Passport cover on travel insurance

If your passport is lost or stolen it can be expensive to replace - find out the sort of things travel insurance will and won't offer compensation for.

Key points

  • Most, but not all, travel insurance policies cover some of the costs associated with obtaining emergency travel documents when abroad
  • Cover levels vary widely, so read your terms and conditions with care
  • You're unlikely to find a policy covering the cost of replacing your passport when you return to the UK
  • Make sure you know what to do if your passport is lost or stolen

Losing your passport abroad can be an expensive and time-consuming misfortune.

What's more arranging 'emergency passports' - more properly known as emergency travel documents, or ETDs - to get you back to the UK can take several days out of your trip.

When Gocompare.com researched the figures in October 2015 it found that obtaining ETDs abroad would cost £95 (or the equivalent in local currency), while replacing an adult passport back in the UK would then cost a further £72.50.

What's more, the unfortunate traveller would have also had to pay for any travel costs to the embassy or consulate, new passport photographs and any replacement visas needed for the journey.

If the embassy or consulate was some distance away from their base, they may have had to arrange additional accommodation while the relevant paperwork was processed.A tourist wheeling a suitcase

Such unwanted hassle is, unfortunately, a commonplace feature of overseas trips.

Between April 2014 and March 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provided 37,890 emergency travel documents to UK holidaymakers overseas, while over 20,600 passports were reported as lost or stolen.[1]

Insurance cover if your passport is lost or stolen

Most travel insurance policies provide some sort of cover for the costs associated with obtaining emergency travel documents while you're abroad.

Policies don't, though, generally cover the cost of replacing your passport when you return to the UK.

The FCO advises travellers to take two photocopies of their passport, to leave one with someone at home and to take the other with you, keeping it separate from the original
Tom Lewis, Gocompare.com

Any passport cover that is offered is typically subject to exclusions; insurers will expect you to treat your passport as a valuable and to keep it safe.

In practice, this is likely to mean you keeping the passport on your person, or in a locked room or safe.

You're unlikely to be covered if the passport is stolen if it's been left unattended.

This could include, for example, if it's left in a locked, parked car - although there may be exceptions if the passport was stowed out of sight in a boot or another storage compartment.

On 21 September, 2015, Gocompare.com reviewed 636 annual travel insurance policies and 631 single-trip policies listed on the matrix of independent financial researcher Defaqto.

This analysis revealed that 10% of single-trip policies and 9% of annual policies excluded cover for costs associated with lost and stolen passports.

Of those policies that did offer passport cover, 21% limited payouts to between £50 and £150 a person.European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

A total of 73% of annual policies and 72% of single-trip ones covered between £200 and £500, while 10% of annual policies and 6% of single-trip ones provided cover levels between £600 and £5,000.

What to do if your passport is lost or stolen

If your passport is lost or stolen, you'll need to:

  • Obtain a report from the local police within 24 hours (the written report will be needed to obtain emergency travel documents)
  • Notify your insurer within a specific time frame (typically 24 hours)
  • Cancel your old passport to stop someone else from using it

Remember to obtain and keep receipts for whatever expenses you incur as a result of the loss - these will be required if you want to make an insurance claim.

Expert opinion

"Losing your passport abroad can ruin your holiday and leave you seriously out of pocket," said Gocompare.com's Tom Lewis.

"Your passport provides proof of your identity, so if it's badly damaged - if, for example, as a result of water damage the information and/or photo becomes less clear, or the electronic chip is damaged - you may not be able to use it.

"We would urge holidaymakers to keep their passports safe. While you're travelling, keep it in a secure bag or inside pocket. If you don't need it with you - for example if you're spending a day on the beach - leave it in a hotel safe.

"The FCO advises travellers to take two photocopies of their passport, to leave one with someone at home and to take the other with you, keeping it separate from the original.

"If you're unfortunate enough to be parted from your passport, the copy documents will help the process of obtaining new documents quickly and easily."

By Sean Davies