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How to make a travel insurance claim

Matt Fernell photo
Written by Matt Fernell, Financial Content Writer

3 May 2018

If something goes wrong on your travels you may need to make a claim on your travel insurance. This step by step guide explains how.

Young travel with backpack sitting by train tracks

What can you claim for?

Most travel insurance policies will cover you for:

  • Lost or stolen baggage

  • Medical expenses including repatriation

  • Cancellation, or if your trip is cut short

  • Costs caused by delays

  • Lost or stolen possessions or cash

You can find out more about what is covered under a travel insurance policy here.

What is travel insurance?

Making a claim

Follow these steps if you need to make a travel insurance claim:

  1. Report any crime to the local police before you make your claim and note down the incident number.

  2. Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Most provide a 24/7 emergency helpline you can call, which will be on your policy document.

  3. Keep receipts and record any evidence that may be needed to process your claim. For example if you have the receipts for any items stolen, or medical certificates if you have gone to hospital.

Your insurer may send you a claims form to complete and return with supporting evidence like photos and receipts.

Most insurers will give you 31 days to make a claim, however you should try to claim as soon as possible, especially if it is for medical expenses.

Exactly what you will need to make your travel insurance claim will be slightly different depending on what you are claiming for:

Delayed flights

If your flight has been delayed for more than a set period (often 12 hours) you can claim for additional costs incurred like food and accommodation.

You will need to keep the receipts for anything you want to claim back, for example a hotel room and meals. You will also need a letter from the airline that confirms the delay, including the reason and length of the delay.

Lost baggage

Your lost baggage should be covered by your airline, but you can also claim through your insurance policy if not. To process a lost baggage claim most insurers will ask:

  • For you to get a Property Irregularity Report from the airline

  • That you give written confirmation of the claim to the airline

  • That you keep all travel tickets and tags and submit them

  • For receipts or proof of ownership of the lost items

If you need to buy replacement clothes, toiletries or medication make sure you keep any receipts to reclaim the cost from your insurer.

Cancellation or curtailment

If you have to cancel your trip before you go, or cut your holiday short, your travel insurance policy should cover the costs you incur.

You will only be covered if you cancel for a reason that is included in your policy, for example:

  • Death

  • Bodily injury

  • Illness of you, any person you are travelling with or a close relative

Here is exactly what is covered if you need to cancel your holiday.

Medical expenses

If you need medical assistance following an injury or illness you should make your insurance claim as soon as possible. If possible contact your insurer to agree to treatment before it is carried out.

If you are travelling with someone else make sure they have copies of your details including your policy number and the contact details so they can make the claim if you are unable to.

If you have to pay up front for any treatment make sure you get a receipt and claim the cost back when you return.

Theft of personal items

You must contact the police straight away if you have anything stolen. You will normally need a police report within the first 24 hours for you to claim.

It can speed up your claim if you have evidence of the items stolen, so make sure you have the receipts, or have taken photos of the items before you travel.

Do you have to pay an excess?

Yes, for most claims you will need to pay an excess of between £50 and £100.

These include claims for:

  • Medical expenses

  • Cancellation, or cutting your holiday short

  • Lost or stolen possessions

  • Personal liability

This means you will have to pay the first part of any of the above claims. If you are receiving a lump sum, what you receive will be less the excess amount.

For example, if you claim for a cancelled holiday that cost £2,000 and the excess is £100, you will receive £1,900 from your insurer.

You may be given the option of waiving the excess when you buy your policy, but this will mean your cover will cost more.

Check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully as you may be charged a higher excess if you are over a certain age, or travelling to a particular destination.

What if your claim is denied?

Look out for exclusions

Check the policy documents carefully to make sure you are covered before you make a claim. Watch out for these exclusions you might miss:

  • Drinking too much: If you are injured whilst under the influence of alcohol your insurance company may reject your claim. Many policies will exclude claims where excessive alcohol consumption is involved, so be careful when drinking on holiday.

  • Not taking 'reasonable care': Your insurer will not pay out if they do not think you have looked after your possessions. For example, if you leave your bags unattended and they are stolen, you may not be covered.

  • Get your vaccinations: Make sure you get any vaccinations that are recommended for your destination. For example, if you contract malaria while on holiday but did not take any anti-malarial medication, your insurer could reject your claim.

Make a complaint

If your claim has been denied, but you have checked your policy and still feel your claim is valid, you should contact your insurer and make a formal complaint.

If your insurer does not overturn their decision, you can refer your complaint to the financial ombudsman, who will independently assess your claim.

Here is a more detailed look at the best ways to complain to your insurer.

How to complain about financial services

Make sure you get the best possible cover when you go away by comparing travel insurance deals. You can find the cover you need at the right price whatever your travel plans.

Compare travel insurance

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