If you’re reading this, chances are something horrible has happened while you’re on vacation ― a health scare, a disruption, even an unexpected death.
Maybe you’ve phoned your travel insurance company and the wheels are now in motion for a claim. And you’re wondering: What now?
I’ve written more than a few stories that offer general strategies for filing a claim. But I never thought I’d find myself in a position to write about my own claim until it happened. I have an annual insurance policy through Allianz Travel Insurance, which is a supporter of my family travel blog. (I pay for the policy with my own money; it’s worth the peace of mind).
At the end of a lengthy road trip this summer, I woke up one morning with a painful eye infection. I had to give a speech in only a few days and I looked like an extra in The Walking Dead. I needed to get patched up quickly.
Call first. You first have to determine if your event is covered by travel insurance. A quick call to your insurance company can establish that. Calls are recorded, so you can rely on what a representative tells you. My rep told me the eye infection was covered by my annual policy.
Ask: What’s next? If you have an urgent situation like a trip disruption or a medical situation, you’ll want to find out what to do next. The company can help with that too. In my situation, I needed to see what my primary health care provider would cover. Travel insurance, I was told, would take care of the rest ― acting as “secondary” coverage.
Get the paperwork requirements. Now the bad news: Nothing is automatic. Your travel insurance company will have paperwork requirements for your claim. For a medical claim like mine, that would be an itemized bill, the M.D.s notes and a description of coverage. Getting that information from my health insurance provider, United Healthcare, was like pulling teeth.
Fix the problem ― and file After you’ve visited the doctor or rebooked your flight, it’s time to file your claim. Collect all of your documents and figure out the fastest way to get them to your company. My insurer offered a web form or email option.
Prep your docs I found the fastest way to file my paperwork was by taking pictures of the invoices and sending them by email. You’ll want to pay attention to the file size. Your insurance company’s mail server or website may have a size limit, which could cause problems. My advice? Send the docs at a lower resolution to ensure they all arrive at their destination.
Patience … Claims can take one to two weeks, although smaller claims of less than $100 typically move at a faster clip. You may need to furnish your company with direct-deposit information or give them a debit card number for payment. My claim was fully processed in less than a week.
By the way, you can avoid all of this paperwork by purchasing a policy through a travel agent. I know agents who will handle all of the paperwork for you and one who even has a perfect track record with claims. Remember, if your first claim is rejected, you can always appeal. Odds are, you’re just missing a form or two.
There’s a lot of paperwork when it comes to claims, but you’ll get your check in the end. And if you don’t? Well, you know how to reach me.
After you’ve left a comment here, let’s continue the discussion on my consumer advocacy site or on Twitter, Facebook and Google. I also have a newsletter and you’ll definitely want to order my new, amazingly helpful and subversive book called How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle).