Making a travel insurance claim can feel daunting. Traditionally, insurers had complicated claims processes which almost looked like they’d been designed to put people off filing for a payout… (We’re not saying anything… 🤐)
While this process has now been streamlined and travel insurers are generally better at fulfilling their duties, it’s still a nerve-wracking experience. The questions you have to answer and the hoops you have to jump through can make you feel like you’re being investigated for using a service you’ve paid for!
To help take some of the stress out of the situation, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide, crammed full of tips on how to make a successful travel insurance claim!
This is just a general guide. You should always familiarise yourself with the claims process of your specific insurance company. It’ll be laid out in your policy wording or description of coverage.
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Related: (opens in new tab)
- When To Buy Travel Insurance
- SafetyWing Nomad Insurance Review
- The Best Travel Insurance for Backpackers
Make a Travel Insurance Claim: Step by Step!
Step 1 — Make Sure Your Insurance Covers What You’re Claiming for
You must be claiming for an insured reason. If you’re claiming for trip cancellations or interruptions, know that you’re likely only covered for non-refundable elements. If your hotel or flight is refundable, claim it back from the airline or property. Your insurance will not cover this. However, if it’s not refundable, and is still covered, then your insurance will pay out.
Knowing exactly what you’re covered for is one of the most important factors in choosing travel insurance. It means you can get the most suitable cover and ensures you don’t waste time attempting to make a claim that will never be paid.
Step 2 — Contact Your Insurance Company ASAP
If you require medical treatment or evacuation, contact your insurer as soon as possible, so they can agree to the treatment or transportation. While it’s not always possible in an emergency, the best practice is to get the okay from your insurer before accepting help.
Of course, if you can’t talk to them, don’t turn help down. Just be aware that getting the all-clear from your insurance company first is often much faster than dealing with the claim later down the line!
Make sure you have all the insurance company’s contact details with you while you travel. Ideally, you should have both digital and hard copies, as well as copies saved online that you can access from any device.
When you contact your insurer, they’ll want to know what’s happened. Be honest and give them all the details they ask for. Try to keep the information succinct and relevant initially but if they ask you to expand on anything, do so without holding anything back.
Step 3 — Gather Any Required Paperwork
Regardless of your insurance company’s claims process, you’ll need to gather all your supporting evidence together as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’ve been the victim of crime while abroad.
You’re expected to report any crimes to the police within 24 hours of them taking place. If this is impossible, you’ll need to prove why; no police station, police station closed, etc. You’ll also need to demonstrate that you did tell someone about the crime – a hotel or hostel manager, tour guide or trip rep will often suffice as long as you can get written evidence from them.
If your claim isn’t crime related, you’ll need to keep all receipts, doctors’ notes and medical records.
Unless specifically asked for originals, always send copies of this paperwork to your insurer. Keep the original documents in a safe place!
Step 4 — Follow Your Insurance Company’s Claims Process
Usually, your insurer will pay large bills directly which saves extra stress but pay attention to their instructions so you understand the process.
For smaller claims, you may need to pay upfront in some instances. This will usually be no more than $2000USD (varies between insurers) and you can claim the money back when you get home. If you are insured with a company that operates this way then make sure you keep all receipts and evidence of costs, so you can make a successful claim later – throw nothing away!
Don’t leave it too long before making your claim though. Most insurers have a window for making claims. If you don’t file a claim within this time, you won’t be able to. Make sure you know and understand the time restrictions and make your claim well within the stipulated period.
Your insurance company will send you or direct you to a claim form which must be filled in carefully and returned with supporting evidence. Be prepared for any excess you need to pay and remember that if your claim is less than the excess, it’s not worth making!
Good to Know: Do You Have a New for Old Policy?
If so, your insurer will replace lost or stolen items that are insured, with new versions. However, if it’s not a new for old policy, your insurer will take into account wear and tear and their algorithms will work out the value of said items. This means you may get less than the cost of replacing your belongings.
Step 5 — Sit Back and Wait
Once you’ve followed the above steps, all you can do is sit and wait. A good insurance company won’t make you wait long unless they have reason to believe you’ve lied to them, or your claim is particularly complicated.
Why Might My Travel Insurance Claim Be Rejected?
- You missed the deadline
- Your destination wasn’t covered
- You didn’t get the right insurance
- You were intoxicated
- You don’t get the right documents (police reports, receipts, etc)
- You didn’t declare a relevant pre-existing medical condition when purchasing your policy
Having Problems With Making a Travel Insurance Claim?
When having problems making a claim, it feels like banging your head against a wall. But don’t give up, there are a few things you can do.
All travel insurance companies have an appeals process you can use if you disagree with their decision. If you think they’ve unfairly denied your claim, use this. The process will be outlined on their website and in your policy wording or description of coverage.
If the appeal doesn’t work, the next step is to make an official complaint to the company using its complaints process. This will also be outlined on their website (although it’s often hidden deep in a dusty corner somewhere), as well as in your policy wording or description of coverage. You should give your insurer up to eight weeks to reply to your complaint.
If, after eight weeks have passed, you have not heard from your insurer or a decision has not been made then you can ask for a letter of deadlock. This letter, from the insurer, confirms that you have been unable to reach an agreement over the complaint.
With this letter, you can raise a case with the Ombudsman (or equivalent in your country). They will look closely into the case and rule on one side or the other. Whatever decision they make, your insurance company has to abide by. However, you do not. If you still disagree with the decision you can take it to court. However, this can be a very long, stressful and expensive process – especially if you lose!
Top Tips for Making a Travel Insurance Claim Recapped
- Choose a good travel insurance provider to start with!
- Keep both hard and digital copies of the policy number and emergency contact information for your insurer.
- Store digital copies in a cloud service you can access from any device, as well as offline copies on your phone, tablet or computer.
- If you need to call your insurer, be aware that they may have different claim lines depending on the country you’re calling from. Get all the correct numbers before travelling.
- While explaining your situation to the travel insurance company, keep the information short and succinct unless asked to elaborate. You don’t know who you are talking to, where they are from or even if English is their first language. Keep it simple to start with.
- When making a claim, stay calm. It’s a stressful time but to make it as smooth as possible you need to be able to take the information you’re given onboard and react efficiently.
- If possible, get your insurer to agree to medical treatments before you have them. Insurers often have high-quality treatment centres they recommend.
- Report lost or stolen belongings to the police ASAP. This often needs to be within 24 hours. If you’re unable to do so, you need to prove why – a closed police station for example. In this instance, you need to let someone in authority know (hotel manager, tour rep, etc.)
- Know how much your excess is – it’s not worth claiming if your excess is higher than the value of your claim.
- Always tell the truth during a travel insurance claim.
- Lost baggage claims should be covered by your airline. If they’re not, move on to your travel insurer. However, you’ll need proof that your airline won’t pay out. Keep all tickets, tags and receipts as evidence.
- When choosing travel insurance, make sure the company is easy to contact (24/7 phone numbers or online chat).
- Look into an individual insurance provider’s claims process before purchasing insurance – also check reviews on how other people have found the claims process. You can often find travellers discussing insurance in our Facebook community!
Claiming on Travel Insurance FAQs
Do travel insurance companies pay out?
Yes, travel insurance companies pay out when the claim is legitimate. In 2018, British travel insurers paid out nearly £400 million in claims! They are required by law to pay for legitimate claims and not doing so risks them getting into hot water with the authorities. However, they have lots of legal ways of delaying or avoiding paying for a claim. Make sure you understand their claims process and provide them with all the relevant information as soon as possible.
What documents do I need to make a travel insurance claim?
It’s good practice to take photos of your valuables and make copies of receipts before you travel. If you’re a victim of crime, you’ll need copies of the police reports. If you’re claiming for medical expenses, you’ll need doctors’ notes and medical records, as well as receipts for anything you already paid for. For all other expenses, you’ll also need receipts. There is no such thing as too much evidence so document everything when making a claim.
How to Claim on Travel Insurance – A Round-Up
Making a travel insurance claim can be stressful but in the long run, it’s less stressful than not claiming. Follow the steps and advice in this article to make the process as smooth as possible for both you and your insurer!
Do you have any advice that might help travellers making a claim? Let us know in the comments!
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