Having a travel insurance plan is only useful if your claim goes through. Follow these 7 key steps for faster travel insurance claims.
One of the main worries about travel insurance is the claims process.
Sure, a policy might have great coverage and low premiums; but come crunch time, will the pay out materialise? And will you get the money quickly, or a whole year down the road?
We’ll let you in on a secret: the key to successful claims starts before the claim.
Key Steps to Help Your Travel Insurance Claim
Here’s what you need to do, to help your claim get through fast:
- Get the necessary contact details
- Take pictures of your luggage
- Travel with items that 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. Get the Necessary Contact Details
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 agent you bought the insurance from; it doesn’t really matter, just so long as you can find it in a pinch.
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 are unconscious from an accident), they can reach out on your behalf.
2. Take Pictures of Your Luggage
Always snap a picture of your luggage, along with the luggage tags. Also snap a picture of any valuables, such as laptops and cameras, so that 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 pictures to the airport staff. It is quicker for them to identify your luggage from a picture, than from a written description.
3. Travel with Items That You Have Receipts For
An insurer may require you to provide them with 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 watch, 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 simply 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 am – 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, do contact your insurer before seeing a doctor. This is because some medical institutions may be preferred by your insurer – the claims process may go a lot smoother, if you use these select hospitals and clinics.
In addition, you can clarify earlier on if 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 want 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 investigation (which they may not be willing to do).
Rather than fighting with the 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. Avoid Alcohol Consumption While Abroad
Alcohol always complicates insurance claims. Most travel insurance will not pay out if you get injured/lose your belongings while intoxicated. In some cases, even drinking a single can of beer might void your claim. Don’t assume you can hide this from an insurer, as they often ask any consulting doctors/police officers whether you’d been drinking.
As far as possible, try to avoid going on drunken binges while abroad. While it may make for a fun night, it may also void for your insurance for any subsequent accidents. To be safe, avoid alcohol before activities like skiing, or driving your rental car (even if it was just one beer).
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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.