Travel insurance claims

Let's hope this is just some useful background reading but here is some info to help you be travel insurance claims savvy.

Before you go...

  • Make sure you know what you are (and not) covered for and be honest with your insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions
  • Photocopy your travel insurance policy and any receipts for the belongings you're taking with you. Keep the original copy with you and give the photocopy to a friend at home for safe keeping

While you're away...

  • Keep the receipts of any new items you purchase to prove ownership
  • Report any theft to the local police within 24 hours, and make sure you get a copy of the police report to show to your insurer
  • If you have a medical incident call the travel insurer's medical assistance hotline. Pronto!

When you get back...

  • Contact your travel insurer and complete a claim form
  • Include any documentation, receipts, police reports etc to help support the claim
  • Make a copy of the claim for your records
  • Submit the claim with your insurer and wait for the settlement
  • If there is a dispute you can ask lodge a dispute with the financial ombudsman service

Reasons why travel insurance claims are often rejected

It’s every traveller’s nightmare, going to the trouble of paying for travel insurance only to find out that when you go to submit a claim you’re told, “Sorry, you’re going to have to cover that $10,000 medical bill on your own, your insurance doesn’t cover it.”

The reality is that most legitimate travel insurance claims will be paid BUT before you travel be sure that you read up on your particular policies exclusions. You can easily avoid this happening to you, here is the top reasons many insurance claims are rejected.

1. Forgot to lodge an official police report

You don’t only need to file a police report if your belongings were stolen, even if you lose something you should get an official report detailing where and when you last had the item. This includes sunglasses by the pool. Without official documentation you run the risk of your claim being rejected.

2. Unattended - what does that mean?

Some insurance policies will cover you for ‘lost or stolen’ articles while on your person but others will only cover items if they are stolen. Look out for the “unattended” exclusion. If you leave your wallet on the beach while you go swimming, your bag in the hotel lobby or phone on the pool daybed you could find yourself in trouble as this will be considered as leaving your good unattended and claims that occur because of this could be denied.

3. Timely lodgement of claims

While you don’t have to lodge a claim the minute the plane touches back down on Australian soil, don’t wait too long before lodging your claim. Many insurers will only accept claims lodged within 30 days after returning from your trip.

4. Stopover destination wasn’t included in cover

If you’re stopping off in Hong Kong on your way to Italy be sure that you buy an insurance policy that will cover you for both destinations just in case something happens, otherwise any claims made during that trip will be rejected.

5. Proof of purchase

If you are claiming compensation for items lost or damaged, you’ll need to show the insurer that you owned these items in the first place. Keep copies of receipts, or if you’ve own the items for a while photograph your luggage and jewelry items before packing so that if you need to show proof of ownership you can.

6. Right level of cover

Maybe you were not intending on doing bungy jumping when you first planned that holiday to NZ and you got caught up in the moment. But if you don’t have the right level of cover and you’re injured you could find that you’ll be the one footing the medical bills not the travel insurer.

Read your Product Disclosure Statement thoroughly before you purchase a travel insurance policy to ensure that it matches the needs of your trip.

7. Excess

Generally the higher excess you’re willing to pay the cheaper your insurance policy will be but if you end up with having to pay a high excess it might be more than the item you want to claim. Also be aware that you’ll need to pay the excess for every event you make a claim for so if you are claiming for a stolen bag and a trip to the doctor, if the excess was $100 per event you’d be up for $200 excess.

If you don’t want to pay an excess fee, you can get a policy that includes an excess waiver but this will generally mean you’ll need to pay a higher premium.

8. Failed to disclose existing conditions. It really is important to be upfront about any pre-existing conditions. This includes things like asthma, pregnancy and other medical conditions. The chances are that you’ll be covered but if you fail to disclose this information and something does happen you could have your claim denied.

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