By Darren Faulder
Taking a holiday or business trip is usually quite straightforward. Most of the time, you buy your tickets, fork out a bit extra for travel insurance (because it’s just what people say you should do) and jump on the plane. But what happens when something goes wrong, and that safety-net insurance policy you bought actually needs comes in to play?
Many people’s first reaction to realising they have to make a travel insurance claim is slight panic – what evidence and documentation do you need? Does your situation even warrant a claim? What happens if it all falls through? Don’t worry – there are a few basic things you need to remember, and if you can do that, all should work out fine.
Who do I Contact, and When?
Depending on what it is exactly you’re claiming, you have differing amounts of time to act. Before you leave on your trip, you should take two copies of your travel insurance details, packed in separate places. This should contain the full name of the travel insurance company, the policy you chose, the dates you’re covered for, full contact details, and most importantly your unique policy number. More often than not, the company will provide you with a handy wallet-sized card with all of this information. If in doubt, take as much information as possible.
Generally, the sooner you contact your insurance company the better. In cases of medical emergency this is important. In non-life threatening cases, and where you don’t have full details of your policy with you, it might be best to contact the company to see if you’re covered before you opt for whatever insanely expensive treatment you may need. Due to the higher costs involved, your company needs to know ASAP. They will obviously also need to be contacted ASAP if you need to be evacuated home, such as from an area where you may not be able to get quality care.
If, on the other hand, you’ve lost or had something stolen, you generally don’t need to contact anyone from the company until you get home – and you often have up to a month to get around to this. What you do need to do, however, is report all theft to the local police, and obtain a report of the ‘crime’ in question. Be aware, in developing countries with high numbers of foreign tourists, this is seen by many police as a waste of their time – you might have to slip the officer in question a few bills to get anything done. (Incidentally, this won’t be covered.)
If you’re lucky enough to have your luggage lost by an airline, bus company or even hotel, try and obtain a report from them admitting culpability. Without this, your company may dispute your claim. The people who lost your goods may offer a private settlement themselves – get this written down as well.
Where’s the Proof?
Large numbers of people take out travel insurance, and, feeling slightly annoyed that they haven’t been the victim of a mugging or hostel robbery, attempt to claim that aging analogue camera as stolen. To claim, you must present proof of ownership. This is often easily done by showing the receipt for the item, but as many people simply don’t keep receipts that long, other methods are accepted; bank or credit card statements, warranty cards, even photographic evidence can be used to show that you owned a given item. If you can’t provide anything whatsoever, you may not be able to claim. Check your policy. And if they think you’re telling porkies, they might just investigate your case further – you’ve been warned.
In the case of purchases that had to be made (medical treatment, taxis when you missed your connecting bus due to a delayed flight, quick flight home due to civil war unexpectedly breaking out, etc), keep the receipt, and be prepared to present credit card statements and possibly contact details of the organisation in question.
How Long do I Wait?
Generally speaking, a simple claim on a stolen item should not take very long. Companies differ, but most will process a claim in around ten days if they have all the details they need, they will either say no, or send you a cheque. If your claim is, in their eyes, dubious for any reason, it may take longer. In cases where large amounts are to be paid out, such as those which have arisen due to medical expenditure, the gathering of all the relevant proof and information may itself take some time – you might just have to be patient.
This article has been brought to you by Travel Insurance Direct, providers of reliable online Travel Insurance for travelling Australians. Fore more information on seniors travel insurance and cheap travel insurance click the links.