April 15, 2012

Travel Insurance- What You Need To Know After You've Bought It

As anyone who has followed my blog or twitter feed knows, I am a HUGE proponent of protecting your vacation investment with travel insurance. But that insurance will do you no good if you cannot obtain reimbursement due to lack of documentation to support your claim.

Here are some tips from Travelex, one of the companies I recommend most often because of their family-friendly rates and great customer support. And most importantly, they are efficient at processing claims to ensure my clients receive funds in a timely manner. The turn-around time is typically about 2 weeks if all necessary forms are filled out properly and include the supporting documents.

If you have booked your trip through a travel advisor, they should be able to provide most of the necessary information to file a claim:

* Invoices for initial and final payments. (Documenting the date of initial payments for a trip is important to determine if a client qualifies for coverage for extras such as pre-existing conditions, financial default of the supplier, etc. Thus it’s important to buy travel insurance in a timely manner, usually within 2-3 weeks of your first deposit, to obtain the most comprehensive coverage.)

* Terms and conditions of the supplier, and penalties charged

* Refunds received for any unused portions of the trip

* Original & unused travel documents, or copies

Additional documentation a traveler needs to provide may include (depending on the reason for the claim):

* Attending Physician's statement

* Proof of cause of interruption/delay (e.g. incident report from airlines)

* Receipts for additional expenses: purchase of new airline tickets, hotel receipts, etc.

Proof of charges for trip: credit card statement or cancelled checks (front & back copy)

Lost Baggage Claim number  – be sure to get something in writing from the airline.  Hang onto your baggage tags.

* Police report - If there is an incident that requires police assistance.  If your valuables are stolen, you must call the police and file a report in order to submit a claim.

Here are some tips to help you prepare before your trip:

* Document what you are carrying in your luggage:  Lay all items out on a bed before you pack and take a picture.

* Take a picture of your luggage to assist baggage handlers in locating your lost bag.

* Never pack valuables in your checked bags, always place them in your carry-on. This includes cameras, laptops & other electronics, jewelry, prescription glasses, medications, etc. Not that there is usually a cap on how much insurance will pay for a single item. For example, Travelex‘s limit is $600.

* Pack your travel insurance documents in your carry-on luggage. Most insurance companies also provide wallet cards and baggage tags for your convenience.

If something unfortunate happens while you are traveling, the first thing to do is call the 24 hour support number shown on your insurance policy. The emergency call center can assist with booking new flights and accommodations, finding medical care, replacing lost passports, and tracking lost bags. This feature alone is worth the cost of any policy, especially if traveling in an unfamiliar area or if you don’t know the local language.

If you cannot call them immediately, call as soon as is possible, don’t wait until you get home or to your destination. It’s important to document incidents as soon as they occur, as waiting too long could hinder the claims process. Also, customer service can advise you real-time on what documentation to collect, which could be difficult or impossible to obtain at a later date.

If you have not purchased travel insurance yet, I am happy to help find the right policy to suit your needs.  It is not necessary that I have booked your trip.  Contact me at suzette@family-treks.com for more information.


Suzy said...

Good tips! It seems like more and more these days you really need to hang on to receipts and documents if you want to make a claim.

Christine Perry said...

Really nice and detailed article. In my opinion, a travel insurance is a must have whenever we go abroad, because we must be protected in case if something happens... like an accident.
Personally, I have a health insurance California and it's available even if I travel... I love it and it's great that I can enjoy my holiday, knowing that I'm covered up!