Either you’re reading this because you’re very prepared for your journey, or you’re in a hot situation and are thinking of claiming on your travel insurance. Don’t worry; the process is very simple, and well documented on (1) each travel insurer’s website, and (2) right here at comparethemarket.com.au.

Step 1. Report the incident

Let’s say that your suitcase was stolen at the train station, and we’ll assume your travel insurance policy covers the theft of your belongings (i.e. and there aren’t any exclusions that would prevent you from being able to claim). What should you do next?

To start off, you should file a police report and get in touch with your transport provider. Such reports will help your insurer validate your claim – indeed, you may not be able to make a claim unless you report the incident to the relevant authorities within 24 hours.

When it comes to a couple of other common situations…

  • A valuation from your rental car insurer would be ideal for claims involving motor accidents.
  • Discharge papers from your healthcare physician will demonstrate you were ill / injured.
  • Receipts, bank statements, even instruction manuals will help validate your ownership of stolen or lost belongings.

Step 2. Contact your insurer

You may wonder, “Should I get in touch with the insurer now, or wait until I’m back in Australia?” For most claims, it’s best to alert your insurer early on. Not only can they let you know what they’ll need from you to complete your claim, but they will also be able to direct you to medical facilities, embassies, consulates, etc that will (hopefully) get you back on your feet faster.

When you get in touch, explain what happened, and ask what they’ll require from you. They deal with thousands of these kinds of enquiries every year, so they should be able to point you in the right direction. If you do not have supporting documentation for your claim yet, you can always start the claim process now and forward documents to the insurer later on.

Many travel insurers can be contacted outside of business hours, 24 hours a day. Their hours of operation are worth checking out prior to leaving (make sure you write them down), especially if you’re heading across time zones.

Step 3. File your claim

This part of the process basically comprises of gathering those reports from step one, and then following the instructions your insurer has given you from step two. You should be able to file a claim by post, fax, via email, or online.

Your insurer may periodically contact you to let you know how your claim is progressing, or they might provide you with a way of checking this out yourself online.

Is there anything else I should know?

  • Any payment on your claim is likely to be paid in Australian dollars, and may not come through to your account immediately. Check with your insurer to see if they can give you an estimate of when your claim will be paid.
  • If you receive compensation for an incident elsewhere (e.g. from an airline), your travel insurer may not pay out your claim, unless it’s to make up the difference of what was fairly owed to you.
  • You may have to pay an excess when you claim; an additional amount owed and (eventually) deducted from what you get back in a claim.

Insurance claims usually go smoothly, but if you feel as if your claim has been wrongfully denied or not paid in full, get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to lodge a dispute.

Learn more about travel insurance.