Travel insurance claims - be prepared

Most insurance claims are dealt with swiftly and without problems. It’s always worth taking the time to read the policy wording before you need to make a claim, especially the exclusions, so you know what's covered and what isn't.  You don’t want your claim to be rejected if it can be avoided.

Here we highlight some of the most common reasons for travel insurance not paying out so you can avoid having your claim rejected.

For tips on how to buy the right policy see Travel insurance, and enjoy your well-earned holiday.


Some common reasons for rejection of claims

“You didn’t take ‘reasonable care’ of your possessions”

Look after your things – your insurer won’t cover claims if they decide you didn’t take ‘reasonable care’. For example, if you leave your bag visible in a parked car and it’s stolen, it probably won’t be covered.

“You checked your valuables into the hold”

Check the definition of ‘valuables’ as it will vary depending on the insurer and carry valuables with you on board a plane, ferry, etc. Your policy might not cover valuables that are 'outside of your control in transit'.

“You don’t have a police report/proof of purchase/a written statement”

If something is lost or stolen, get proof. You’ll need to: 

  • Report a theft to the local police, or another authority, usually within 24 hours 
  • Keep original receipts (or other evidence) to provide proof of ownership 
  • Get a written report if the airline loses your bags - this needs to confirm how many hours your baggage was delayed or that it has been lost.

Money fitness tip

Act fast - whether it's reporting a medical condition to your insurer or reporting a theft to the police.

“Sorry, your uncle is not a ‘close’ relative”

Lots of travel policies cover your expenses if you have to cancel a trip or come home early because a close relative is seriously ill or has died. But some people have cancelled their holiday only to find that the person they have returned for is not included in their insurance company’s definition of ‘close relative’.

Check your holiday insurance policy wording before you buy to see exactly who is covered. And be sure to declare if any of your close relatives have a pre-existing medical condition that might affect your travel plans.

“You were drunk”

If you have an accident, or even lose something, after drinking too much or taking drugs, you probably won’t be covered.

“You didn’t get the right vaccinations”

Take whatever vaccinations or medication is recommended for your destination. For example, if your travel agent recommends anti-malarials and you don’t take them, if you get malaria your insurer won’t cover you.

“You missed the deadline”

If something happens and you think you might need to make a claim, act fast. You may only have 24 hours to file a police report.  Stick to any deadlines for putting in your claim to your insurer when you get home.

  • Take a copy of your insurance policy with you, so you have your insurer’s helpline number and all the deadlines and details if you need to claim.
  • If you bought your policy online you can save a copy to your phone so you always have it with you.

Don't leave it until you get home

If you have a medical problem, call your insurer’s helpline as soon as you can. Some travellers have had claims rejected because they didn’t call to report an illness or emergency during travel.

“That destination isn’t covered”

If you’re heading to a country or part of a country the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says you should avoid, you won't be able to claim on your holiday insurance. Check the latest travel advice on the website.

Refund of Nugatory Holiday Expenditure (NHE)

You may be able to claim NHE for financial losses if you are forced to cancel or curtail a holiday through unforeseen and unavoidable Service requirements.

You must have suffered financial losses which you cannot regain either through refunds from the holiday company/tour operator or through your own travel insurance, including cancellation cover.

If you don’t buy travel insurance (or what you buy is inadequate) any claims for NHE will be reduced by the cost of suitable cover as quoted by a Services Insurance & Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP) member.

For tips on buying the right travel policy see Travel insurance.

Last reviewed: 12/10/2018

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service