Travel insurance can cover lost and delayed luggage. But cover levels vary and there are other options.
Baggage cover is a part of your travel insurance that lets you recoup your costs if your luggage is lost or delayed en route to your destination.
Although it’s a pretty standard feature of travel insurance, check your policy does cover you. Some basic ones don’t.
Out of 1,008 annual travel insurance policies on Defaqto, 98% cover baggage as standard, but the cover levels varied.
The majority (60%) of policies have a baggage cover limit over £2,000, but almost one-in-five policies have a cover limit of less than £1,500.
Make sure your baggage cover limit is high enough for everything you’re bringing with you.
To make a claim on travel insurance you need to pay an excess - a contribution towards the cost of the claim.
Any excess you’ll need to pay will be stated in your policy documents. But it’s worth checking. Baggage excess levels vary significantly from one policy to the next.
The policies we checked had baggage excesses varying from £25 to £750.
You can only claim if the cost of what you've lost is more than your excess.
If you need to make a claim for delayed baggage, you should be covered for essential items that you have to replace. Keep all your receipts.
Your bag has to be delayed for a certain amount of time and compensation amounts vary - check your policy to see your insurer’s interpretation.
If your baggage is permanently delayed or lost, you should be able to claim up to your baggage limit, but you’ll have to pay the excess.
If your luggage is lost, talk to your travel operator first. Whether that’s at an airport, a bus or train terminal, or a port.
If you’re at an airport, report your luggage missing before you leave the baggage reclaim area – otherwise your airline is unlikely to accept responsibility.
You can claim for lost luggage from your airline or from your travel insurance provider.
Your travel insurance might not cover you for lost luggage if you’re claiming for:
Compensation is usually limited to ‘depreciated rates’ which means you won’t be reimbursed for the cost of your belongings as if they were new.
Some tour operators will try to pass their responsibilities on to your insurer. You might be advised to call your insurer to make a claim and the operator will then provide you with a report to send as proof of loss.
However, some insurance policies exclude cover for baggage when it’s in the care of an airline or other tour operator.
Make sure you know the responsibilities of your insurer and your tour operator before you travel, just in case you need to make a claim.
If you’re flying and your luggage fails to arrive, ask for assistance at your airline’s help desk.
You’ll need to fill out a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ (PIR) with personal and flight details and an accurate description of your luggage and any distinguishing features.
If your luggage is later found, your airline should aim to return your bag to you within 72 hours.
Airlines are obliged to pay for ‘essential items’ - like toiletries or a change of clothes - while you wait, as long as what you need is a reasonable expense.
You’ll either be given a daily budget, a cash payment or be required to pay for the necessities and reclaim the cost once you get home. Check the airline’s policy to find out which.
Your bag won’t be classified as ‘lost’ until it’s been missing for 21 days. Until then it’s ‘delayed’.
When your baggage is declared lost, you can make a claim for compensation from the airline.
For some airports - such as those that are small or have unstaffed desk - it won’t be possible to claim from them, so you should get in touch with your insurer instead.
Tags can easily get ripped off, so have the information inside the bag as well
A colourful ribbon, personalised band or memorable sticker will help avoid mistakes at the airport. If your bag does get lost it’ll be easier to describe
Do this before travelling to help with identification
It’s worth making a list of everything in your luggage while packing, so if it gets lost you’re able to say what was in there
Last checked 12 April 2021