Travel Insurance Tips
Article by Simon Christopher
Article added: 17/5/2005 - Last updated: -
Rating: 3.80 (15 votes)
Travel insurance is often an after thought when booking your holiday but can be a god send if things go wrong, especially is you're thousands of miles away from home when it does.
At the very least a good travel insurance policy provides a little extra peace of mind allowing you to fully relax whilst away. But is it a false sense of security? With travel insurance companies estimating that up to 10% of claims are fraudulent, how can you ensure that any legitimate claim you make is taken seriously and paid in full?
You can take a number of simple but important precautions to make sure your travel insurance lives up to its promises:
1. Check the cover and smallprint before you buy
Many people assume one travel insurance policy is the same as the next but a lot of disputes arise because people think they're covered and discover too late that they're not. In particular, look out for:
2. Disclose any existing medical conditions
- Excesses: don't just compare premiums check how much of a 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 level of medical protection you have, particularly in countries like the USA where medical costs can be higher.
- What you're not covered for such as pre-existing medical conditions.
- 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.
Your travel insurance policy 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.
Be completely open and honest about your medical history and the activities you're likely to be involved in, whether you think they're hazardous or not. A good rule of thumb is; if in doubt declare it anyway. One of the most common defenses made by insurers when declining a claim is that information was not discolsed or not correctly disclosed. Don't leave them any room for manouvre should a claim arise.
3. Take a copy of the policy documents with you
Most good policy documents will tell you the claim procedures to follow in the event of theft or loss, what you are covered for and most importantly who to call in an emergency.
4. Document any expensive items you take with you
Take photo's and keep receipts for expensive items such as jewellery or cameras you plan to take with you on holiday. Having proof helps enormously if you claim for these high value items
5. Report any thefts or losses quickly
If your possessions are lost or stolen, report it immediately to the local police. Get an accident report number or similar documentary proof that you've reported the loss and if you're on a package holiday, report the theft/loss to the hotel or travel 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.
6. Get the right documents ready for medical claims
The old E111 forms have now been replaced by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 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. This is based upon agreements between EU countries and qualifies visitors for the same medical treatment as local citizens.
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. If you have to buy any treatments or medicines, again keep receipts and original prescriptions if possible.
7. When you get home
Examine the small print, contact your insurer and work out what you can claim for. Submit all supporting documentation via recorded delivery (keeping copies for yourself) as evidence of your claims and feel free to deluge the insurer with receipts, photographs and copies of any police or medical reports you have.
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.
8. What to do if your claim is declined?
Your claim could be declined by the insurer for many reasons but they will examine it against their policy terms and conditions first. For example most policies won't cover alcohol-related incidents and like all insurance you must take 'reasonable' care of your belongings.
Your 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 take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular travel insurance product or provider. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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