Years ago, I wrote a post about my ‘hunt for travel insurance‘. I looked at several different companies and ended up picking World Nomads travel insurance as the appropriate option for me. Even as I wrote the post, I was resentful that I had to consider buying insurance. I’d been paying for health and auto insurance for years and never had to file a claim, now I had to pay for insurance to travel?
Well, after four years of travel, I’ve finally had to file a claim. As some of you may know, I recently ruined my camera while kayaking down the Lang River in northern Thailand. Long story short, I took a risk and lost my camera as a result. My fault, right?
Still, I decided to file a travel insurance claim. Never having filed one before, I wasn’t sure how it would go. But since World Nomads’ Explorer plan covers extreme activities including kayaking, I figured it couldn’t hurt to go through the motions. I just got the verdict: my claim was just approved!
Here are some tips for when the unexpected happens, and you find yourself needing to file a travel insurance claim.
Know your policy
Travel insurance varies from company to company and from plan to plan. When you’re choosing a plan, make sure you keep in mind the kind of coverage you’re looking for. What activities will you be doing? What countries will you be traveling to? Are there any exclusions your travel insurance won’t cover?
When you need to make a claim, refer back to your summary of plan benefits to get an idea if whatever has happened is something that will be covered under your plan.
Keep copies of everything!
Receipts, booking confirmations, medical bills, damaged gear… if you have something relating to whatever it is you’re claiming, KEEP IT. You will need extensive documentation to successfully file a claim, and the more prepared you are, the better.
I got lucky — I misplaced the receipt for the replacement camera I purchased, but was able to provide screenshots of the camera on the store’s web page, corroborated by a copy of my credit card statement, as an alternative. Your claim examiner might not be so lenient, so keep those receipts!
If there’s a chance of approval, file
I wasn’t so sure my claim would get approved. When I looked at my policy, I could see reasons it should be and reasons it might not be. Which brings us to this point: even if it seems like a slight chance, file anyways! Worst case scenario: your claim is denied, and you’re out a little bit of time and effort. But — chances are — you’re not a claim examiner, so even if you have doubts about whether or not your claim will be approved, it doesn’t hurt to make the attempt.
File a claim as soon as possible
These types of things are best resolved quickly. Both for your benefit (you probably need that money, if you’re a backpacker!), and to make it easier for the claim examiner to get all of the necessary information. Plus, most policies have a window of time after an incident where you can make a claim. Outside of that window, well, you’re out of luck.
Be courteous to the claims examiner
It’s easy to forget with the Internet, but the claims examiner has feelings too. Being rude or demanding will do you no favors. As someone who worked in retail for years, I can say that, if someone was polite, I would feel more inclined to help them. If they came into my store being an obnoxious, ‘but the customer is always right!’ type of person, they usually didn’t get too far.
Provide as many details as possible
When you’re filing your claim, don’t skimp on the details. Dates, times, locations, step-by-step accounts, weather conditions, etc. Anything that might be relevant should be mentioned in your claim. This decreases the back-and-forth and gives the claim examiner a full picture right off the bat.
Unfortunately, travel insurance can be a bit like politics and glaciers: it takes a bit of time for things to happen. File your claim as completely as possible, then kick back and relax. It might take a while, but if your claim is valid and you’ve submitted everything, it will hopefully be worth it!
World Nomads Travel Insurance
My travel insurance of choice is World Nomads. They’re a low-cost, comprehensive option geared towards backpackers and people who participate in adventure sports. On top of that, they’re a socially conscious company. If, after you’ve done your own research, you’d like to get travel insurance through them, please consider signing up through the form below. You’ll receive the standard rate, but World Nomads will give me a small commission. Thanks so much!
How about you? Any tips for filing a travel insurance claim? Or any recommendations for a good travel insurance option? Let me know in the comments below!