Making a Claim? - How to gain Without the Pain

by : Keith McGregor

This is both irritating and costly when it happens and unless there is very strong mitigating circumstances, insurers are very unlikely to back down. So what can we do to ensure that our claim does not suffer the same fate?

It really is important to read the small print as this will not only tell you what you are and, more importantly, not covered for but will also make you more conscious of what might happen whilst away on holiday and how to deal with it. As they say 'Forearmed is Forewarned,' and it will help ease what otherwise could be a stressful situation if things do go wrong. What are the common errors that make it easier for an insurer to decline a claim?

Pre-existing medical conditions - Have you declared these when taking out your travel insurance policy? And it is not just restricted to you and your travelling companions. Most policies are very strict here and ask you to declare a pre-existing medical condition on anyone who could subsequently get you to cancel or curtail your trip. If you don't declare it and it subsequently appears on the Medical Certificate, which the insurer will ask you and your GP to complete, then it is highly likely that you won't get any money back.

Baggage Claims - For loss, theft and damage, you will be required to get a report within 24 hours of the incident, from either the local police for theft claims, from the airline for lost, damaged or delayed baggage and from the hotel or tour representative, often for all three types of loss. Without these reports, it is probable that your claim will not be upheld. Travel insurance policies also require original receipts to be sent in to prove proof of purchase and to indicate purchase price. As most policies do not offer 'new for old' cover, a depreciation index is applied so what you get back is normally less than what you paid and this index is harsher if no receipts are provided and will be capped at a maximum amount per item (normally around ?60).

Valuables, Money and Personal Effects - Is your mobile phone covered? What about your kids Nintendo Game Boy? These are simple questions but it is too late to assume that they are insured after the event. Valuables and Personal Money have even stricter rules applied to them and need to be looked after with greater care. Money for instance should be in a locked safe if not on your person (a locked drawer in your room is seldom ok. Likewise valuables should NEVER be left in 'checked in' luggage as this will definitely invalidate your claim.

It can be a minefield out there designed to trip up the unwary but with a little bit of preparation before you take out your travel insurance and sensible precautions once on your holiday, you can substantially improve your chances of coming home not out of pocket.