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Claiming What’s Yours!

About filing a travel insurance claim…

Filing any sort of insurance claim is a rather involved process – travel insurance is no different.  And you have ‘before-the-trip’ claims, and ‘during-the-trip’ claims to deal with.  In both cases, you will need documentation.  The more documentation you have, the better, so save everything that might apply.  Take a large envelope or file with you and keep it handy.  Throw everything into that file as you go: receipts and proof of payments, unused tickets, police reports, proof from an airline that there was a delay, and so on.

It is important to keep in mind that every travel policy is different.  Read that policy!  Make sure you understand what is covered, and what is not.  Keep the company contact info with you – both the phone number and the website address.  If you purchased the coverage through an agent, review the policy with that agent and make sure you are comfortable with all the details before you leave.

Be sure to call the insurance company and let them know about your claim.  The sooner, the better – this will speed up your reimbursement waiting time.  And if you wait too long to file, there is a good chance you will lose track of some of your claim documentation.  Most companies have reporting requirements – say, within 30 days of your return home or the like – be aware of their rules.  Again, calling as soon as you get back is the best plan; the company will also set out their specific claim requirements, depending on what went wrong during the trip.  You can usually download a claims form from a company site – you might consider having a look at it before you go.

Some claims basics:

  • Take all travel insurance documentation with you on the trip, leaving a full set of copies with a friend or family member back home.  Keep your policy number handy.
  • Do your best to stay calm in any emergency.  Get yourself together, make a list of what’s missing or details important to a claim and then call the help line.
  • See a doctor for pre-trip cancellations due to illness or injury.  You will need to prove to the insurance company that your doctor informed you that you were too ill to travel.  This may require a full diagnosis or a ‘physician’s statement.  In writing of course.
  • Always obtain and save written confirmation of any travel delay or cancellation from the airline, ferry, railway or bus operator.
  • Report lost or stolen baggage to the police as quickly as possible, within 48 hours at most.  Obtain a written report.  Hang on to it!
  • Keep receipts and itemized bills for all expenses – especially for trip cancellation claims.
  • Keep unused tickets and proofs of payments.
  • Ensure you take all sensible precautions for safeguarding your belongings.
  • In the event of death, accidental injury, medical expenses and illness likely to require hospitalization, repatriation, or change in your travel itinerary, contact your insurance company’s help line at once.
  • Keep clothing receipts from the trip, along with dinner stubs, museum passes, anything that might lend strength to your claim.
  • Do not discuss, agree or pay any potential claim against you for personal liability.
One more thing: with a personal belongings claim, you will need proof of ownership for lost and stolen things.  Receipts may be hard to come by, obviously, but photographic evidence of ownership helps, as do warranty cards, owners manuals, bank or credit card statements and so on.  Ask yourself before you go:  how could I prove I owned this stuff?  And that I took it with me? Photos and a good inventory of what you are taking will doubtless go a long way to supporting your claim.  Just make sure this stays somewhere safe  while you travel!

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