Ahead of the summer get-away, Gocompare.com Travel Insurance is advising travellers to make sure they have the right cover for their holiday, or risk being left out of pocket if they need to make a claim.
Alex Edwards from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance explained: “Travel insurance gives you valuable financial protection if your holiday doesn’t go as planned. According to the latest available figures* from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), travel insurers paid out £370m in 581,000 claims to travellers who needed help.
“But insurance is only any good if it pays out when you need it. If something unexpected happens to spoil your trip – such as your flight being cancelled or you needing hospital treatment – then the last thing you want is to have your insurance claim rejected.
“So if you’re heading abroad this summer, getting the right insurance policy - one that covers both you and your holiday plans - is essential. Make sure you read the policy wording so you understand what is and what isn’t covered. Be honest when applying for cover and when submitting a claim. Withholding information on your medical history, for example, may mean that you are not fully insured and could leave you picking up a hefty hospital bill. This way, you will have the best possible chance of success if you’re unlucky enough to need to make a claim.”
1. Buy the right policy for you and your holiday
Tempting as it may be, buying the cheapest policy could prove a costly mistake. Rather than just focusing on price, you need to choose a policy which provides the level of cover you need, for the activities you want to undertake.
Baggage and belongings: Not all policies cover lost or delayed luggage. Of those policies that do, cover and excess levels vary enormously. So it’s essential you check to make sure you’ve got the cover you need. If you plan to travel with valuable items (e.g. cameras, electronic gadgets, computers, iPads, expensive jewellery or watches) check the policy limits to make sure you’re fully insured.
Adventurous activities: Policies have varying degrees of cover for sports and adventurous activities. If you're planning on carrying out such activities, read the terms and conditions carefully. It's possible, for example, that a policy may cover you for recreational cycling but not mountain biking or cycle touring. Make sure you follow any required safety procedures, such as wearing a crash helmet, otherwise you could invalidate your cover.
Excesses, conditions and exclusions: One reason claims can be rejected is due to the incident or the value of the claim not being covered by the policy. So make sure you can afford the policy excesses (the amount you have to contribute to any claim) and, that you are aware of any conditions or exclusions that may apply.
Common travel insurance policy exclusions include claims made as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, reckless behaviour, treatment of an undeclared pre-existing medical condition, and for valuables packed in checked-in luggage or left unattended outside of a hotel safe or locked room.
Your travel insurance policy document will contain the terms and conditions relating to the policy, including important contact numbers should you need help or to make a claim. Don’t forget to take it with you on your travels.
2. Declare pre-existing medical conditions
The high cost of medical treatment abroad makes medical cover a core element of travel insurance. According to the ABI report*, travel insurers paid out over £4m a day to help people who needed medical treatment abroad.
Travel insurance only protects against the unforeseen, so when applying for cover, be honest about any pre-existing medical conditions (including mental, nervous or emotional disorders) you have – even if they are mild and under control. If, while on holiday, you fall ill with a related illness without declaring an existing condition or any medical referrals or investigations, there’s a good chance your claim will be rejected.
If you have an existing medical condition, then the availability of cover will depend on the nature and severity of your condition and your holiday destination. But in most cases it should still be possible to find a suitable policy. If your condition is minor, it may be covered by a standard policy for an increased premium. Alternatively, a higher excess, or special terms or restrictions, may be applied. Specialist policies are available for more serious conditions.
3. Look after yourself and your belongings
Travel insurers can reject claims if they feel you haven’t taken reasonable care of yourself or your possessions. For example, a claim for medical treatment for a tropical disease which you failed to get the recommended vaccination or medication for is likely to be rejected. Likewise, a claim for a stolen watch, left on a poolside table while you went for a swim. Any losses or claims for treatment of injuries arising from you drinking too much alcohol may also be rejected.
4. Act quickly and follow the procedures
If you need to claim, you should follow the procedures detailed in your policy document and report losses promptly. Your policy document will show your personal policy number and your insurer’s claims helpline number, which you may need to call to register your claim and to discuss what to do next.
Different insurers have their own claims protocols; if you fail to follow these you could invalidate your cover. For example, if you fall ill or have an accident, you should speak to your insurer before arranging medical treatment - unless it is an emergency.
Insurers often put time-limits on notifying losses. For example, if you are a victim of theft, you will usually be required to report the loss to the local police within 24 hours of you being aware of the incident.
Provide as much information as possible to support your claim (e.g. a written police report for a theft claim; written confirmation from your tour operator or carrier of a flight delay or cancellation; receipts for expenses etc.).
5. Honesty is the best policy
When making a claim - don’t exaggerate the value of your losses or tell fibs. If your insurer finds that you’ve been dishonest about any element of your claim, they’re entitled to refuse the whole claim. This could leave you seriously out of pocket and you may have difficulty getting insurance in the future.
Gocompare.com has produced a guide on how to avoid having a travel insurance claim rejected.
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Notes to editors:
*ABI UK Insurance and Long Terms Savings Key Facts 2015 Report.