Step-by-step guide: Submitting a travel insurance claim
1. Gather necessary documents
Your insurer will require documents that verify and support your claim, so your first task is to gather the necessary documents. There are generally three categories of document you will need – reports and statements, receipts, and photographs.
If you are claiming for items that were stolen, you will need to submit a police report. Be sure to file a police report within 24 hours of the loss of your item, and obtain a copy for your insurer.
For damaged or lost luggage and personal belongings, you should make a report to the airline and keep a copy to file your claims. The same goes for flight delays and cancellations – you can get an airline statement online in lieu of a report.
You will also need to obtain a report from hotels or tour operators should you need to claim for prepaid accommodation bookings or attraction tickets that you can no longer use due to hazards or closures.
For trip cancellations, postponement or curtailment due to illness, you’ll need to submit a medical certificate or doctor’s report certifying your state of health.
Next up are receipts, which you will need to include when claiming for personal items, such as laptops and mobile phones. If you are unable to locate the original receipts, your insurer may accept bank or credit card statements.
Note that your insurer may apply their own assessment to the value of your items – such as for wear and tear – so including receipts may not necessarily mean you will receive full compensation.
And thirdly, photographs. Remember to include snapshots where applicable to support your claim. Some examples include photos of the damage caused to your items, broken locks on doors that led to theft, etc.
2. Submit your claims
Once you’ve gathered the necessary documents, the next step is to file and submit your claim.
You can do this online at your insurer’s website, over email, or download a form and submit a hard copy via post – whichever is applicable.
After submission, check in with your insurer to ensure they have received your claim. This is important as your insurer may only honour claims submitted within a certain duration – commonly, within 30 days of the event.
If your claim somehow goes missing, you may have to fight your insurer’s bureaucracy to get your claims processed.
3. Wait for the outcome of your claim
Your insurer will process your claim and inform you of the outcome.
If your insurer accepts your claim, you will receive a payout. The amount may be adjusted according to the insurer’s own assessment, and if you feel the payout is too low, you can contact your insurer for an appeal.
If your insurer rejects your claim, they will inform you of the reasons why. If the cause is rectifiable – such as missing supporting documents, for example – you can try submitting your claim again after making the necessary adjustments.
Things to note about insurance claims for travel inconveniences
Your travel insurance policy acts as a last resort
You won’t find this widely advertised – and for good reason too – but travel insurance policies are usually meant as a last resort.
What this means is that insurers only step in after you have tried to claim compensation from the primary parties involved, such as airlines, hotels and tour operators.
Of course, it is not always possible to request for compensation from these parties – such as when severe weather forces an airport lockdown.
However, where applicable, insurers will direct claimants to first approach the primary parties before looking into your claim. This can cause your claim to be delayed.
Travel insurance is not made for high value items
Be aware that mass market travel insurance policies are unlikely to offer sufficient coverage for high value or expensive items.
For instance, many policies set the sub-limit for laptops and tablets at S$1,000, which is only enough for basic devices or those with low-end configurations. Gaming laptops, DSLR cameras, the latest iPhone or iPad – just to name a few popular devices – all cost much more than that.
Similarly, your travel insurance plan comes with sub-limits for jewellery, clothes, accessories and cash, which means you may not be able to claim the full value of your S$3,000 Italian leather coat, even if your plan offers up to S$5,000 coverage for luggage and personal items.
If you absolutely need to travel with expensive items, consider insuring them via a specialised plan designed for high value belongings.