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Whether you need to claim now or you just want to be prepared, our guide on making a travel insurance claim will explain the process in three simple steps.

How does making a travel insurance claim work?

Buying a travel insurance policy that covers all the planned activities on your itinerary will help allow you to claim later. But make sure to hold onto your Certificate of Insurance, as it will list your policy number, insurer contact details and other important information.

Before you travel

Before you even embark on your trip, it’s crucial you understand exactly what your policy covers and the limits, sub-limits and exclusions of that policy.

  • Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). Your policy documents will list the specifics of your coverage, which may include cover for hospital and medical treatment, stolen or lost belongings, cancellations or delays and emergency repatriation.
  • Speak to your insurer. If you aren’t clear on an aspect of your policy, you can contact your insurer for further information and get peace of mind that there will be no surprises when you need to claim.
  • Declare pre-existing medical conditions. Not all pre-existing medical conditions can be covered, and some may require you to pay an extra premium to be covered. You must declare any pre-existing conditions to your insurer when applying for travel insurance to allow them to assess your claim and what coverage is available to you. Otherwise, your insurer may reject any claims related to your conditions.

Step 1. Report the incident

If an incident or unforeseen event affects your travel, you might need help figuring out what to do next.

To start, file a report with the relevant authorities (e.g. police for stolen belongings) and get a copy of this report. These will help your insurer validate your claim. Depending on your travel insurance policy, you may only be able to claim if you report the incident to the relevant authorities within 24 hours.

Possible documentation that might support your claim includes:

  • A valuation from your rental car insurer would be ideal for claims involving motor accidents
  • Your transport provider’s report for stolen, lost or damaged items while travelling
  • A police report for any stolen items or other crime-related losses
  • Medical reports from your healthcare physician that demonstrate you were ill or injured
  • Receipts, bank account and credit card statements and even instruction manuals and photographs of items taken prior to your trip will help provide proof of ownership for stolen or lost belongings

Step 2. Contact your insurer

For most travel 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 or consulates that can help get you back on your feet faster. However, in an emergency, contact the relevant authorities first before your insurer.

Explain to your insurer what happened and ask what they’ll require from you. If you don’t have supporting documentation for your claim yet, you can start the claim process now and forward any documents to the insurer later on.

Many travel insurers can be contacted 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world. However, their helpline’s hours of operation are still worth checking out prior to leaving, especially if you’re heading across time zones.

Step 3. File your claim

If you’ve contacted your insurer and obtained any necessary documentation, you should be able to submit an online claim to your travel insurance provider. Alternatively, you can download a claim form and send it to your insurer via fax or post.

Your insurer may periodically contact you to let you know how your claim is progressing, or you might be able to check this out yourself online through your insurer’s customer portal.

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Making a travel insurance claim: Exclusions to watch out for

Your policy’s exclusions will vary depending on your insurer and level of cover, but it’s important you understand them so you aren’t surprised when making a claim. Some standard exclusions include:

  • Purchasing insurance after the incident you want to claim for
  • Loss or theft of your belongings due to your negligence (e.g. forgetting your bag on the train)
  • If you were injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If the incident was the result of you acting illegally or recklessly
  • Travelling to a country with a Do Not Travel warning in place from Smartraveller
  • If compensation has already been awarded to you from a third party (e.g. airline).

Make sure you read your PDS to understand what your policy doesn’t cover you for.

Frequently asked questions

What is excess in travel insurance?

Your excess is the amount of money you pay towards an incident that you’re claiming for. You may be able to choose your excess amount, but keep in mind that lowering your excess will likely increase your premium.

Can you claim lost or stolen items on travel insurance?

Depending on your policy and level of cover, you may be covered for lost, stolen or damaged belongings up to specific limits listed in your PDS. However, you may need to provide proof of ownership for your claim to be accepted.

Consider taking photos of your belongings before departing on your travels if you don’t have the relevant documentation (e.g. receipts or bank statements) that prove ownership. If you’re taking valuables, consider choosing a policy with higher limits and sub-limits for lost or stolen items.

Can you claim travel insurance on income tax?

According to the ATO, travel insurance is not a deductible expense.1 Travel insurance is considered a private expense, even when travelling on business, so you cannot claim any money spent on travel insurance on your taxes.

What can I do to help my travel insurance claim along?

Beyond following the steps above, you can make your claim as smooth as possible by:

  • Checking if you meet the eligibility criteria to be reimbursed before submitting a claim
  • Making sure your initial application for the policy is accurate, including details of any pre-existing conditions
  • Contacting your insurer as early as possible to begin the claim process
  • Keeping and then providing your insurer with all incident reports, receipts, bills, medical certificates and any other documentation that supports or proves the incident you’re claiming for
  • Being honest in your claim and make sure not to leave out any details or provide misleading information
  • Doing all you can to minimise any losses when travelling; for example, don’t leave your luggage unattended in public, don’t take unnecessary risks and take safety precautions, especially at night

What can I do if my travel insurance claim is denied?

Insurance claims usually go smoothly, but if you feel your claim has been wrongfully denied or not paid in full, you can contact your insurer’s complaints department to try settling the dispute. If that doesn’t work, get in touch with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to lodge a complaint.

Is there a time limit to claim on travel insurance?

If you’re wondering when to claim on travel insurance, it’s best to claim as soon as possible. However, some insurers may allow you up to 30 or 60 days from the completion of your trip to claim. Check your PDS to find out when you need to lodge your claim.

How long will my insurer take to process my claim?

It may vary from insurer to insurer, but you can generally expect your travel insurance claim to be processed in 10-14 business days. However, it may take longer if your insurer doesn’t have enough information to complete your claim. In this case, they’ll typically contact you for the missing details.

Any payment on your travel insurance 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.

What does travel insurance cover?

Your coverage will differ depending on your insurer and level of cover, but travel insurance policies usually cover things like:

Your insurer may also offer optional extras like cruise, ski or adventure sports cover, since these things aren’t typically included in travel insurance. These extras will cover those activities that aren’t included in your standard travel insurance policy.

As we mentioned above, it’s essential you thoroughly read your PDS so you understand what you’re covered for and what claims processes you need to follow.

Do I need travel insurance for my trip?

While you hope that everything will go smoothly on your trip, sometimes things go wrong when we least expect it. Not only that, but medical bills can be expensive in some parts of the world, as is replacing phones, cameras and other pricey items if they’re stolen or lost. But with a suitable travel insurance policy, you may be covered for all this and more.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Tips relating to travel insurance claims from our expert, Stephen Zeller

  • Make copies of all your important documents such as your passport, visa and ID cards. Leave an additional copy with someone back in Australia in case you lose them overseas.
  • To maximise the value from your travel insurance, purchase a comprehensive policy as soon as you make a booking and pay any deposits. This helps ensure you may have immediate cancellation cover should you need to cancel your trip, even before you leave Australia.
  • You can only claim for losses covered by your travel insurance policy, so you should consider what cover you may need for medical expenses, cancellation fees, luggage and even rental vehicle excess. Depending on your itinerary, you may want additional cover for adventure or ski activities or cruise holidays.

Compare travel insurance

If you’re heading off on a trip across the globe, travel insurance should be an important part of your preparations.

We can help you get that part done and dusted right now with our travel insurance comparison service. Simply enter in some details about your trip, and we’ll show you a range of policies and quotes to compare. If you see one you like, you can apply for it through us.


1 Australian Taxation Office, Australian Government. Common expense T-W. Last updated May 2022. Accessed February 2023.

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