Accidents happen! As much as we like to hope otherwise, things can go wrong despite the best efforts taken to prevent it. Without the correct precautions in place, the simplest of setbacks can have a disastrous effect upon the trip overall, transforming what should be a relaxing and well-earned escape into something far more stressful.
However, there are plenty of ways to help avoid situations like this. While a good travel insurance policy will definitely make things much easier, you can prevent things getting that far in most instances by being ready ahead of time. With a little foresight, a touch of preparation and some common sense, you can either mitigate a problem or stop it from happening at all. Here we will go through the most common claims and how to prevent or deal with them.
It’s hard not to feel a twinge of doubt when waiting for your luggage at the airport carousel, with the thought that it may not actually arrive, leaving you stranded with nothing more than your carry-on luggage. However, there are many ways to prevent this from happening. Make sure the bags themselves are in good condition before you travel – if they are looking moderately dated or damaged, it might be time to replace them with durable materials or a new set all together.
Make sure to tag your items – put your name and details inside and outside of each and every bag. Remove all older and unnecessary destination stickers from your luggage to prevent confusion. Also, it might be a good idea to take photos of your luggage with your smart phone – both what it is carrying and the luggage itself. It may come in handy when describing your lost luggage. When you land, make your way to the luggage carousel as quickly as you can, without delay. The quicker you to claim your bag, the better. Don’t give it a chance to wander off without you.
If, however, your luggage is missing, report it immediately to airport personnel. Regardless of whether or not they manage to track it down, they should also be able to supply you with a filed report which you can then supply with your insurance claim –having that report will help you salvage the worst of the situation and get things back on track.
Lost or Stolen Money and Cards
When travelling, managing your finances can be made much more difficult due to accident or theft. The last situation you want to find yourself in is being in a foreign country without any means of funding yourself. Keep your wits about you and be prepared for such situations, but also keep in mind ways to minimise your risks.
Ensure you keep your credit cards and cash separate from one another on your person. If one is stolen, you will at least have the other to rely upon.
In some countries, pick-pocketing is a very real problem, and to avoid this keep your wallet and money in a safe place on your body – inside a zipped up or very tight pocket is a good place to start. Secure your bags and purses – if using public transport, keep the bags on your lap securely, holding them tightly. Avoid areas where you feel uncomfortable or crowded, or that simply look run down, unsavoury or untended.
Ensure you keep your credit cards and cash separate from one another on your person. If one is stolen, you will at least have the other to rely upon. But on that note, don’t carry all your credit cards with you either – keep them separate or use the hotel safe if you have one. It can be a safer option depending on your destination.
Ensure you have photocopies or photos of your credit cards and travel documents. If the items are stolen, you can use the photos/photocopies in securing a travel insurance claim. Make sure you fill out the claim as quickly as possible. Most good policies will have features to help you out in such a situation – be sure to check for these features when choosing your travel insurance.
As unfortunate as it is, there’s a chance you might succumb to illness when you travel which may lead you to some unforeseen medical expenses – whether it be catching a nasty bug, eating contaminated food or being involved in an accident. However, you may be able to minimise the risks with a bit of research beforehand.
Check with a GP or a travel doctor about the shots and boosters you might need, and talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the sort of dangers you might encounter at your destination.
Be fully aware of where it is you are going – some countries have dangerous diseases or unsafe water and food. In the case of disease, be sure to get vaccinated and do so thoroughly. Check with a GP or a travel doctor about the shots and boosters you might need, and talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the sort of dangers you might encounter at your destination. Schedule your vaccinations a few weeks in advance as well, to give leeway for adverse allergic reactions.
In the case of foods and water, follow any recommended guidelines – illnesses due to poorly-treated water and food are a very common problem so be smart about where and what you eat or drink. Bottled water is always a better choice over tap water, and in some places it is very, very important not to drink the local water and avoid ice cubes and uncooked food. Smart Traveller can provide guidance on health risks in your areas of travel.
If you have an existing medical condition, take a good supply of medication with you – getting it overseas might be very difficult or very expensive. However, you will need to keep it in the original packaging and be able to present authorities with a letter from your doctor explaining why you need it. Some countries might take exception to certain medication and specific amounts which they may believe excessive, so be aware ahead of time.
Overall, being aware about the risks you might take on your holiday is important – but accidents can happen, despite our best efforts. In this instance, you’re going to need travel insurance, or potentially be at the mercy of a very expensive medical bill. Make sure you have adequate cover with your policy for your intended destination and activities.
Cancelled Flights and Delays
If your flight is cancelled, chances are you will have to wait a while before it is rescheduled. For this reason, it is always worth checking your flight status ahead of time. Go online or contact the airline directly a few days before the departure date to be sure of any changes, and do so again on the day you depart to be sure that there has not been any last minute cancellation.
Booking your flights early in the day may also help you avoid delays and cancellations. Early flights and midweek flights are the least hectic for the airports – delays tend to get worse as the day goes on due to ‘flow on’ effects – previous delays can affect other flights, and you can end up bearing the brunt of it. Make sure you follow any and all luggage restrictions for the carry-on flight, and get to the airport well ahead of time to make sure you don’t get caught out.
What Should You Do?
If things do go wrong, you need to look to your travel insurance policy and follow the process correctly. Always be upfront and honest when making your claim, and be equally honest when taking the policy, such as disclosing pre-existing medical conditions. Know the details of your policy beforehand – take into account exclusions and make sure that the coverage is suitable for your destination.
Most importantly, keep everything. Every receipt and document pertaining to the claim and the events is important, and most will be vital to completing a successful claim. If you’ve had medical treatment, you will need to supply the original receipt and other documents obtained from the hospital. If you’ve had something stolen, you will need documentation supporting proof of ownership and the original police report as well. Lost luggage will need a lost baggage report and proof of ownership.
Be as detailed as you possibly can in your claim. Answer with as much information as possible, on another piece of paper if there isn’t enough room, and keep the handwriting legible, and answer every question. After all that is done – be patient. It can be frustrating, but being patient is the best course of action.
A bit of preparation, patience and careful planning will almost always go a long way – either making sure you never get caught out, or if you do, that you have a safety net to fall back on. Be smart, and be safe – and enjoy the trip.