Consumers buy travel insurance for financial protection in case something goes wrong while they're abroad. But even if you have travel insurance, you may feel a sense of anxiety wondering if your insurance company will really cover a claim, should one arise.
Lost baggage would be costly enough—imagine the financial repercussions of a medical emergency while abroad. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recently estimated that you could have to work for over 25 years to cover the cost of falling ill while abroad without insurance.
While buying travel insurance is a relatively quick and easy process, getting a claim approved can prove more difficult and time consuming. It is worth learning the rules surrounding documentation and claims procedure for your particular insurance company, as each has its own set of requirements.
Odds of Success: Will Your Claim be Approved?
The most recent ABI data shows that 87% of travel insurance claims receive a payout. The most common reasons that claims were denied are as follows:
- Cancellation falling outside of the scope of cover
- Failure to declare a pre-existing medical condition
- Inadequate proof for lost items
- Claims below policy excess
In 2016, £197 million was paid out by travel insurers for emergency medical treatment and another £128 for cancellations, making up the bulk of the £365 paid out in travel insurance claims overall. Per claimant, insurers paid out £1,906 on average for medical expenses—having a valid claim denied can be very costly, indeed.
Tips for Getting Travel Insurance Claims Approved
So you don't fall into the 13% of travel insurance claims which are denied, there are steps you can take to increase the chances that a valid claim will be approved. Besides disclosing pre-existing medical conditions and being aware of excesses and the scope of cover, it is critical to have the proper documentation in place.
Generally speaking, original receipts and bills are required as is an official report (from police, airline or medical practitioner, as applicable). While each insurer had different requirements, here are examples of what documentation may be required, depending on the type of claim:
|Type of Claim||Possible Documentation Requirements|
|Loss or theft claims||Police Report, original receipt/proof of ownership|
|Loss or damage to belongings while in care of an airline||Carrier's Report or Property Irregularity Report, travel tickets and luggage receipts (given to you when you checked in), plus written confirmation from carrier if your belongings are permanently lost|
|Loss of cash||Police report and withdrawal slips|
|Medical expenses||Details of the illness or injury plus original bills and receipts for any expenses you paid|
|Cutting a trip short/cancelling due to illness||Doctor's certificate|
Going to the police station in a foreign country and to report a theft may be an unpleasant experience, but it is a crucial step if you want your claim to be approved.
Additionally, you should keep receipts for any purchase that is significant enough for you to claim against, in the case of loss, theft or damage. If you do not have original purchase receipts, it's a good idea to record the serial numbers of high-value items like laptops and cameras before your trip. You can also take time-stamped photographs of your valuables.
Why Does it Seem the Insurers Make it Difficult to Claim?
While it may feel like insurers make it too difficult to have a claim approved, they do so to protect against fraudulent claims. According to the ABI, over the entire insurance industry £1.3 billion of fraudulent claims were discovered in 2016.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, many claimants provide fake documents and/or inflate claim amounts. As a result, the burden of proof is high before a claim will be approved. Obtain and provide as much documentation as possible in order to prove your claim—not only is your claim more likely to be approved, but the process will be quicker.