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Over packed but under insured?

14 July 2014

Holidaymakers urged to check travel insurance policy limits and not just bag the cheapest deal

  • Average holidaymaker packs £967 worth of clothes, accessories and valuables
  • Men’s cases contain on £1,004 worth of goods compared with £932 for women
  • Typically, insurers limit single item claims to between £200 to £300
  • The travel insurance limit for the possessions cover varies hugely between policies - ranging from £200 to £10,000

Brits jetting off on a foreign holiday pack around £1,000 worth of clothes, accessories, toiletries and valuables, including jewellery and electronic gadgets, according to new research released today.  But, if their luggage is lost or stolen, many could find themselves hundreds of pounds out of pocket if they’ve checked-in their baggage without first checking-out their travel insurance. Travel Insurance asked over 1,350 people who holiday abroad to estimate the collective value of the items they take with them.  The survey revealed that while holidaymakers typically travel with £967 worth of possessions, many are packing far more:

  • 29% estimate that they take over £1,000 worth of possessions on holiday;
  • 18% thought the contents of their luggage was worth over £1,500;
  • On average, men stuff their holiday bags with £1,004 worth of items - £72 more than women.

But if they don’t check their travel insurance small print, many holidaymakers could find themselves hundreds of pounds out of pocket if their bags are lost or stolen.  A comparison of over 1,000* travel insurance policies by found an enormous variation in the cover limits available.

Baggage cover: The vast majority of travel insurance policies provide cover for your luggage but, the overall limit for the value of your possessions varies hugely between different policies - ranging from £200 to £10,000.  Typically the total cover limit for baggage is £1,500, but 7% of annual and 6% of single-trip polices don’t provide any cover. 8% of annual and 10% of single-trip policies only cover luggage up to £800 while 20% of annual and a quarter (25%) of single-trip policies provide cover up to £1,500.

Baggage excess: Depending on the policy you buy, the amount you will have to pay towards each claim for lost or stolen baggage is typically £50 or over - but can range from £25 to £250. Just under a quarter (24%) of annual and 27% of single-trip policies have an excess of £100 or over.

Single article limit: Most policies limit the amount you can claim for a single item, with cover varying from £100 to £2,500, but the majority have a limit of between £200 and £300.

Valuables limit: Pay-outs for lost or stolen valuables - such as photographic equipment, electronic gadgets, computers, iPads, jewellery and watches - are limited to between £100 and £2,500 depending on the policy bought.  The highest amount of cover under the policies reviewed was £2,500 for annual and £1,000 for single-trip policies, but most only provide £100 to £450 worth of cover.

Caroline Lloyd from Travel Insurance commented: “While travel insurance primarily covers the cost of unexpected medical treatment and repatriation if you fall ill or are injured abroad, most policies also include cover for lost or stolen possessions.  However, cover limits, excesses and exclusions for holiday baggage vary widely from policy to policy, so it’s essential that you read the policy terms and conditions to find a policy with the level of cover you need – rather than just opting for the cheapest.

“When you’re choosing which items to pack, bear in mind that most travel insurers don’t pay-out baggage claims on a new for old basis.  They make allowance for wear and tear and will only pay-out the amount the item was worth when it was lost or stolen.  And most limit the amount that they will pay-out for a single item – typically in the range of £200 to £300. 

“Cover for valuable or ‘high-risk’ items, such as jewellery or small, high-value electronics - which are particularly attractive to thieves, is also restricted.  You usually need cover for these items all year round - not just when you go abroad on holiday, so they are usually insured by home contents or other specialist insurance, not travel insurance.  So if you’re planning on taking valuables on holiday, it would be wise to check your existing insurances to make sure these items are covered away from home and top-up your insurance as necessary.    

“Finally, remember that while you are on holiday insurers will expect you to take reasonable care to safeguard your possessions against loss, damage or opportunistic thieves.  So pack high-value items, travel documents, passports and other important paperwork in your hand luggage and if your hotel or apartment has a safe, use it.”   


Notes to editors:

On 17th March 2014, conducted an online survey among 1,355 randomly selected British adults aged 18+ who are Springboard UK panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.2, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current social grade, age, gender and region data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to cell rounding.

*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 539 annual or multi-trip and 525 single-trip travel insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial research company Defaqto (1 April 2014).

33% of annual and 31% of single-trip policies have a total baggage cover limit of £1,500.

78% of annual and 81% of single-trip policies have a baggage excess of £50 or over.

74% of annual and 79% of single-trip policies provide cover of £100 to £450 for valuables