The Definitive List Of Why Travel Insurance Claims are Denied

Contrary to popular belief most travel insurance providers are not in the business of denying claims without a reason, this is clearly not a good long term business strategy. They do however keep very strict procedures on travel insurance claims. Firstly to minimise travel insurance fraud, and secondly to ensure all claims are handled consistently, leaving as little as possible to interpretation.  So do you ever wonder why your travel insurance claim might have been denied? Here are 14 popular, strange and humorous reasons why travel insurance claims have been rejected.

1. Missing Original Receipts

For example, if you have to purchase prescription medicine whilst away, always ensure that you keep your receipts, or you may find it impossible to make a claim on your insurance. It is usually a requirement to have the original receipt so as to prevent multiple claims for the same item. This is not because the insurer thinks YOU are dishonest, it is because there have been numerous dishonest claims in the past.

2. Alcohol Intoxication

If you have an accident, lose valuables, or damage a personal item whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurance is may well be considered invalid. Always check the small print to confirm what is and is not covered whilst drinking alcohol, and if not covered, ensure that you leave all expensive items in a safe and secure place.

3. Pre-existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you must state this if asked. Some insurers will cover these conditions for additional cost, others may not. If you do not disclose your condition when signing up for you travel insurance, and then attempt to make a claim, the claim will be denied if your medical records are consulted.  Some insurers may not ask and automatically do not cover medical conditions deemed to be pre-existing. Whilst others make it clear that only emergency treatment is covered for conditions that occur specific to your travel, like being in a car accident. 

It is also not an uncommon that an insurer has voided a whole policy on the basis that the initial application was incorrectly completed or contained a "misrepresentation". In this instance even a claim was for a lost bag may be rejected because you had not disclosed information when asked.  Your policy could be voided in total, meaning you may have no travel insurance at all.

4. Not Consulting A Doctor

If you are cancelling or altering a holiday due to a medical condition of your own or a relative, you must see your doctor and have proof that they have advised you formally to cancel or change your travel plans.

5. Ignoring The Small Print.

Always read the small print in its entirety to ensure that you know exactly what you are covered for and what is not included. Most cases of claims being denied result from people ignoring the small print and not realising the terms of the policy that they have signed.  For instance you may think you are covered for all medical expenses but many travel insurance policies will not cover a pre-existing medical condition that is not specified and explicitly approved. One example was a woman that didn't know she was 3 months pregnant when she departed and then needed some medical assistance as a result of complications, the insurer denied the claim on the basis it was not a travel related medical condition and the policy wording was explicit on this particular condition.

6. Not Claiming Expeditiously

Many policies are likely to have a time frame within which you must inform your insurer of any claims. Any claims made outside of this time frame risk being denied. Also be aware of any conditions where you must inform your insurer prior to spending money that you may wish to claim later.  This usually relates to medical expenses but could also be for legal advice if you are involved in an accident with other parties.

7. Unapproved Destinations

There are insurance policies that will cover you no matter where you travel to and there are others that do not. So beware when purchasing restricted policies as a high number of insurers will only cover you for specified destinations or that are specified in the policy document. For example, if you are travelling to Canada and decide to take a day trip over the border to the USA, ensure that your insurance covers you.  Many policies may not cover the US without an additional premium, given the cost of medical treatment. Likewise, if your flights involve stop-overs, check that the stop-over location is covered.

8. Incorrect Or Incomplete Claims Forms

This seems pretty obvious, but one of the most common reasons insurance claims are denied is simply because the claim forms are filled out incorrectly or are missing important information. Always ensure that you check over the form and that you have included all necessary attachments before sending off your claim.  It is also highly recommended that you make copies of all correspondence and documentation prior to sending.  If you are sending original documents it is advisable to send these via registered postal services.

9. Participating In ‘Dangerous Activities’

What we term as ‘dangerous’ can be incredibly ambiguous. If your insurance states that you are not covered if partaking in dangerous activities, read the small print or ask an advisor exactly what they deem ‘dangerous’. Quad biking, jet-skiing and even a ride on a banana boat can be classed as dangerous by some insurers.

10. Trip Cancellations

You may have opted for trip cancellation insurance, but double check exactly what this covers before going ahead and cancelling for any reason. Some insurers will not cover you if you cancel your holiday due to ‘An Act of God’ uually a natural disaster, or if there is a terrorist attack in your chosen destination. Likewise, cancelling due to a medical emergency of a family member or friend may not be covered –insurers may only cover for medical emergencies with immediate family or partners.

11. Purchasing Insurance Too Close To Departure Date

Always purchase your travel insurance as soon as possible or purchase an annual policy, as you may not be covered if you leave it too late. Some insurance packages are only effective if purchased a certain amount of time before travelling. If you purchase your insurance after you have had an accident, you must specify your injury when filling in the forms. Also, don’t wait until a natural disaster has been forecasted to book your insurance. If the news is predicting a large storm and you panic-purchase insurance, it may not be valid.

12. Extended Travel Period

Some policies are only applicable for a couple of weeks or up to a month of travel. If you intend on being away for longer than this, check that you sign up to an insurer that will cover you for the correct amount of time. Also remember that if you only purchase per trip insurance you will most likely need to extend your cover if you extend your trips, to enjoy an extra few days.  This can be costly.

13. Ridiculous Claims

Be realistic for what you are claiming for. Ridiculous yet true travel insurance claims that have been denied include people claiming for the lack of snow during a skiing trip, not seeing a certain animal whilst on safari, for persistent rain whilst on holiday in Scotland, or for a parachutist landing on the tent of a family camping trip.

14. Purchasing Incorrect Flights

Almost unbelievably, there have been cases of people claiming on their insurance because they were denied onto a flight, when they had in fact booked the wrong date or flights from the wrong airport. The most famous story is that of a man who attempted to board a plane in Manchester, UK when he had incorrectly booked his flight from Manchester, New Hampshire. Your travel insurance will not cover this, always double check your flight details prior to booking.

General Wise Traveller Tips To Travel Insurance

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Insurance companies do take claims seriously and they do have strict procedures to process claims, being aware of this will make your claims generally go smoothly.

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If you travel two or more times a year or expect to be away for more than 15 days per year consider an annual multi trip travel cover.

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Be cautious with reading to much into customer reviews around travel insurance. Most negative reviews are due to claims being denied and will more often than not be because of one of the above reasons, not because the insurer wants to deny a legitimate claim.

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If you believe you have a legitimate claim that has been denied, do not hesitate to have it escalated.  Be sure of your facts, be able to substantiate your claim and be persistent.


Disclaimer: The above article is presented for general information purposes only and cannot be considered professional advice.  Individuals are encouraged to seek out professional and qualified assistance relevant to personal situations.