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With news about delayed luggage, cancelled flights, and long queues at airports dominating the headlines recently, we’ve pulled together some information on what to do if your trip is affected by any of the above, and the cover to look out for in your policy.
Missing your flight or other mode of transport is often known as ‘missed departure’ in travel policies, and can often apply to either your outbound or inbound trip. However, despite cover for missed departures often being available for both the outward and inward leg of a trip, the amount you can claim up to may differ depending on whether you miss your departure on your outbound journey, or on your way back to the UK.
Missed departure protection covers you in the event that you fail to arrive at your final departure point on time and miss your flight, ferry, cruise* or train due to disruption caused by industrial action, bad weather (not including anything listed as a natural catastrophe), a technical fault of your transportation, if the flight you are travelling on is diverted, a shortage of crew, and if the vehicle you are travelling in is involved in an accident, breaks down, or is delayed by an incident that causes traffic jams or road closures.
If you miss your departure due to any of the reasons above, you will be able to submit a claim for additional travel and accommodation costs to get you to your holiday destination, provided the delay causes you to miss pre-booked transportation and you can supply the necessary evidence.
Alternatively, if the only reasonable alternative transport means you will lose more than 50% of your trip, you can claim for unused travel and accommodation costs under ‘Cutting Short Your Trip – If you have to cut short your trip’.
However, it’s worth being aware that if you miss your departure due to reasons caused by the airline, you will need to get in touch with them first to see if any compensation is available, before contacting your insurer.
You should also always allow plenty of time to reach your departure point and allow reasonable additional time for unexpected delays.
If your trip is cancelled and your holiday is part of a package deal (e.g., where you have booked at least two different types of services through a tour operator (for example, flights and accommodation) then you should contact your tour operator for a refund in the first instance, as they are responsible for providing you with a full refund under the Package Travel Regulations Act.
If you booked your holiday independently (e.g., separate flights and accommodation), you will need to contact your transport and accommodation providers to see if you are able to recover any costs.
If you cannot get your money back through your tour operator, airline or accommodation provider, and you booked your holiday on a credit card, then you might be able to recover your lost costs back through your credit card company, provided the trip cost over £100. Additionally, if you booked your trip with a debit card, you may also be able to claim any lost costs back through your bank.
If all of the above providers are unable to offer a refund or alternative option, then you should contact your insurer and submit a claim for consideration. The reason your travel insurer is the last option to contact is because the trip provider(s) are contractually responsible for providing you with the service you paid for. Therefore, if the trip cannot go ahead, they have a responsibility to either move your trip dates or reimburse you. Additionally, most providers have protection in place for travellers caught up in scenarios as detailed above. You also won’t be required to pay any policy excess by claiming through other providers, such as the airline, which ultimately works in your favour.
That being said, if you are on the outward leg of your journey from the UK and are delayed for more than 12 hours due to industrial action, bad weather (excluding those listed as natural catastrophes), a technical fault of transportation, or a shortage of crew, then you may be covered to abandon your trip and claim for any unused travel and/or accommodation costs from your travel insurance provider.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you are stood at the luggage carousel with your suitcase nowhere to be seen, the first thing you must do is report the loss to your airline and/or tour operator, and complete a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ (PIR) form before you leave the airport. You must keep a copy of your PIR as you may be asked to submit this as evidence, should you claim. Make sure that you have provided the correct contact details and that you understand the luggage recovery process with your airline.
If, after you are reunited with your luggage, you notice that property is missing, then you should notify the loss or theft to the police, as well as the transport provider or tour operator, as soon as possible. You must get a written report of the belongings that you are missing, ensuring the report specifies the date and time that the incident took place as you will be asked to provide this as evidence. This process will also apply if any of your belongings go missing or get stolen during your trip.
As part of the claims process, you should be prepared to share evidence of ownership of any items that you are claiming for. You may also be required to prove the value or age of certain belongings that you are claiming for. Evidence of ownership could include a copy of the receipt, a gift receipt, a bank or credit card statement, email confirmation, or insurance valuation certificates, as a few examples.
You should also be aware that belongings may be categorised differently in the policy and therefore have different cover limits. For example, valuables, such as jewellery comes under the ‘valuables’ section of the policy. Whereas phones and laptops are listed under the ‘gadget’ section. These each have different amounts that you can claim up to, depending on the item.
In some cases, it is more beneficial for you to claim under other insurances that you may have available as the cover limits exceed those in your travel policy. For example, if your ring was to go missing, you may have more cover under your home insurance policy than your travel insurance policy (travel insurers know that great protection is available to travellers, which is why cover limits for personal possessions are generally lower in a travel policy). It’s also worth knowing any items of high valuable (valuables, gadgets, cash etc) that go missing as a result of being left unattended or whilst in checked in with your airline won’t be covered under the policy.
For this very reason, we urge you not to pack any valuables or items of worth in (including essential medication) your checked-in luggage and, where possible, to instead carry it in your hand luggage and keep it on you at all times.
If your checked-in luggage is delayed arriving at your holiday destination by at least 12 hours, you will be able to claim for a contribution towards the cost or hire of any essential items until you are reunited with your belongings. You must keep the receipts for any items you buy and wish to claim for during this time.
If, however, you later discover your baggage is actually lost, then you can submit a claim under the ‘Personal Baggage’ section of your policy, and follow the process stated above (if you lose your luggage).
Travel insurance is there to protect you against scenarios that could not have been foreseen or expected and for costs that cannot be recovered from elsewhere. For this reason, travellers often find that additional protection is provided by their tour operator and airline, for when holidays are disrupted by common occurrences.
Where compensation is recoverable elsewhere, most travel insurers (including Holidaysafe), will ask for proof that you are unable to receive compensation from the provider that was unable to deliver the service that you paid for.
Travel insurance policies are designed to provide financial protection in the event you suffer a loss. Therefore, if you can get a refund, move your trip, or receive a credit note to rebook your trip at a later date from your travel provider, this will reduce the financial loss you need to claim back. In most cases, travel insurance steps in when you are unable to recover lost costs or need emergency medical treatment abroad, provided you have the relevant cover in your policy.
*You may need a cruise extension to claim for this benefit. Please check your policy wording.
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