How to claim on travel insurance

Claiming on your travel insurance can be straightforward if you have the right information to hand. Find out what you need and how to make a successful claim.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 20 March 2023  | 5 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Travel insurance claim tips

  • Note down your policy number and insurer’s contact details before you travel 
  • Try to contact your insurer before you receive any medical treatment 
  • Let your insurer know as soon as possible when you need to make a claim  
  • Keep any receipts and documentation you can use as proof to support your claim

What events can I claim for?

Travel insurance covers you for unexpected situations that might affect your trip and leave you out of pocket.   

You’ll need to check your policy details, but most will let you claim for:

  • Medical emergencies and personal injury (unless you’re holidaying in the UK)
  • Lost or stolen baggage

You'll also be able to make a claim if you need to cancel or cut short your trip (known as curtailment) because of:

  • An unexpected death, illness or injury of a close relative
  • Fire, burglary or damage to your home
  • Your destination becoming unsafe - check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website
  • Redundancy
  • Becoming pregnant and being advised not to travel after buying insurance
  • Being called for jury service or as a witness in court

How to claim on travel insurance

When you go on holiday it’s important to take your travel insurance documents with you, or at least have the policy number and contact details to hand - your insurer should also provide you with an emergency 24/7 phone number.

Saving these details onto your mobile phone can help you quickly find them if you need to.

It’s also a good idea to send a copy of your policy to a relative or friend in case they need to contact the insurer on your behalf. Consider keeping a paper copy in your luggage as well.

If you need to make a claim, contact your insurer as soon as possible and ask for a claim form. To speed things up they should be able to email this to you or send you a link to their online claims portal.

To make a claim you’ll need to provide your policy number and details about the incident. You’ll also be asked for supporting evidence, like copies of receipts and itemised bills.

Claiming for emergency medical treatment and illness

For medical emergencies, your insurer should provide a 24/7 phone number you can call for advice on where to get help and what to do next.

If you need to make a claim for medical treatment, you should contact your insurer before you receive any treatment – but in an emergency situation, they’ll understand if that isn’t possible.

Depending on your condition, you may not be able to contact the insurer yourself. If this is the case, someone who’s travelling with you, or your emergency contact at home, can get in touch with them on your behalf.

However, be aware that most travel policies won’t accept claims for private medical treatment - they usually only cover medical care provided in public hospitals.

Claiming for loss or theft of belongings

If your belongings have been lost or stolen, you’ll need to report this to the local police within 24 hours and get a written police report.

However, if that’s not possible, notify someone in a position of authority in the place where the loss or theft happened – for example, your tour rep, transport provider or hotel manager – and get a written report from them instead.

Claiming for cancellation and curtailment

If you need to cancel or cut short your trip, get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can. You’ll only be able to make a claim for cancelling in certain circumstances that are listed on your policy, like a bereavement, jury service or a fire at your home, and you’ll need evidence to support.

Claiming for delayed or cancelled flights

If your airline is responsible for your flight delay or cancellation it should offer you compensation.

In the case of long flight delays, you could be provided with food and drink vouchers as well as overnight hotel accommodation and airport transport while you wait.

If your flight’s more than four hours late, you could also claim up to £520 in compensation from your airline. And you’ll usually be entitled to a full refund or a replacement flight if it’s cancelled.

However, if the delay or cancellation was outside the airline’s control - for example, if it was caused by bad weather or industrial action - it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any type of compensation from the airline.

If this happens, you may be able to claim through your travel insurer. You’ll need to check if your policy covers travel disruption and what you can claim for. Some offer a fixed cash sum for flights that are delayed by bad weather for more than a set number of hours.

You won't be able to claim for any weather related disruption if you took out your policy after the bad weather has been forecasted or was known about.

Claiming if your airline goes bust

If your flight was part of a package holiday it should be ATOL protected and your travel agent will usually organise another flight for you or offer a refund.

Alternatively, if you booked your flights directly with the airline using a credit card, you could get a refund from your card provider under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. And if you used a debit card, you could try making a chargeback claim to recover what you paid.

Some travel insurance policies will protect you against airline failure, but it’s not typically included with standard cover, so check your policy details.

But even if your policy does include scheduled airline failure cover, it’ll usually only pay out if you’ve tried the previous options first.

How to claim while you’re travelling abroad

You don’t have to wait until your trip is over to make a claim. In fact, you should let your insurer know about a claim as soon as possible, often this means contacting them while you’re still away, particularly if you need urgent medical treatment.

You’ll need your policy number to hand before calling your insurer’s contact number or emergency helpline.

If it’s not an emergency, you’ll usually be able to make a claim online.

What documents do I need to make a travel insurance claim?

To make a claim you’ll need to have the following documents and information ready before you start:

  1. Your policy number

  2. Your personal details and those of anyone else claiming on the policy

  3. Details about your trip - like the dates of travel and destination

  4. Information about what happened - such as the time, date and location

  5. Evidence to support your claim - like receipts for medical treatment or a police report for stolen items

How long do travel claims take?

This can depend on your insurer but, typically, once they’ve received your claim it’ll take less than two weeks for them to assess it.

Sometimes your insurer may ask you to provide more information to support your claim. This will usually add extra time onto how long it takes to process your claim.

And remember that when you make a claim, you’ll usually have to pay an excess - this is the amount of money you agreed to pay towards a claim when you took out the policy. It’s usually deducted from any payout you receive.

Is there a limit on how much I can claim for?

Yes, there’s usually a maximum limit for each type of claim and there may be sub-limits too.

For example, your policy may pay out a maximum of £1,000 for lost luggage but a sub-limit might mean that only £200 of this can be used to claim valuables.

Out of 952 annual travel insurance policies on Defaqto, 98% cover baggage as standard, but the cover levels varied.

The majority (63%) of policies have a baggage cover limit over £2,000, but 16% of policies have a cover limit of less than £1,500. [1]

Medical expenses cover can seem very generous on paper – 98% of policies would cover £3 million or more in medical expenses. But this figure has to include repatriation costs, which can be extremely high if you need to be flown home under medical supervision.

What if my claim is over the cover limit?

Your policy will set out the cover limits for each situation or reason for claiming. If your expenses come to more than this, you’ll have to pay for them yourself.

If you’re not happy with the amount the insurers agree to pay out for your claim or you feel they didn’t provide clear information about the cover limits, you should contact them to complain.

And if you’re unhappy with their response you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to look into your case.

When can I claim on travel insurance?

If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you should do this as soon as possible.

Some insurers require you to make a claim within a certain timeframe so check your policy to make sure you don’t miss this.

If you do miss the deadline, you’ll need to provide evidence as to why there was a delay.

Why might my travel insurance claim be rejected?

Your insurer might reject your claim if you:

  • Don’t report a theft or accident before the deadline set out in your policy
  • Travelled to a destination that isn't covered by your insurer or against government advice
  • Don’t have the right cover – for example, your claim involves winter sports but your policy doesn’t cover this
  • Were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Don’t have enough evidence or the right documents
  • Lied on your policy – for example, by not disclosing a pre-existing medical condition
  • Don’t pay the excess

What can I do if my claim has been rejected?

If you think your claim was rejected unfairly, the first thing you’ll need to do is make a complaint in writing directly to the insurer and state how you’d like it resolved.

If you aren’t happy with your insurer’s response or you haven’t received one after eight weeks, you can ask for a ‘letter of deadlock’ - this states that you and your insurer haven’t been able to reach an agreement.

You can then take your complaint to the FOS.

Can I claim on my travel insurance for Covid-19 related issues?

Covid-19 cover varies between providers, so whether you can claim will depend on the terms and conditions of your policy.

Most insurers will cover your medical treatment if you catch Covid-19 abroad, but you’re far less likely to be covered for additional accommodation and repatriation costs if you’re not ill but have to quarantine abroad.

How do I make a claim if I have more than one insurance policy?

Doubling up on cover can complicate the claims process.

It’s not a good idea to double-insure, but it’s easy to do it by mistake. For example, you might have travel insurance cover through your bank, which provides a more extensive policy than the one you bought yourself.

You won’t be compensated twice, so it’s best to only contact one provider to make the claim but you must make sure that the insurer is aware that you have another policy. Your first insurer will get in touch with the second provider on your behalf to decide how to resolve the claim.

Save on your travel insurance

Get started

[1]Last checked 11 May 2023