Its often an after thought when booking a trip but good Travel Insurance can be a life saver if things go wrong, especially if you’re thousands of miles away from home.
At the very least a good travel insurance policy buys you a little extra peace of mind. Or is it a false sense of security? With travel insurance companies estimating that up to 10% of claims are fraudulent, how can you be sure that any legitimate claim you make gets paid?
TIP 1 – Take a good look before you buy
You might assume that there’s little difference between most travel insurance policies. In reality, the quality of cover and excesses you’ll have to pay can vary substantially. This might not be a concern now but will be crucial should you make a claim.
Many disputes arise because people think they’re covered but discover too late that they’re never were.
So before you simply opt for the cheapest premium, take a closer look and check that you’re comparing like with like. In particular, be sure to look at:
*The excess: confirm how much of any claim you would have to pay. If the excess is £50 per item that means you have to pay the first £50 of any claim for each item you are claiming for.
*The maximum you claim for individual items.
*What you’re not covered for such as pre-existing medical conditions.
*The level of medical protection you have, particularly in countries like the USA where medical costs can be higher.
*If you’re covered for lost or stolen cash and how much.
*If loss is covered as well as theft.
*If 24-hour emergency assistance is included or optional.
A comprehensive list of insurers can be found in the Travel Insurance Index.
TIP 2 – Take a copy policy document with you
A good travel insurance policy document will confirm the procedures to follow in the event of a claim, what you are covered for and who to call in an emergency.
TIP 3 – Disclose any medical conditions
Like any insurance policy, travel insurance is a contract between you and the insurer based upon “utmost good faith”. This requires you to disclose anything that may affect the acceptance or terms of a policy, any exclusions or its price.
When completing the application form, be open and honest about your medical history and any activities you’re likely to take part in, whether you think they’re risky or not. If in doubt declare it anyway and if possible keep a copy of the form.
TIP 4 – Document your valuable possessions
Take photo’s and keep receipts for expensive items such as jewellery, cameras and designer clothing which you plan to take with you on holiday.
TIP 5 – Report thefts or losses immediately
Any losses or thefts should be reported immediately to the local police. Get an accident report number or similar documentary proof that you’ve officially reported the loss and if you’re on a package holiday, again quickly report the situation to the hotel or travel company rep.
If your bag is lost, stolen or damaged at the airport, report it immediately and get a receipt from the airline or baggage handler.
TIP 6 – Be prepared for medical claims
Previous E111 forms have now been replaced by the European Health Insurance Card which entitles the holder to free medical treatment within Europe equivalent to that available on the NHS. Application forms are available from Post Offices and should be submitted at least ten days before you travel.
Before you leave check your policy document or contact the insurer to confirm what precise steps your insurance company requires you to take in a medical emergency.
TIP 7 – When you get home
If you intend to make a claim, check the small print and contact your insurer. Gather and submit all supporting documentation via recorded delivery (keeping copies for yourself) as evidence of your claim. Submit receipts, photographs and copies of any police or medical reports you have received.
Makes sure you keep copies all correspondence and make detailed records of every phone call, including the name of the person you spoke with and the time of your call.
TIP 8 – If your claim is refused?
Your claim could be rejected for many reasons. For example most policies won’t cover alcohol-related incidents and like all insurance you must take ‘reasonable’ care of your belongings.
The first step is to appeal against the decision providing detailed and specific points for your arguement backed up by any additional evidence. If you feel you have been poorly treated you can refer your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service who will assess your claim independently.
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