Having a travel insurance plan is only useful if your travel claim review is approved. Follow these 7 key steps for faster travel insurance claims.
One of the main concerns about travel insurance is the insurance claims review process. A policy might have great coverage and low premiums but come crunch time, is the travel claim review process complex? How quickly will your insurance claim be approved and reimbursed?
We’ll let you in on a secret: the key to a successful travel claim review starts before the claim.
7 key steps to faster travel insurance claims
Here’s what you need to do to help your insurance travel claim reviews get approved quickly:
- Have key contact details on standby
- Take pictures of your luggage
- Travel with items you have receipts for
- Draft a timeline
- Where possible, contact your insurer before seeing a doctor
- Seek alternative documentation
- Avoid alcohol consumption while abroad
1. Have key contact details on standby
Before you get on the plane, make sure you have the contact number for your travel insurer. This can be the 24-hour helpline, or it can be the insurance agent you bought the insurance from.
If you purchased the insurance online, do note the contact details of the website as well (e.g. the helpline or email address).
Ensure that a family member or friend knows the insurer’s contact details. In the off chance that you’re unable to contact the insurer yourself (e.g. you don’t have a data connection or are hospitalised), they can reach out on your behalf.
2. Take pictures of your luggage
Snap and store a picture of your luggage, along with the luggage tags. Also snap a picture of any valuables, such as laptops and cameras, so you can show pictures of any damage when making a claim.
This serves a second purpose. If your luggage is lost, you can show the photos to airport ground staff, who can easily identify your luggage from a photo rather than a written description.
3. Travel with items you have receipts for
An insurer may require you to provide a receipt when you make a claim. This is not universal, but it’s not uncommon either. As such, it’s best to travel with items that you have receipts for.
You can also call your insurer beforehand, and ask how you’d make a claim on, say, your laptop or smartphone, if you have no receipt.
4. Draft a timeline
When writing about incidents such as theft, robbery, or injury, it helps to draft a timeline. This is a point-by-point account of what happened, from the earliest estimated time to the latest. For example:
- 11:35 am: Landed at the airport
- 11:42 am: Saw stranger looking through my luggage, near the baggage collection area. Informed the airport police.
- 12:30pm: Airport police informed me they were unable to catch the stranger. Investigated my luggage and found the lock broken, and my laptop was missing…
And so forth. Timelines make it easy to organise your thoughts, and provide a quick summary for reference. This is an easier way to describe the situation, as opposed to writing about it essay-style.
5. Where possible, contact your insurer before seeing a doctor
If you don’t need instant medical attention, contact your insurer before seeing a doctor. This is because some medical institutions may be preferred by your insurer — the insurance claims review may go a lot smoother if you see these select hospitals and clinics.
In addition, clarify what medical cases you can make a claim. For example, you usually can’t make a claim for dental care if it’s just a toothache; but you can make a claim if you’ve been in an accident, and need critical dental surgery.
6. Seek alternative documentation
Your insurer may require documents that you find difficult to provide. For example, your insurer may want a police report if you were robbed. However, some countries have police forces that will not issue such reports (except internally), or cannot issue a report unless they open an official investigation (which they may not be willing to do).
Rather than arguing with local authorities, ask your insurer if alternative documentation will do. For example, a letter from the Singapore embassy may work in place of a police report.
7. Manage your alcohol consumption
Alcohol always complicates travel insurance claims. Most travel insurance claim reviews will not be approved if you get injured or lose your belongings while intoxicated. In some cases, even drinking a single can of beer might void your claim.
As far as possible, manage your alcohol consumption when abroad. While it may make for a fun night, a drunken binge may void for your travel insurance claim for any subsequent accidents. To be safe, also avoid alcohol before activities like skiing, hiking or diving.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.