Basically, travel insurances are a good thing. They are designed for all kinds of travelers up to the digital nomads. They can minimize the considerable risks of traveling: accidents, illness, missed flights, canceled tours, lost baggage, theft, terrorism, travel-company bankruptcies, emergency evacuation, and so on. There is however a BIG BUT…..
…BUT be careful when choosing which insurance company and when dealing with the insurance company. After all, insurances do not like to lose money but to make money. A few samples to watch out for:
- Watch your excess – The excess is the amount you have to pay towards any cost you make a claim for – so if you claim for USD/EUR 250 and your excess is USD/EUR 50, the insurer will pay out USD/EUR 200. Right? Perhaps not – is it an excess per claim or per section of the policy? The difference on a stolen handbag, for example, could be one excess or three – for bag, money and passport.”
- Your own health – this is one of the most frequently used reasons for drawing on a travel insurance policy – and also one of the most common reasons for having a claim turned down. Often, a rejected claim relates to the issue of a pre-existing medical condition that has not been disclosed. Also, a pre-existing condition is not limited to medical conditions that have already been diagnosed!
- Someone else’s health – be warned that the exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions may be more onerous when the person who is ill is not the policyholder, but a family member or someone who was going to travel with the policyholder. Most people don’t have full details of other people’s medical history.
If you have a relative or close business colleague whose state of health could lead to a decision by you to cancel or curtail your policy, you need to tell your insurer. If you do not disclose a serious condition you know about, and subsequently cancel your claim, it is unlikely to be paid – even if they are not travelling with you.”
- Make sure you start it in time – be very careful about when you start your policy. Most people take out insurance to begin on the first day of their holiday, rather than the day they booked. This can become a problem when the policyholder has to cancel the holiday in advance. In these circumstances, the insurer may refuse to pay any cancellation costs because the policy cover hasn’t actually started.
- Hazardous sports – travel insurance policies routinely exclude a number of sporting activities and you should check these carefully, as your idea of hazardous may be different from that of an insurer. An obvious example is skiing – even if you are only a beginner on the green slopes this is usually excluded unless you ask to have it added on. Diving? Below 30 meters it is likely it is not covered.
- Don’t be laid back about theft or loss – failing to obtain a police report after a robbery or failing to notify your insurer within a certain time frame is another reason why a claim may be turned down. “Follow your insurer’s instructions on what to do if you think you’ve had something stolen. For example, your insurer may want you to report a theft within 24 hours of becoming aware of it, so leaving it until you get home before you contact your insurer’s helpline may be too late.”
Your insurer can also turn down your claim if they have grounds to believe you failed to take reasonable care of your belongings. “If you leave your wallet on your beach towel and go for a dip, this is not taking reasonable care and you could be left out of pocket.”
- Beware the booze – alcohol is a surprisingly common reason for disputes over claims, as most insurers have an exclusion that relates to it. There was a case recently where an insurer refused to pay the repatriation costs when the policyholder was taken seriously ill on holiday. The holidaymaker disputed that his condition was down to excessive alcohol intake and put it down to “a dodgy prawn curry”.
- Danger zones – the simple rule is: if the Foreign Office says don’t go there, then don’t expect your policy to cover a trip. “If you’re in any doubt, talk to your insurer.
These are just a few points to watch out for. If you’d like us to select the right insurance for you and to deal with any disputes please choose our Concierge- and/or Emergency Service.