An essential item I’ll be taking on holiday is a travel insurance policy. I’ve claimed twice in the past two years, as regular readers will know: once for cancellation due to illness and once for a lost Kindle. Both times the insurer paid out.
You can save by visiting comparison websites and picking the most keenly priced policy. However, I would really stress that cheapest isn’t always best. The less you spend, the less insurance you get, it’s a fact.
‘Free’ insurance with your bank account or credit card might not be as comprehensive as you’d wish. So make sure the full cost of your holiday is covered (some policies only go up to £2,000 or less). Also buy the policy at the time you book the holiday, not just before you jet off, so that you’ll be insured if you need to cancel.
Here are a few reasons why claims are rejected and how to avoid them. I’ve had a little help compiling them from GoCompare and InsureMyTrip.
1. Not telling the insurer about a current medical condition
This is such a common reason why insurers won’t pay out – because you had the illness or condition before you went away. You must declare absolutely everything (for all travellers) including any medication you have recently been prescribed even if you aren’t taking it at the time eg sleeping or backache pills. For those with annual policies, it’s worth recapping with your insurer as events may have moved on by the end of the year from when you took the policy out.
2. Reason for cancellation is not covered by policy
Deaths or illnesses of distant relatives are normally not covered as a reason for cancellation. Read the small print carefully if this could be a factor in whether you travel or not.
3. Not following the procedure when you fall ill
You must seek medical advice if you fall ill abroad as this will be proof you were actually sick. You must also follow the insurer’s instructions which may include getting receipts or calling a helpline BEFORE you get treated.
4. No paperwork
To file a theft or loss, you must produce evidence that you owned the item in the first place, preferably a receipt. However, insurers may accept manuals for electrical goods or photos as evidence of ownership – check your policy. You should also get a police report as soon as possible. Don’t leave this until you get home. Some insurers demand you report a theft within a certain period of time or will reject your claim.
5. Too much alcohol
An insurer may well turn down your claim if you were drunk at the time the accident or robbery happened.
6. Adventurous sport isn’t covered
One of my past policies deemed kayaking off the beach too dangerous to be covered. As I knew this would be a major part of the holiday, I had to upgrade. Scuba, quad-biking, motorbiking and being hauled along behind a boat on an inflatable banana are often excluded too…
7. Travelling against advice
Most insurers don’t consider claims from countries which the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or the World Health Organisation advise against visiting.
8. Sent the wrong form
It sounds obvious but make sure you’ve filled in the right claim form and submitted the correct supporting documentation such as GP letter, police report and so on.
See our SMM guide to picking the right travel insurance here.