The level of satisfaction people seem to have with their travel insurance purchases appears, unsurprisingly, to be directly related to their level of satisfaction with the claims process. Those who purchase travel insurance and don’t need to file a claim generally seem to report that they’re satisfied with the purchase, as do those who file claims and find that they are resolved quickly and to the benefit of the traveler. Travelers whose claims are denied, or who feel that the process was cumbersome and unhelpful to them, are obviously less happy overall with their travel insurance purchase.
Unfortunately, a negative claims experience can not only ruin your perception of your travel insurance purchase, but can even deter some people from buying travel insurance again at all. Since travel insurance can be an incredibly useful and helpful purchase for many types of trips, and many different types of travelers, it’s not advisable to simply rule it out because of one bad claims experience (or a rumor you may have heard about someone’s bad claims experience). While travel insurance companies, like all companies, may occasionally make mistakes when they’re assessing claims, more often than not there are things travelers can do to give themselves every opportunity to have the claims process work in their favor. Errors on the part of the customer, either in purchasing their policy or in completing the claims process itself, are sometimes at the root of an unsatisfactory claims experience.
Key things to understand about the claims process that can help you avoid a travel insurance claims issue include:
- Research travel insurance options thoroughly before you purchase, and make sure that you’re educated about what travel insurance policies provide.
- Ask questions about the specific travel insurance policy you are considering purchasing and read ratings and reviews from other travelers about that policy if they are available.
- Make sure to disclose any information you think might be relevant to your travel insurance purchase before you buy a policy – this might include things like pre-existing medical conditions (yours or a family member’s), charter arrangements, or plans to participate in unusual activities like scuba diving or mountain climbing.
- Purchase your travel insurance policy as soon as possible after you’ve made your initial payment on your trip. A timely purchase will ensure that you’re eligible for time-sensitive benefits. In general, a good rule of thumb is to try to purchase your travel insurance policy within 14 days of your initial trip payment to have the best array of options.
- Make sure to read your travel insurance policy thoroughly to understand all the coverages and exclusions. If there are errors or misspellings, notify your travel insurance provider immediately.
- Keep in touch with your travel insurance provider before you depart, to communicate any changes to your travel plans. Of particular importance are changes to the dates you’ll be traveling, different destinations, or an increase in your trip cost.
- Keep all receipts and documentation for any expenses associated with your trip, both before and during your travels.
- If you receive medical treatment outside your home country, be sure to obtain copies of your medical records from that facility before you return home. It’s often difficult to get those records after the fact, and they will be needed if you’re filing a claim.
- Make sure to provide all requested documentation when you’re filing a claim. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about exactly what you’ll be expected to provide, and fulfill that expectation in a timely and efficient manner to help the process go smoothly.
- Ask questions about the claims process, time frames, and methods of communication. Also, keep a record of significant dates and times, along with notes about your conversations and the names of any people you speak with regarding your travel insurance claim.
While there are no guarantees that a travel insurance claim will always be resolved in your favor, if you follow these tips and are proactive about your role in the process, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of avoiding disappointment should you have to file a claim.