How to make a travel insurance claim

If something goes wrong while you’re on holiday and you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, the last thing you need is for it to be turned down. Read our guide on how to make a claim to ensure it’s as hassle-free and successful as possible...

If something goes wrong while you’re on holiday and you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, the last thing you need is for it to be turned down. Read our guide on how to make a claim to ensure it’s as hassle-free and successful as possible...

Written by
Josh Daniels
Last Updated
14 JUNE 2022
11 min read
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When can I make a claim?

When you take out travel insurance, you’ll find a list of what you can claim for in your policy documents. Make sure you check the level of cover and the maximum amount you can claim for each.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy will usually cover:

  • Loss of baggage
  • Theft
  • Cancellation
  • Medical treatment
  • Public liability
  • Delays.

Check your policy to see if you need to pay an excess towards the cost of a claim. For example, if your £50 watch gets stolen but you have an excess of £100, then it’s probably not worth making a claim on your policy.

Read our guide to see what is and isn’t covered by a typical travel insurance policy.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean any claim you make is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

How do I make a claim?

If you need to make a claim, you should contact your insurance provider as soon as you can. There’ll be a deadline to make a claim from the time of the incident. You’ll find this in your policy documents.

When you speak to your provider, you’ll need to give them your policy number and details of the incident. You’ll then need to fill out a claim form detailing what happened and what you’re claiming for. You should be able to do this online. If not, your provider will post a form to you.

Along with your claim form, you’ll need to submit copies of any evidence to back up your claim – receipts, for example. Make sure you keep a copy of the claim form for your own records and hang on to all your original evidence in case anything is queried down the line.

Making a claim while you’re travelling

Make sure you always take a copy of your policy documents with you when you travel. It will include your policy number (which you’ll need to make a claim) and your insurance provider’s contact details. Many travel insurance providers will have an emergency contact number you can use if you need to call from abroad.

If you’re travelling, your insurance provider should be able to email you a claim form or send you a link to download one from their website.

Making a claim when you get home

It’s tempting to wait until you get home to make a claim, but before you decide to put it on the backburner, make sure you’ll be within the agreed time limits for making a claim on your policy.

Whether you’re at home or abroad, check the following before you submit your claim:

  • Read the policy terms and any small print to make sure your claim is covered by your travel insurance policy
  • Check the excess to see if it’s worth making a claim
  • Is it a new for old policy? If not, your insurance provider will take off money for wear and tear, so the amount you’ll get in a claim may be less than it costs to replace your belongings.

Making a claim for lost, stolen or damaged items or luggage

If your luggage is lost or damaged in transit, report it to the airline before you leave the airport. You’ll need to fill out any necessary forms and take copies to support your travel insurance claim. Make sure you get an official report or a “property irregularity report (PIR)” from the airline or their handling agent.

If your baggage is delayed and you need to buy essential items to tide you over, keep the receipts and include copies with your claim.

If your belongings are stolen while you’re on holiday, you’ll need to report the theft to the police within 24 hours and get a copy of the police report, with a crime reference number to include with your claim. If that isn’t possible, you’ll need to show why – by proving that the local police station was closed, for example – and speak to someone else like the hotel manager or a tour operator to get a written report.

You’ll often need to include proof of purchase for any lost or stolen possessions you’re claiming for, whether that’s the original receipt, an email receipt, or a copy of a bank or credit card statement showing the purchase. It’s worth taking with you digital copies of receipts for your most valuable possessions, in case you won’t make it home before the claim deadline.

Travel insurance typically excludes claims for lost luggage resulting from your negligence or carelessness. For example, if your bag was stolen while left unattended, your claim will likely be rejected. So keep a watchful eye on all your belongings.

Making a claim for medical emergencies and personal injury

If you need medical treatment while on holiday, contact your insurance provider and get them to agree to any treatment in advance. If it’s an emergency and that’s not possible, call your insurance provider as soon as you can. They’ll be able to liaise with the hospital to make sure you’re getting the care you need, and they can also help with translation and repatriation, if needed.

You may have to pay up front for medical treatment and medication, up to a certain limit. If you do, keep all the receipts so you can claim back the costs on your travel insurance.

Remember that you’ll need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when you take out travel insurance.

Making a claim if you need to cancel or cut your trip short

You’ll only be able to claim for cancelling or cutting short your trip under certain circumstances. These will be set out in your policy and may include:

  • An unexpected death of a close relative
  • If you or someone you’re travelling with suffers a serious illness or injury
  • There’s a fire, burglary or flood in your home shortly before your trip
  • You’re made redundant
  • You’re called up to jury service or as a witness in court
  • You become pregnant after booking the trip or have been advised not to travel due to pregnancy
  • If your travel insurance policy includes COVID-19 cover, you may be able to make a claim for cancelling your holiday if you test positive in the 14-days prior to travel or are denied boarding as you’re showing symptoms.

If you need to cut short your trip, you’ll usually only get a refund for any unused time in your holiday accommodation and the extra travel costs to get home, along with other non-refundable expenses such as excursions or airport parking.

What evidence will I need when making a claim?

Supporting evidence can include receipts for anything lost or stolen. If you’re claiming for a delayed flight, you’ll need proof that you bought a ticket for that particular flight, such as a boarding pass. If you’re claiming for a cancelled trip because you have to serve on a jury or be a witness in a court case, you’ll need proof from the court. For medical expenses, you’ll need paperwork from the healthcare facility where you were treated. And if you’re cancelling because of a death or serious illness or injury in the family, you’ll need to provide a death certificate or medical certificate.

Your policy documents should clearly set out what evidence is required to make a claim.

It's a good idea to take photos of any valuables you’re taking with you and create digital copies of receipts so you can use them as evidence if you need to make a claim. You’ll also need a crime reference number or incident report from the local police if you’re claiming for the theft of personal belongings or money.

You should also take copies of important documents, such as your passport, as well as any bookings you’ve made in advance.

It’s important you keep a record of any conversations/correspondence you have with your insurance provider, in case there’s any dispute with your claim.

Can my claim be denied?

A travel insurance claim could be turned down for a number of reasons, such as:

  • You failed to accurately declare any pre-existing medical conditions when taking out a policy.
  • An incident happened when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • You failed to get the recommended vaccinations before you travel and fall ill as a result.
  • If your provider feels an accident resulted from reckless behaviour or lack of reasonable care. This can also be the case if you don’t have the correct level of cover. For example, an accident caused by a high-risk activity that’s not covered by your policy, such as hang-gliding or horse riding.
  • If your possessions are stolen because you’ve left them unattended, for example on the front seat of a car.
  • Not providing adequate supporting documentation, such a police report.

You can reduce the possibility of having your claim rejected by filling in the details as accurately as possible when you complete a travel insurance quote.

What can I do if my travel insurance claim is rejected?

You’re entitled to a clear explanation of why your claim was rejected. If, after reading the explanation and checking the small print of your policy carefully, you think the decision is unfair, you can make a formal complaint to your travel insurance provider by following their internal complaints procedure.

If you don’t agree with their final response you have six months to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Or if you’ve complained and the insurance provider hasn’t responded within the set time limits, you can also take the complaint to the FOS.

See more about complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Our top tips for making a successful travel insurance claim

  1. Find a travel insurance policy that gives you the cover you need. Look at how much excess you’ll have to pay and the maximum you can claim for individual items, for example. Make sure you have cover for any sports or activities you’re planning on holiday.
  2. Take copies of important documents and any bookings you’ve made. Source proof of purchase for any valuables you’re taking with you and save them in a format that you can access while you’re travelling.
  3. Stay safe while you’re travelling. Some things are completely out of our control, but you can reduce your chances of needing to make a claim by taking certain precautions, such as keeping a watchful eye on your luggage and storing your valuables in a safe place.
  4. If you need to make a claim, the more evidence you can give to your insurance provider, the better.
  5. Check the claim deadline. Be sure you can make your claim within the stated time limits for your policy.
  6. Be accurate. Take the time to complete claims form accurately, as any false, inaccurate or misleading information could potentially lead to your claim being rejected.

Compare travel insurance

Start a quote with us and we’ll help you find the right travel insurance.  Just enter your details and tell us about any pre-existing medical conditions. We’ll show you the travel insurance policies we have available so you can find the right policy for your needs.  

Frequently asked questions

Can I find travel insurance with no excess?

Yes, you can find travel insurance with no excess, sometimes called travel insurance with excess waiver, although you’ll have less choice when you compare policies.

Bear in mind that you may have to pay a fee upfront for the excess waiver when you take out your policy. And even with an excess waiver, there may be some situations where you still have to pay an excess. Check the excess waiver section of your policy for details.

Who should I contact about cancelled flights? My insurance provider or my airline?

If the airline cancels your flight, they have to offer you either a full refund or an alternative flight. Read about your rights if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

You’ll need to claim through your travel insurance if you’re going to miss excursions or prebooked accommodation because of a cancelled flight, unless you booked your flight and accommodation as a package deal.

Can I claim on my travel insurance if I have to cancel due to COVID-19?

Some travel insurance policies now include cover for COVID-19. For example, if you have to cancel your holiday because you test positive in the 14 days before you’re due to fly.

When you compare travel insurance with us, you can see what COVID-19 cover is offered by selecting the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page.

Can I make a claim on my travel insurance if my airline or accommodation goes bust?

If you book a package holiday through a tour operator or agency, you should be covered by ATOL or ABTA protection schemes.

If you book your flights and accommodation separately, some travel insurance policies will include cover known as end supplier failure, which could protect you if your airline or hotel goes out of business. Some policies include this as standard, although many don’t. Check your policy to be sure.

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