the stolen items can also be submitted as evidence.
You may also find some travel insurers will deduct wear and tear from personal possessions during the claims process. The percentage of the deduction will usually be broken down on the website so be sure to check this so you can set your expectation for the claims pay out.
If you are claiming for a lost, stolen or damaged gadget i.e. mobile phone or tablet, make sure you check the cover in your policy wording. Most travel insurance policies do not cover gadgets as standard and will require you to buy an additional extension to add gadgets on to your policy.
It is worth noting that items of higher value may not be covered by the limits on your travel insurance policy so ensure they are covered by your household insurance if you are planning to take them on holiday with you.
Having to cancel or come home early
If you are looking to claim because you have had to cancel your holiday or come home early it is important that you check that the reason for the claim is covered under the travel insurance policy before submitting your claim form.
Most travel insurance policies will cover cancellation for the following unexpected reasons:
- Death, Injury or Illness of you or your travelling companion
- Death, Injury or Illness of a close relative (providing it is not related to an existing medical condition)
- You or a travelling companion being called for jury service
- You or a travelling companion being made redundant
Most travel insurance policies will cover curtailment (coming home early) for the following unexpected reasons:
- You or a travelling companion become ill or sustain an injury on holiday
- The death, injury or illness of a close relative back home (providing it is not related to an existing medical condition)
- You or a travelling companion being called for jury service
- News of your home being left uninhabitable (following a burglary, fire or flooding)
If your reason for making a claim is not mentioned in the policy wording it may be worth calling your travel insurer as they may assess claims on an individual basis, but bear in mind that if you have brought a policy with limited cover and not checked the policy wording prior to making your claim, it may be denied.
When submitting a claim for cancellation you will be asked to provide a letter from your tour operator, transport provider and/or accommodation provider confirming you did not travel with them or use the accommodation. You will also be asked to provide a ‘cancellation invoice’ which will state whether or not a refund has been processed and if so, how much you have received. This amount should be deducted from your claim.
If you are looking to claim for cancellation due to a newly diagnosed or existing medical condition you may be tempted to speak with your GP and ask for a doctors note explaining why you have had to cancel your holiday. However, all travel insurers will provide a medical claim form for your GP to fill out so it’s best to download or request this first. Travel insurers will have specific questions they want answered in order to process your claim. Once the medical form has been fully completed ensure it is submitted with your claim form. Please note if you are claiming due to an existing medical condition that you didn’t tell your travel insurance provider about when you bought your policy, it is likely your claim will be declined.
Should you have to come home early from your holiday (this may be called curtailment on your policy) you should either submit a letter from the treating doctor or the travel insurer’s emergency medical assistance team confirming that it was medically necessary for you to come home early.
Most travel insurance policies will NOT cover you for cancellation or curtailment (coming home early) if the claim is due to the death, injury or illness of a close relative, with a pre-existing medical condition, who is not travelling with you. There are a few providers that will offer this cover, if the medical condition was stable at the time you bought your policy, so if this is your reason for cancellation or curtailment check your policy wording, and the exclusions carefully before you submit your claim.
Depending on the policy you could be asked to pay an excess or deductible when making a claim, but how does this work?
It’s applied to travel insurance policies to share the risk between you and the insurer and will be payable if you need to make a claim. The rule of thumb generally is, the higher the excess, the cheaper the travel insurance policy and if you have a low or no excess your policy may be slightly more expensive.
From most travel insurance policies the excess or deductible is paid per person, per claim, per section. Here’s an example:
→ You are claiming under two sections of the policy; £500 for medical expenses and £500 for curtailment. The total claim amount is £1000.
→ Each section has a £100 excess.
→ So the medical claim will have a £100 excess and if it’s just you claiming for curtailment, this will be £100 excess. The total claim amount you will receive is £800.
→ If someone else is also claiming for curtailment, they will have to pay a £100 excess. The total claim amount you will receive, after excess, is now £700.
Limits and Exclusions
All travel insurers have exclusions on their policies and here are some of the most common:
Alcohol Limits: If you need to make a claim following an alcohol-fuelled incident you may not be covered under your travel insurance policy. Some policies will have limits on the amount of alcohol that is found in your system (check this on the policy wording as it will differ across companies) and no policies will cover claims if you deliberately put yourself at risk.
Narcotics: Travel insurance policies will not cover any claims where you were under the influence of narcotics.
Refused Boarding: If you are refused boarding and are unable to reach your destination, you will not be covered by your travel insurance.
Incorrect Travel Documents: Expired passports, passports not having the correct amount of validity left, incorrect visas, spelling mistakes/typos, etc. preventing you from reaching your destination will not be covered.
Small print: Don’t get caught out! We strongly advise you to take time to read your make sure you do take time to read your policy wording carefully and that the cover is suitable for your individual needs and that it meets your expectations. It’s better to spend a few minutes doing this and possibly pay a bit more than not be covered if you need to make a claim.
We know that understanding insurance terms can be tricky, so our glossary is here to help:
A Doctor’s note, medical certificate or Doctor’s certificate is a statement from a medically qualified practitioner which outlines the result of a patient’s medical examination and can be used as evidence of a medical condition. Once again, if you are claiming for cancellation ask your doctor to fill in the medical form attached to your claim form.
Some travel insurers will provide a medical reference number and others will provide you with an endorsement. This is to confirm that you have declared a medical condition with your travel insurer.
The amount you can claim for a single item. Most travel insurers will have a set amount that you can claim up to for any one item or a pair/set, so be sure to check this in the policy wording.
If your luggage goes missing or is damaged whilst in the custody of the airline you will need to speak to a member of staff at the airport. They will take your address, telephone number and a description of your luggage and give you a receipt which must be kept safe and submitted with a claim.
Underwear, socks, a change of clothes and toiletries
The amount deducted from the value of an item taking into account wear and tear and the age or the product.
A form of confirmation from your tour operator, transport provider and/or accommodation provider confirming you did not use any pre-booked transport or accommodation.
Returning home from your holiday before your original return date.
The amount that will be deducted from your claim. This will usually be per person, per section and per claim unless stated otherwise on the policy wording.
When claiming for lost or stolen possessions you may need to submit evidence that you own the item/s, this can be a bank/credit card statement, receipt or gift receipt, online purchase receipts.
The total amount the travel insurer will pay for valuables irrespective of the single article limit. Travel insurers will define what they class as a valuable and this will differ between policies so check the policy carefully.
Anything that is not covered by the travel insurance policy.
A list of expenses, similar to a receipt, to be submitted when making a medical claim. An itemised bill will outline any treatment or diagnostic examinations that have been carried out by the treating doctor.
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