How to avoid travel insurance claim rejections

Find out about some of the common reasons travel insurance claims get rejected and how you can avoid them.

Amy Smith
Updated 14 October 2019 | 4 min read

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If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, the last thing you want is for it to be rejected.

Most claims are paid out without issue, those that aren’t are because there’s a genuine issue. Things like non-disclosure of medical conditions, claims for things that aren’t covered by the policy, fraudulent claims or failure to follow procedure.

Check the policy documents to make sure the cover you’re getting is suitable for your trip.

Key points

  • Most claims are paid out without a problem, but some are rejected
  • Rejections usually happen because they either aren’t covered by the policy, or procedures weren't followed
  • Insurers will reject claims for money you aren’t entitled to or for exaggerating the cost of a claim
  • If you think your claim has been wrongfully rejected you can make a complaint. If that fails, contact the Financial Ombudsman for help

Non-disclosure of a pre-existing medical condition

If you don't tell an insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions you have when you take out your travel insurance policy, you risk any claim you make being rejected.

Most insurers will expect you to have all recommended vaccinations for your destination and for you to take any other medical precautions too, like anti-malaria tablets.

Failure to take any preventative measures the insurer requests means it could reject claims for any related health problems.

Your insurer will have a procedure for claiming back medical expenses. Follow these instructions as best you can, but insurers will understand that getting medical care is the priority in emergency situations.

Theft of property on holiday

Your insurer will want to see proof of ownership for high value items, so keep receipts.

If you file a police report immediately - and ensure all items that you’re claiming for are documented - it should be enough to make a successful claim.

Exactly what your insurer accepts as proof of ownership will be outlined in your policy documents.

If your passport is lost or stolen, your travel insurance will usually cover the cost of obtaining emergency travel documents, but not the cost of getting a new passport.

Insurers expect you to keep your passport somewhere secure, whether that’s on your person or in a hotel safe. Claims for passports left unattended will be rejected.

Alcohol exclusion

All policies have an exclusion clause regarding alcohol. It’s usually only used if there’s a strong link between the circumstances of a claim and drunkenness.

They won't expect you to be teetotal, but if your judgement has been badly affected, or you exceed your insurers recommended alcohol limit, then your claim will usually be rejected.

Tripping over a kerb and twisting your ankle after a few drinks is different to being extremely drunk and diving into a swimming pool from your hotel balcony.

Extreme sports

If your travel insurance covers you for adventurous sports, there will be a list of those included as standard in the policy document, things like snorkelling and jet skiing.

Activities that aren’t already included might be available to add on for an additional fee, for example quad biking.

If you’re injured doing an activity that isn’t listed, your claim will be rejected, so make sure a policy covers what you need it to before you buy.

Travelling against FCO advice

Most insurers will have a clause that states you won’t be covered if you travel against the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or the World Health Organisation (WHO).

If you’re in any doubt, talk to your insurer to see if it’ll cover your trip or not.

Riding motorbikes and mopeds

Some policies won’t cover you for riding a motorbike or moped over a certain engine size, usually 125cc, which means claims won’t be accepted.

Fraud

Attempts to claim for money you aren’t entitled to, either by exaggerating the cost of a genuine claim or making up a claim altogether, will be rejected.

If you’re caught out, you could end up with a criminal record, and you’ll have difficulty getting insurance in the future.

What to do if a claim is rejected

If a claim is rejected, your insurer will have a referral procedure for you to follow.

You usually make an initial complaint to the insurer or claims handler. If it’s still not resolved, then it will be forwarded to the underwriters.

As a last resort, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman, who will weigh up the evidence and make a final decision.

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