Get a police report
With claims for lost or stolen goods, get a police report or some sort of police reference number as soon after the incident as possible. A claim may be refused if you do not have some formal evidence that the theft or loss has occurred. If it is not possible to get a police report, other proof such as a letter from your hotel may be acceptable. If you’re not sure what to do, contact the emergency assistance number provided by your Insurer.
Try to report any loss or theft to the authorities within 24hrs. If you are unable to do it as the police station is closed or you are in a remote location, contact the Insurer’s emergency assistance number at your earliest opportunity.
Take “Reasonable Care”
Insurance providers expect you to take “reasonable care” of your belongings and yourself when travelling. The term reasonable care is used throughout the insurance industry.
In layman terms it is a standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would observe under a given set of circumstances. It has to be rational, appropriate, ordinary or usual in the circumstances.
Basically, Insurers expect you to use common sense. Leaving your laptop unattended at a cafe is not taking reasonable care. If you lock your valuables in a hotel safe and they are stolen, then you have taken reasonable care.
Do not leave belongings unattended or in a situation where you have not taken reasonable care to protect it.
Insurers understand that people drink on holidays; however, they expect you to drink responsibly. Having too much to drink could make a medical claim void. Driving a scooter without a helmet after having too many drinks is not taking reasonable care. This may sound like common sense; however, the example above occurs more frequently than you would think.
Claims are assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, if alcohol was a contributing factor, your claim may be denied.
Carry valuables in your hand luggage
Airlines have some legal responsibility for items in their care and will usually compensate you for lost luggage. Whilst your clothes and toiletries might be covered, the compensation amounts are usually limited, so items such as cameras and jewellery might be excluded.
Be aware that some travel insurance policies won’t cover valuable items if they have been checked into the hold with your luggage. So, try to carry your valuables on your person or in your hand luggage.
If your luggage goes missing, get a report from the airline as soon as you can.
Proof of travel delays
If your travel arrangements are delayed or likely to be cancelled, contact the emergency assistance number provided by your travel insurance provider to ensure you follow the right process.
Whilst most airlines will try to make alternative arrangements for you, in some cases, such as severe weather events or natural disasters, travel might not be possible at all. If your flight is delayed or cancelled you will need proof to make a claim, usually in the form of a letter from the airline. Your claim could be turned down if you can’t provide proof.
Declare medical conditions
If you fail to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions your insurer may deny your claim. Make sure you give full and correct information about any pre-existing conditions related to all the travellers named on the policy, including children. Many minor conditions are automatically covered but should still be declared.
Be upfront with your Insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions and contact your provider if you have any questions.
Death in the family
Insurers have different policies and conditions relating to the death of a close relative. Some consider a close relative to be a parent, sibling or child, but not grandparent, aunt or uncle.
If the state of health of a close relative could disrupt your travel plans you should let your insurer know when you apply for your policy. Some insurers will require you to complete a pre-existing medical appraisal for the non-travelling relative. You may be covered, or an additional premium might be payable.
Check the wording of the policy and contact your provider if you are unsure.
High-risk sports and activities
Most travel insurance plans will not cover you for extreme sports or activities such as base jumping or running with the bulls. Check the policy wording to see what’s covered and what’s not.
Some comprehensive travel insurance policies include cover for activities like skiing, whilst others will charge an additional premium for ski cover. If you are planning to ski during your trip, make sure you select a policy with the appropriate cover. Check the policy wording and pay the additional premium if required.
If you are going to engage in high-risk activities or sports understand that you might not be covered for any claims arising from these high-risk activities.
“Travel Service Provider” insolvency
The industry has seen a number of airlines go bust over the past few years along with some cruise lines, and rental car companies. Australia has seen its share with Ozjet and Air Australia going under. The biggest risk is international travel with airlines such as Oasis Hong Kong, XL, Zoom, and Silverjet becoming recent casualties of a competitive industry and high oil prices.
A “Travel Service Provider” means any scheduled service airline, hotel and resort operator, accommodation provider, motor vehicle rental or hire agency, bus line, shipping line, or railway company.
Policies generally do not cover the insolvency of any travel agent, tour wholesaler and tour operator or booking agent, so make sure you choose a secure agent or operator for making your travel arrangements and spend a bit of time researching them online for any signs or articles that suggest instability.
Always make sure your policy covers “Travel Service Provider” insolvency.