Nobody ever wants to make travel insurance claims unless they really, really have to. Why? Because it’s troublesome, lah.
It’ll always be a hassle to fill up forms and rustle up the required documents, but just like waxing your legs, if you already know exactly what to do and how to prepare, the entire process can be relatively quick and painless — easy-peasy!
- Most common travel insurance claims
- How to claim travel insurance [step by step guide]
- Covid-19 travel insurance claims
- How long do travel insurance claims take?
- Travel insurance claims were rejected
- Why your travel insurance claims were rejected
1. Common travel insurance claims
What is the most common travel insurance claim?
Think it’s loss of baggage? You’re way off.
If you were to guess medical expenses or personal accident, you’d be closer, but that would still not be the answer.
In actual fact, flight delays are what most travellers experience, and it’s not surprising, especially when you consider the preference for budget airline travel.
2. How do I make a travel insurance claim [Step-by-step guide]
So, the thing about travel insurance is that people only remember it when something unpleasant messes up our travel plans. Then, we panic and scramble when the insurer asks for things like the purchase receipt of a DSLR camera bought 6 years ago.
Sound familiar? If yes, here’s a pro-tip — be familiar with what you can and can’t claim for, and make sure you have a rough idea of the supporting documents needed.
It’s good practice to have a copy of your insurance policy on your phone, so you can always check it as and when you need, even on the go. Some travellers also have a habit of snapping photos of their luggage and belongings before the trip, just in case anything gets lost, delayed or damaged.
The exact claim procedure will depend on your insurance company, but generally, the process goes like this:
Step 1: Contact your insurance company 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.
Step 2: Download and fill up the travel insurance claim forms
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.
Step 3: Prepare your supporting documents
This is the biggest cause of delayed or rejected claims, so make sure you have everything you need before filing the claim.
Other than a completed claim form and a copy of the policy/certificate of insurance, you will also need to 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.
|Travel insurance claim||Supporting documents to prepare|
|Personal accident and medical expenses||Original medical bills and receipts, medical report or discharge summary stating date, cause and nature of injury/illness, police report (for accidents)|
|Loss of personal belongings||Police report of lost items, property loss irregularity report, original purchase invoice and/or warranty card|
|Damaged personal belongings||Property damage irregularity report, photos of damaged items, diagnostic report from repairer stating cause and extent of damage, repair bill or quotation, original purchase invoice and/or warranty card|
|Baggage delay||Written confirmation from carrier/airline on period of delay or baggage return acknowledgement|
|Travel disruptions (delays, overbooking, etc)||Written confirmation from the airline/carrier, written confirmation from the tour agent/carrier/hotel on amount refunded and additional charges|
|Travel cancellation or curtailment||Written confirmation from tour agent/carrier/hotel on the extra charges incurred, hotel accommodation confirmation advice or travel deposit receipt|
|Travel cancellation or curtailment (if death or sickness is the cause)||Death certificate, proof of relationship with the person who is sick or dead, medical report certifying the diagnosis and that the insured is not fit to travel|
|Rental vehicle excess and other related expenses||Rental vehicle agreement, police report/evidence of motor accident (e.g. photographs), original excess payment receipt, repair bills|
|Personal liability||Letter of claim or documents received from the 3rd party, photographs of damaged 3rd party property|
Generally, if it requires a police report, you will need to report it to the local police within 24 hours of the incident.
Also, if you intend to claim for belongings that were damaged or stolen, you’d need to produce the original purchase receipts and photos of it to prove that you own these items.
If you are a hardcore “KonMari” fan and have tossed the receipts for all your fancy gadgets — cameras, laptops, etc — then it’s best not to travel with these items.
Step 4: Submit your claims documents online, in person or via snail mail
Once you’ve got everything you need, you can officially file the claim. Most insurers now have online platforms for easy submission, which is great for the younger, more tech-savvy crowd.
I’ve personally done medical expenses claims via FWD’s website and it was surprisingly fast and seamless.
For those who prefer to do it offline, you can either mail your documents over or head down to the branch office directly.
3. Covid-19 travel insurance claim
Travel insurance companies these days have extended their coverage for Covid-19, but at a cost. It’s usually a $20 to $40 dollar add-on, and you need to check if your insurer requires you to take and receive a negative PCR test result immediately after buying your policy.
In the event that you do catch Covid-19 before, during or after your trip, here are the things you need to do:
|Covid-19 travel insurance claim||Supporting documents to prepare|
|COVID-19 before your trip||
|COVID-19 during your trip||
|COVID-19 after your trip||
4. How long do travel insurance claims take?
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 2 weeks, you should definitely be pro-active and contact your insurer. The last thing you want to hear is that they hadn’t even started processing your claims because you left something out, and weren’t informed.
5. My travel insurance claims were denied and rejected
Should you appeal? Yes you should.
If your claims were denied, the insurer is obligated to provide you with a valid reason and the grounds for their decision. Once you get that, you can then request for claims appeal.
What happens moving forward depends on the insurer and how they handle your case, but 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. So yes, you can appeal, but it may not always be successful.
6. Mistakes causing your travel insurance claims to be rejected
So, you’ve bought travel insurance. Now it’s time to go skydiving and swimming with the sharks. Right? Not so fast.
Travel insurance isn’t a “get out of jail free” card that magically frees you from having to pay any expense you incur due to stupid mishaps.
In fact, if you actually take the time to read your travel insurance policy, you’ll realise that there’s actually a truckload of things you can do to get your claims thrown straight into the bin.
Here are 5 common travel mistakes that may cause your travel insurance claims to be rejected:
Playing in a competition or tournament
Participating in a seemingly harmless game of football may not exactly be as exciting as jumping off cliffs into the ocean, but suffer an injury during the game and you could well get your insurance claim for medical expenses rejected.
Read your insurance policy carefully to see if cover is excluded if you participate in a competition or tournament. Beware, as any sporting event that gives you the opportunity to win a prize might be considered a competition.
That means if someone punches your lights out during the drunken muay thai boxing event organised by that Thai pub, you won’t get covered.
Many Singaporean tourists flee the country to escape from boredom during the holidays, since there’s so much more fun stuff you can do overseas, like skydiving and bungee jumping!
But before you sign yourself up for that motorcycle drag race, know that many travel insurance will not cover you for injuries or losses suffered in the course of high risk activities, which often include flying planes for hobby or sightseeing, racing any kind of vehicle, skydiving, and even rock climbing on actual rocks, as opposed to artificial rock walls.
Consuming alcohol or drugs
Virtually everyone has gotten smashed overseas. Every day of the year, Singaporeans are spotted disembarking at the Phuket and Bangkok airports and heading straight to the duty free shop to buy a bottle of Martell. But guess what, if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you probably aren’t going to be able to make a claim for anything that happens to you during that time.
That means getting run over by a tuk tuk after a night out at the Thai discos is going to be even worse than you imagined. Bear in mind that your travel insurance covers more than just medical expenses. If you injure someone else and become liable at law or lose your passport while drunk or high, you will lose your chance to make some big claims.
Pre-existing medical conditions
The thing people are most concerned about when they buy travel insurance is making sure their medical expenses will be covered when they’re overseas. It’s worth noting that most basic travel insurance policies will not cover pre-existing medical conditions. As sinister as “pre-existing medical conditions” sounds, it isn’t restricted to deadly terminal diseases.
If you broke your leg two years ago and then break it again while you’re overseas, you might not be able to make a claim for medical expenses incurred. If you were recently injured or have a medical condition like diabetes or anaemia, you might want to consider upgrading your insurance so it includes pre-existing medical conditions, just in case something happens and you run into problems when trying to make a claim.
Not making a police report ASAP
Before you heave a sigh of relief that your insurance policy offers coverage if you lose your passport or laptop, beware. To make sure people don’t try to make claims for forgetting their stuff on the train or trying to pawn their belongings, most insurance policies require that you make a police report or contact the authorities within 24 hours of the loss.
This can be a pain in the neck if you’re in a remote area or you lose your stuff over a public holiday or weekend when the embassy is closed. Still, knowing you have a lot more to lose in insurance money, make sure you lodge a report by hook or by crook.
Any other tips for making travel insurance claims? Share them with us in the comments below!