How to avoid travel insurance claim rejections

Having the right travel insurance in place is a holiday must, covering you for cancellations, stolen luggage, medical emergencies and so much more, but claims don’t always end in a payout.

Abbie Laughton-Coles
Abbie Laughton-Coles
Updated 2 December 2022  | 4 min read

Why could my travel insurance claim be rejected?

Unfortunately having travel insurance in place doesn’t give you carte blanche to run amok while abroad. Every policy will have a list of exclusions which will void a claim and they differ between insurers, so you’ll need to take a good look at the terms and conditions before you set off.

Let’s take a look at the common reasons why your travel insurance claim could get rejected.

Key points

  • Failing to tell your insurer about pre-existing medical conditions means you won’t be covered for any medical treatment relating to them while you’re away
  • Routinely check the FCDO website before your departure to make sure it’s safe for you to visit the destination or it could make your policy invalid
  • If you think your claim has been rejected unfairly, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service to review your complaint

Non-disclosure of a pre-existing medical condition

It may be tempting to hide pre-existing conditions to keep the costs down when buying travel insurance, but it could end up being a very costly mistake.

If you had to have medical treatment while you’re away relating to your condition and you haven’t declared it when you bought your policy, your claim will be rejected. So, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket.

Depending on how serious the situation is, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds if you needed emergency surgery or repatriation back to the UK.

The cost of healthcare in countries like the USA and Canada is incredibly high and just being taken to the hospital in an ambulance could result in a bill of over £1,000.

It’s worth getting a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if you’re visiting the European Union as it gives you access to state-provided emergency healthcare while you’re there.

Treatment will either be free or at a reduced cost depending on the country you’re in. This can provide some cover while you’re in Europe, but it still isn’t a replacement for the right travel insurance that covers your pre-existing medical condition.

Lack of documents

Whatever you’re claiming for, you’ll need to provide evidence to the insurer for them to be able to accept it and pay out.

For example, if you’re claiming for medical expenses, you’ll usually need to provide them with a breakdown of the costs and the bill from the hospital.

For stolen belongings, you may be required to send them receipts proving that you owned the items you’re claiming for and how much they cost to purchase.

Theft of property on holiday

Travel insurance will usually cover lost, stolen or damaged luggage while you’re away, but there will be caveats.

If you’ve left your luggage unattended, for example in a hotel lobby or in the back of a car, it could void your claim if something happens to it.

Stolen luggage will need to be reported to the police in the country you’re staying in before you’re able to claim as your insurer will need a crime reference number as evidence.

Certain possessions that you take with you may not be covered, like cash that you keep in your luggage, as well as expensive jewellery and gadgets. Always check if there’s a limit on the value of possessions and if it’s not enough for your belongings, speak to your insurer to arrange additional cover, if possible.

Alcohol exclusion

For many, going on holiday is an excuse to let your hair down and indulge more than you would do at home, but drinking excessively can affect certain travel insurance claims.

If you have an accident that requires medical treatment while intoxicated, you usually won’t be covered. The same goes for if you get alcohol poisoning and need to be hospitalised.

Also, insurers define intoxication differently and some may have a much lower limit than others when it comes to how much you can drink and still be covered.

Take it easy on the booze to avoid having your claim rejected, plus you’ll actually be able to remember your holiday.

Extreme sports

All policies will list the activities that you will and won’t be covered for while you’re away and you may actually be surprised by some of the exclusions.

For instance, some policies will not insure you for horse riding, kayaking, canoeing and even jet skiing, which is available at most popular tourist beaches. There may also be restrictions around how deep you can scuba dive or the grade of river you can white water raft on.

More extreme sports won’t be covered as standard, so you’ll need to find a specialist policy or purchase an add-on to your existing policy. If you’re planning to do things like rock climbing, base jumping, bungee jumping or skydiving, it’s really important to make sure that you’re insured adequately.

Travelling against FCDO advice

The government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issues advice to keep UK residents safe while they travel abroad. It provides information on things like entry requirements, security and Covid-19 restrictions.

In some cases, it will advise against ‘all but essential travel’ or ‘all travel’ to certain countries. This could be because of issues like conflict, natural disasters or disease outbreaks, which pose a significant risk to tourists. If you still decide to visit the country, it can invalidate your travel insurance.

Always take a look at FCDO website before booking your travel tickets.

Riding motorbikes and mopeds

They’re a popular way to zip around a country and see the sights, especially in places like Indonesia and Thailand, but they can make cover a little more complicated because of the high risk of getting into an accident. The same goes for hiring quad bikes.

Some policies will not insure you for hiring one while you’re on holiday at all, or there could be strict exclusions that you must avoid. You’ll also need to make sure that you have third-party cover in case you injure someone else or their property while riding.

You’re also required to have a valid licence which allows you to ride a motorcycle or moped and you must use a reputable rental company. You’ll also want to check local laws regarding safety equipment and road use.


There are a few different types of travel insurance fraud. For instance, you could lie when you’re purchasing your policy by purposefully omitting any pre-existing conditions, dangerous activities you’re planning to take part in or destinations you’re visiting.

Alternatively, a false travel insurance claim is counted as fraud. This could be making up or embellishing an incident that you’re claiming for. Deliberately damaging your property or overexaggerating the value of items counts too.

If you have committed fraud, your claim will be rejected. You may even find it harder to be insured in the future as travel insurers share information on customer’s claims. Serious cases could result in being fined and even a prison sentence.

What to do if a claim is rejected

If you feel that your claim has been wrongfully rejected, you still have options.

Double check your policy documents looking for wording that you believe shows that you were covered for your claim, or if you think it is ambiguous.

You can then contact the insurer and ask to enter their complaints process to have your rejected claim reviewed. This can usually be done in writing, or it may be possible to speak over the phone with an agent.

If you’re not happy with the results of the review, you can refer your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). It’s completely independent and free to use.

They’ll investigate your complaint and consider whether your claim was rejected unfairly. If it’s found to have been wrongly rejected, you may receive compensation.

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