Inadequate travel insurance cover for lost and stolen passports major concern, says Holidaysafe.co.uk
Holidaymakers this summer should check their travel insurance cover has sufficient limits to pay for extra travel and costs to replace passports and travel documents, according to leading travel specialist Holidaysafe.co.uk
Lost, stolen and damaged possessions are the most reported claims issues, with a total of 28,659 cases of lost and stolen passports and travel documents reported between 2011/12 – the highest level for three years*.
Holidaysafe.co.uk brand manager Amber Howard said: “Experiencing a theft or realising that your possessions have been taken can be the most upsetting issue for travellers. Most insurance companies cover the costs of travel and accommodation to get an emergency passport abroad from the British Consulate, but not the actual cost of any new documents. However holidaymakers will often return to the UK, buy a new passport and be charged a pro-rata amount based on the unexpired portion of the passport. But this cost usually fell within the policy excess, leaving customers out of pocket and feeling aggrieved.
“Our cover offers the cost of travel and accommodation, and also pays a fixed amount towards the cost of the emergency documents. We don’t cover the cost of replacing the passport when the customer returns to the UK. We feel this is fairer because the customer has been reimbursed for the actual emergency costs incurred while on the trip, which is really what travel insurance should be about.
Holidaysafe.co.uk has collated from its customer feedback a theft checklist of ‘dos and don’ts’ to keep possessions safe to avoid a holiday horror story. The theft checklist includes:
- Make photocopies of passports and travel documents – before travelling on holiday, always take copies of important documents and then leave a copy with family or friends. This gives added security and saves time and money when obtaining replacements.
- Carry a small change purse, wear a moneybelt and keep a dummy wallet – they may not be a fashionable choice, but holidaymakers should carry their money or travel documents in a money belt (worn under clothes) to keep them safe. Carrying a change purse is a great way to pay for smaller items without flashing wallets every time. Fill this purse with some old cards, so if you are mugged you can simply hand this over as a ‘dummy’ wallet.
- Invest in travel insurance, and contact them if you suffer a theft – the insurance provider will be able to offer advice, support, and give advice on making a claim. If luggage is lost or stolen during the outward journey, some travel insurers will pay a small sum to cover the costs of buying essential items such as underwear and toiletries.
- Think twice about your destination – always take into account the health care in the country you’re planning to visit, would you feel safe if something went wrong and you needed medical treatment there?
- Invest in quality travel insurance – without travel insurance you could face enormous bills if something goes wrong abroad. Pregnancy is never considered ‘an illness’ it is a natural and wonderful thing, but every company has varying views on pregnancy and travel. Therefore it is important that you let your travel insurance provider know that you are pregnant, and check that they can cover your journey.
- Keep your important possessions in a locked safe – most hotel rooms offer a locked safe, and in this safe travellers should keep: passport (unless travelling in a country that expects tourists to keep it at all times); travel insurance documents; money or travellers cheques. Also keep in the safe a photocopy of any travel insurance documents and any medical prescriptions.
- Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible – it may seem obvious, but it is extremely important that thefts are reported to the police. Obtain a police report to send to the travel insurer. Travellers must remember to alert their bank, credit card company and mobile phone provider if necessary.
- Forget, travel insurers will not offer ‘new for old’ possessions cover – if a traveller does need to make a claim under the possessions section of the policy, be aware that travel insurers work to a sliding scale of value depending on the age of the item. Therefore customers will receive the amount the item is worth, but perhaps not the original purchase amount. It is also worth making sure any home and contents insurance provides cover on an ‘all risks’ basis for items away from the home.
- Leave your possessions unattended – again it may sound obvious, but many people don’t realise when they are putting their possessions at risk. For example, leaving them in a shared hostel room or leaving them on a sunbed is not safe. If the travel insurer feels that the possession was left at unnecessary risk, the claim may be denied.
- Travel against FCO advice – the Foreign Commonwealth Office publish up to date travel information about certain countries and locations, if they decide that a location is not safe to visit then it is best to avoid this destination. No travel Insurer will cover a destination which has been deemed unsafe by the FCO. Visit their website for more information, www.gov.uk/fco
- Trust anyone with your possessions – for example, never hand a passport over to a hospital or hostel, as some will hold the passport ‘ransom’ if bills are not immediately paid.
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