You may consider getting stung by a jellyfish while swimming at an Auckland beach to be an instance of holiday drama. How about missing your connecting flight in the US because of a delay in Hong Kong? More drama.
Well, just wait till you try making an ill-prepared travel insurance claim, and it’ll make the drama you are claiming for feel like a spa visit. Anyone who’s bothered to read your travel insurance policy knows just how many terms and conditions, limitations and exclusions there are. It’s really anyone’s guess just how much you’re covered for if something happens to you before or during your trip. But, since you bought travel insurance anyway, you should definitely try get as much as you can.
Here are the 6 steps to making a travel insurance claim.
1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible.
Depending on your policy, there is usually a time limit as to how long you can wait to give written notice about your intention to claim. Usually it’s 30 days, but even then you shouldn’t be taking your time. Remember that you may need to get others involved, like the police or your GP, and that will take time.
2. Make sure you completely fill up the right claims form
Not all travel claims forms are made equal. Make sure you know what you’re claiming for – if you’re claiming on medical grounds, or if there was a delay or cancellation, or even if it’s both. Choosing the right form is important because leaving any blanks in the form could cause delays in the claim process.
Also note that, for claims that are a result of illness, injury or death, you may need a GP or Specialist to fill up sections of the form for you. Yes, that means even if you’re claiming for travel cancellation due to sickness, you will need to get your GP or Specialist to certify that your illness did not exist, or that you were not aware of it, before booking the trip.
3. Get all your supporting documents ready
This is the part which you need to pay attention to. Leaving any supporting document out is going to delay the claim process or worse, cause you to have insufficient proof to proceed with the claim.
Other than a completed claim form and a copy of the policy/certificate of insurance, you should also include your passport/itinerary to prove that you had travelled or at least made travel plans.
Then there’s a whole list of supporting documents you’ll need to provide depending on the type of claim you’re making. For example, for any medical-related claims, you will need the original bills and receipts, a medical report or an inpatient discharge summary, and the proof of the length of stay in the hospital. Yes, these are three different types of documents, all proving different aspects of the same event. Miss out one and you might as well forget about claiming.
In the case of missing a flight due to misconnection, flight diversion or worse, overbooking, you’ll need to get a letter from the airline describing the situation. Your insurer isn’t going to be the one chasing them for it. You will need to follow up with the airline for written confirmation that specifically describes the reasons for the missed flight and the length of the delay.
4. Be prepared for some weird requests
If you were the victim of crime while overseas, then you will need “proof of the event”. If you’re fortunate, this will be easy – despite the trauma of the event, you will have given your statement to an understanding officer of the law in a language you’re fluent in and they will readily provide you with a police report that clearly states exactly what has happened.
But, you know, Murphy’s Law. In a worst case scenario, you’ll need a translator AND you’ll encounter a police officer who won’t give you a proper police report unless you pay him a “fee”. Since your travel insurance claim often depends on that police report, you’re kinda screwed either way.
5. Wait. But not too long.
The hardest part is not in submitting your travel insurance claim, it’s in deciding how long to wait before you start pestering your insurer for an update. Typically, claims take a week to a month to be processed. The first thing to do is to make sure they’ve received your supporting documents.
If you haven’t heard anything from them in two weeks, you should definitely be pro-active and contact your insurer. The last thing you want to hear is that they need this supporting document or that supporting document before they START processing your claim.
Let’s be honest here. There is always a conflict of interest when making an insurance claim. Your agenda is to get as much compensation as possible. An insurance company’s agenda is to reduce your claim as much as possible. There are many “tricks” that an insurance company can do to reduce their liability. They twist the meaning of their policy as much as they can. As much as possible, do not allow them to convince you that they are not liable for a claim.
Don’t forget to compare the various travel insurance plans out there, before buying one for your trip. While this all seems very tiresome and complicated, trust us when we say you’ll be recovering from your holiday drama a lot faster once you see your claim amounts coming in.
It may not take away the pain of a jellyfish sting, but it’ll maybe give you enough money to fly back to the beach and take revenge once you’ve recovered.
Have you had a nightmare experience with travel insurance claims? We want to hear from you.
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