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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 on your travel insurance 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 on your travel insurance to ensure it’s as hassle-free and successful as possible...

Written by
Helen Phipps
Insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
26 JUNE 2023
11 min read
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What can you claim on travel insurance?

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 travel insurance covers.

How to claim travel insurance

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.

What evidence will I need to claim travel on insurance?

That will depend on the type of claim you’re making. Here are some examples of evidence you’ll need:

1. Loss of baggage or personal belongings

  • Receipts or another form of proof of purchase
  • Photos of the items in your possession etc.

2. Theft

  • Receipts or another form of proof of purchase
  • A police report
  • Witness statements, CCTV or other video footage

3. Holiday cancellation

  • A jury or court summons
  • A death or medical certificate

4. Flight delay/cancellation

  • Booking confirmation
  • Boarding pass

5. Medical treatment

  • Paperwork from the healthcare facility where you were treated
  • Medical bills/invoices

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

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.

When to make a travel insurance claim

Each travel insurance provider will have a travel insurance claim time limit. This means, ideally, you should claim as soon as you can.

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. This means the amount you’ll get in a claim may be less than it costs to replace your belongings.

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. However, 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.

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 baggage 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. Make sure you 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. You should then 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. This could be the original receipt, an email receipt, or a copy of a bank or credit card statement showing the purchase. It’s worth taking 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.

Claiming on travel insurance due to illness 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 a medical emergency and that’s not possible, call your insurance provider helpline as soon as you can. The phone number should be in your policy documents. They’ll be able to liaise with the hospital to make sure you’re getting the care you need. They can also help with translation and repatriation, if needed.

You may have to pay any medical expenses up front, 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.

How to claim travel insurance if you need to cancel or cut your trip short

You’ll only be able to claim for cancelling a holiday, or cutting it short, 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. This could be 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
  • extra travel costs to get home
  • other non-refundable expenses such as excursions or airport parking.

How long do travel insurance claims take?

That depends on the insurance provider and the type of claim you’re making.

During the peak summer travelling season, claims may take longer than in the quieter winter months. However, you should expect to hear something from your provider within a couple of weeks.

That’s why it’s best to make your claim as soon as possible and provide as much detail and supporting evidence as you can. This will help make the claims process as fast and smooth as possible.

Can travel insurance claims 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 as 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. Read the explanation and check the small print of your policy carefully. If you still 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. For example, 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 travel insurance claim time limit.
  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.

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 your claim 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.

Compare travel insurance

Start a quote with us and we’ll help you find the right travel insurance for you.  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

Is it worth claiming on travel insurance?

Yes, if you have the right travel insurance policy, it could be well worth making a claim.

Medical treatment abroad can be eye-wateringly expensive, which makes a good travel insurance policy well worth claiming on. However, for other claim types, you need to factor in the policy excess. This is the amount you must contribute towards a claim.

For example, if you’re only claiming for a £50 bag but your policy excess is £100, it wouldn’t be worth making a claim. Make sure you read your policy wording carefully, as different claim types may have a different excess amount.

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.

You’ll need to claim through your travel insurance if you’re going to miss excursions or pre-booked accommodation because of a cancelled flight. The only exception is if you booked your flight and accommodation as a package deal.

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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Helen Phipps - insurance expert

Having worked in both sides of the industry, Helen’s a real insurance expert. She’s worked directly with several insurance providers and now Compare the Market. She’s always searching for the cheapest prices for customers and is passionate about saving people money. Being married with two kids, Helen knows all about the cost of living and the benefits of having the right products and insurance for the whole family.

Learn more about Helen