Anyone who travels, either for business or pleasure, can tell you that occasionally things go wrong. Bags get lost, flights get cancelled, or a medical emergency can occur, like testing positive for COVID-19.
These kinds of unexpected situations are inevitable. That’s life! Which is why many travelers aptly decide to insure their trips with a travel insurance policy.
It’s important to understand that policies differ. Some will include only travel medical and trip interruption coverage, while other comprehensive policies will offer trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, baggage and personal items coverage and more.
No matter which travel insurance policy or coverage you purchase, it’s just as important to understand the process for filing a claim and the time limits to do so to ensure you receive your reimbursements.
Timeline for Reimbursements
So, let’s get right to it. How soon do you need to submit your travel insurance claim?
You’ll need to keep in mind that the time-frame for submitting a claim will vary depending on the insurance company and the specific policy you hold, but generally, you’ll have somewhere between 20 and 90 days from the date of your loss to submit it.
Understandably, it’s not always easy to gather the documents you need and file the claim right away, especially when traveling abroad, but the key is to not procrastinate and wait too long. Submit your claim as soon as you’re able to or read in advance the terms of your policy to find out how long you have to file the claim before it’s too late and gets denied.
How to Submit a Travel Insurance Claim
Most reputable travel insurance companies make it easy and painless to submit a claim, and you can typically do so online or on the phone with a representative.
These online claim forms will typically ask for some general information, such as the travel insurance claim type (which we’ll review in the next section), your contact information, details about your claim incident and loss (such as flight cancellation reasons), and expenses.
You’ll also need to upload documents that support your claim. For example, if your trip is cancelled due to serious illness, you’ll need to provide documents from your doctor or hospitalization records. Or if your flight is cancelled due to severe weather, you’ll need documentation from the airline notifying you of the cancellation.
And of course, you’ll need documentation for prepaid expenses, or any costs incurred, like hotel or meal receipts, for which you expect to be reimbursed.
Types of Travel Insurance Claims and What You’ll Need
The first thing you’ll be asked when submitting your travel insurance claim is what type of claim it is. Here are some common types of travel insurance claims and what you’ll need when filing a claim for each one.
Trip cancellation is the most common type of travel insurance. When something unexpected occurs and you’re unable to travel, such as a death in the family, a medical emergency, or some other reason that’s covered by your policy, you’re entitled to reimbursement for at risk non-refundable costs associated with your trip that you insured.
For this type of claim, you’ll be required to provide proof of loss, such as a doctor’s note if it’s a medical emergency, or a photocopy of the death certificate if there was a death in the family.
You’ll need proof of payment (how you paid for the trip). This includes photocopies of processed checks, cash receipts, or credit card statements.
You’ll also be required to provide a photocopy of airline tickets, itemized payments and invoices or receipts, and refunds.
Trip interruption insurance is for when your trip is either cut short or extended due to unexpected events. For example, if you’re stuck at your destination longer than anticipated because you’re required to quarantine due to a positive Covid test, or if you’re severely sick and need to go home, you may be eligible for coverage. Trip interruption travel insurance plans will cover costs incurred from reasons covered in your policy.
What you’ll need when filing a trip interruption claim is similar to a trip cancellation claim. If there was a medical emergency, you’ll need documentation from a doctor or a hospital. You’ll need photocopies of airline tickets, proof of payment, and other itemized invoices and receipts, depending on the specific reason.
If you have unused and non-refundable expenses, such as paid tours or activities, your claim documentation will need to include your itinerary and proof of tickets.
Travel medical insurance provides medical coverage for unexpected medical expenses that may not be covered by your health insurance. Supplemental (or secondary) medical insurance can also help cover deductibles. Per person benefits have their limits, which can range from $15,000 to $250,000 or more. This type of insurance can also help when traveling to high-risk countries that may not be covered by your health insurance.
In your medical expense claim form, you’ll be required to provide the reason why you sought medical care and any photocopies of medical documents regarding the diagnosis related to the injury or sickness.
You’ll need photocopies of medical expense receipts, how you paid for these expenses, proof of the initial trip deposit (if the sickness is pre-existing), and verification of travel arrangements.
Baggage Loss and Delay
As you can guess, this type of travel insurance reimburses you for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage and personal items for the entire trip (and not just the flight). As with most travel insurance policy types, expect exclusions and limitations.
When filing a baggage loss and delay claim, you’ll need verification of travel arrangements, such as photocopies of your trip itinerary and boarding pass. You’ll need verification of the loss, theft, or damage, such as a filed report with the airline or hotel, for example.
You’ll also need photocopies of the original purchase receipts for the items, if available. For baggage delay claims, you’ll be required to provide the written statement from the airline or cruise regarding the luggage delay as well as documentation from the airline if they’ll be reimbursing the expense.
Just remember that no matter what type of claim you’re making, whether it’s baggage loss and delay or trip cancellation, you’re going to need sufficient documentation to back up your claim. Keep track of all your receipts and email correspondences from flights, tours, and trip purchases to ensure you’re prepared if you need to make a claim. The more documents you have, the easier it will be.
How Long Do Claim Submissions Take?
Once you submit your claim, you may be wondering how long it’ll take to be received and reviewed, and more importantly, how long it’ll take for you to be reimbursed.
This will vary depending on the travel insurance company, but generally, it can take anywhere between one to two weeks for the claim to be reviewed and for you to receive communication regarding your claim, such as a claim approval or a request for additional documentation.
The complexity of the claim can also determine how long it will take. A more complicated claim with lots of documentation will typically take longer to process than a simple and straightforward claim.
If your claim is approved, the travel insurance company will issue a check or a direct deposit shortly after the approval.
If you purchased a travel insurance plan, whether it’s for trip cancellation or medical coverage, always read the details about your policy so you’re fully prepared if the unexpected happens.
And above all, don’t delay on submitting your claim.
You can visit TravelInsurance.com to compare plans and purchase travel insurance from top providers for the lowest prices and convenience when it comes to filing claims.
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