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How to file a successful travel insurance claim

How to file a successful travel insurance claim
(Image credit: Getty)

While nobody wants to be in a position where they have to make a claim on their travel insurance, it nevertheless remains one of the most often used protections around today. American travelers spent $3.8 billion on the best travel insurance plans in 2018, $1 billion more than in 2016, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, and with anxiety around COVID-19 understandably high, the figure seems certain to leap even higher. 

Improve your chances of a successful claim

Should circumstances dictate that you do need to make a claim, these simple steps can help improve your chances of it being a success: 

Read your policy thoroughly before you buy
Almost all travel insurance companies will now post their contracts online. You will usually need to go through the quote process to get to the details specific to you, but once they're available, be sure to spend the time checking exactly what they say.

Look for exceptions that might apply to you
Have you recently been to the medical center for a worrying condition? Or maybe your daughter is having a difficult pregnancy? These are potential examples of "pre-existing conditions" that might prevent your trip insurance from paying out should you cancel because of these types of emergencies.

Report incidents with local authorities and get something in writing
If you have something stolen, file with the local police, your carrier or hotel as soon as possible. Get a written report. In any emergency that may result in a claim, contact the insurance agency quickly, too - whatever the problem, they always prefer to know as soon as possible.

Give your emergency contact your insurance information
In most cases, trip insurance companies expect fast notification in order to give you maximum benefits. Therefore it's helpful that your emergency contact be able to get in touch with the insurer if you have an emergency and cannot make the call yourself.

Keep your receipts
Monetary value must be proven, so keep receipts of items purchased in case they are lost or stolen. Also, keep receipts of tickets purchased, meals or other expenses as a result of long delays or change fees. Using your charge card instead of cash can make this easier, as you can usually turn in those records as proof of purchase.

How to file a successful travel insurance claim

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Keep other policy paperwork
Travel insurance usually pays second, so you need to file a claim with your medical insurance provider, airlines or travel agencies for anything they will cover. Thus, the trip insurance company may want to see the cancellation and refund policies of these other companies to make sure they've given their fair share first.

Make sure everything is dated
From police reports to purchase receipts, make sure everything has the date and time. Such details can make all the difference in making a swift and successful claim.

Work with your other insurance companies
Sometimes the best home owners insurance or health insurance policy covers specific incidents that take place on vacation. In these cases, most travel insurance companies will want you to file with them first. Even when that's not the case, working with both insurances may get you a greater return for your loss.

File quickly
When something happens to wreck a vacation, it's tempting to put everything aside and forget about it for a bit. However, most insurance companies have filing deadlines that they need you to meet, and you may need to have filed claims with your other insurances first. Most accept later claims if there is a compelling reason for the delay, such as your medical insurance taking a long time to pay its share, but delays need to be substantiated.

Claim denied?
If you're unsuccessful in a travel insurance claim, always ask why. A first-time refusal might not necessarily be a final decision. Ask the agent why it was denied and what the refiling procedures are. It may be a simple matter of resubmitting with more detailed paperwork to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are quite rightly owed.

Final thoughts

If you're in any doubt as to the value of travel insurance, always remember that trip protection can cost hundreds of dollars but potentially save you thousands if something goes terribly wrong. However, it's your responsibility to declare everything the insurer might need to know and to check the finer details of the policy that you're offered. 

And should you need to make a claim, always take the the time and effort to make your case clear to the insurance agencies. Understanding the policy, collecting paperwork up front, and making sure you have the necessary details of your problem will always help you towards securing a successful claim.