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Travel insurance claims guide - what to do, what receipts to keep and more

Travel insurance claims guide - what to do, what receipts to keep and more
PHOTO: Pexels

It’ll always be a hassle to fill up forms and rustle up the required documents, but just like waxing your legs, if you already know exactly what to do and how to prepare, the entire process can be relatively quick and painless — sup sup sui!

How to make travel insurance claims

So the thing about travel insurance is that people only remember it when something unpleasant messes up their travel plans.

Then, we panic and scramble when the insurer asks for things like the purchase receipt of a DSLR bought six years ago.

Sound familiar? If yes, here’s a pro-tip — be familiar with what you can and can’t claim for, and make sure you have a rough idea of the supporting documents needed.

It’s good practice to have a copy of your insurance policy on your phone, so you can always check it as and when you need it, even on the go.

Some travellers also have a habit of snapping photos of their luggage and belongings before the trip, just in case anything gets lost, delayed or damaged.

The exact claim procedure will depend on your insurance provider, but generally, the process goes like this:

1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible

Depending on your policy, there is usually a time limit as to how long you can wait to give written notice about your intention to claim.

Usually, it’s 30 days, but even then you shouldn’t be taking your time. Remember that you may need to get others involved, like the police or your GP, and that will take time.

2. Download and fill up the travel insurance claim forms

Not all travel claims forms are made equal. Make sure you know what you’re claiming for – if you’re claiming on medical grounds, or if there was a delay or cancellation, or even if it’s both.

Choosing the right form is important because leaving any blanks in the form could cause delays in the claim process.

Also note that, for claims that are a result of illness, injury or death, you may need a GP or Specialist to fill up sections of the form for you.

Yes, that means even if you’re claiming for travel cancellation due to sickness, you will need to get your GP or Specialist to certify that your illness did not exist, or that you were not aware of it, before booking the trip.

3. Prepare your supporting documents

This is the biggest cause of delayed or rejected claims, so make sure you have everything you need before filing the claim.

Other than a completed claim form and a copy of the policy/certificate of insurance, you will also need to include your passport/itinerary to prove that you had travelled or at least made travel plans.

Then there’s a whole list of supporting documents you’ll need to provide depending on the type of claim you’re making.

Type of travel insurance claim  Supporting documents needed 
Personal accident and medical expenses Original medical bills and receipts, medical report or discharge summary stating date, cause and nature of injury/illness, police report (for accidents) 
Loss of personal belongings  Police report of lost items, property loss irregularity report, original purchase invoice and/or warranty card 
Damaged personal belongings  Property damage irregularity report, photos of damaged items, diagnostic report from repairer stating cause and extent of damage, repair bill or quotation, original purchase invoice and/or warranty card 
Baggage delay  Written confirmation from carrier/airline on period of delay or baggage return acknowledgement
Travel disruptions (delays, overbooking, etc)  Written confirmation from the airline/carrier, written confirmation from the tour agent/carrier/hotel on amount refunded and additional charges
Travel cancellation or curtailment  Written confirmation from tour agent/carrier/hotel on the extra charges incurred, hotel accommodation confirmation advice or travel deposit receipt
Travel cancellation or curtailment (if death or sickness is the cause) Death certificate, proof of relationship with the person who is sick or dead, medical report certifying the diagnosis and that the insured is not fit to travel
Rental vehicle excess and other related expenses  Rental vehicle agreement, police report/evidence of motor accident (e.g. hotographs), original excess payment receipt, repair bills
Personal liability  Letter of claim or documents received from the third party, photographs of damaged third party property

Generally, if it requires a police report, you will need to report it to the local police within 24 hours of the incident.

Also, if you intend to claim for belongings that were damaged or stolen, you’d need to produce the original purchase receipts and photos of it to prove that you own these items.

If you are a hardcore “KonMari” fan and have tossed the receipts for all your fancy gadgets — cameras, laptops, etc — then it’s best not to travel with these items.

4. If you get Covid-19 before, during or after your trip, prepare these additional documents

Travel insurance providers these days have extended their coverage for Covid-19, but at a cost.

It’s usually a $20 to $40 dollar add-on, and you need to check if your insurer requires you to take and receive a negative PCR test result immediately after buying your policy.

In the event that you do catch Covid-19 before, during or after your trip, here are the things you need to do:

Type of travel insurance claim  Supporting documents & actions needed
Covid-19 before your trip
  • Show your insurer that you have tried to get a refund from the vendor but was denied, or only partially refunded
Covid-19 during your trip
  • Doctor’s memo stating that you have caught Covid-19 and you require treatment
  • Fully vaccinated status
  • Flight itinerary or boarding pass
  • Medical report or inpatient discharge summary
  • Original medical bills
Covid-19 after your trip
  • Tap into existing government subsidies
  • Make health insurance claims via MediShield Life, Integrated Shield plans or private health insurance
  • Symptoms or diagnosis should be within 14 days of your return to Singapore

5. Submit your travel insurance claims online, in person or via snail mail 

Once you’ve got everything you need, you can officially file the claim. Most insurers now have online platforms for easy submission, which is great for the younger, more tech-savvy crowd.

I’ve personally done medical expenses claims via FWD’s website and it was surprisingly fast and seamless.

For those who prefer to do it offline, you can either mail your documents over or head down to the branch office directly.

How long will my travel insurance claims take?

Typically, claims take a week to a month to be processed. The first thing to do is to make sure they’ve received your supporting documents.

If you haven’t heard anything from them in two weeks, you should definitely be proactive and contact your insurer.

The last thing you want to hear is that they hadn’t even started processing your claims because you left something out, and weren’t informed.

My travel insurance claims got denied. Can I appeal?

Yes, you can. If your claims were denied, the insurer is obligated to provide you with a valid reason and the grounds for their decision. Once you get that, you can then request for a claims appeal.

What happens moving forward depends on the insurer and how they handle your case, but let’s be honest here: There is always a conflict of interest when making an insurance claim.

Your agenda is to get as much compensation as possible. An insurance company’s agenda is to reduce your claim as much as possible. So yes, you can appeal, but it may not always be successful.

ALSO READ: Insurance claims in Singapore: How they work & what you need to submit

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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