The website’s research found that at least 66 per cent of Australian travellers have cover for their baggage and other belongings firmly in front of mind when choosing what travel insurance to purchase. But many seemingly do not understand that under certain policies, their baggage will not be covered if it is left unattended; something that could leave them out of pocket in the event that they try to make a claim.
“By definition,” said Natalie Bell, Director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, “‘unattended items’ refers to personal belongings not under your observation. In terms of travel insurance small print, it could also refer to items left behind in a taxi, your hire car, a plane seat pocket or restroom. Insurers need to know that you’re taking reasonable steps to protect your belongings, which is difficult to establish when you’ve left them unattended in a public place.”
Unfortunately, Bell went on to say, as policyholders may not have read their policy documentation in order to find this out, they may become angry when their claim is denied and try to dispute it, dragging the process out even longer. However, Bell added, ‘while it may seem unfair, insurers are simply mitigating risk’: “When your belongings are improperly attended to, or at a high risk of theft, cover will often be denied. We’re in the customer’s corner and aim to inform and educate travellers. Most travellers are not aware of this exclusion.”
These last points are the key to the debate really – contrary to popular prejudice, travel insurers are not desperate to deny every claim that crosses their desks. However, they do have to keep an eye on their own risk exposure and add exclusions accordingly. The problem, as is often the case with travel insurance, is that travellers are rarely compelled to analyse the ins and outs of a product that they may not have wished to purchase in the first place; as a result, awareness gaps will linger, and there may be conflict when it comes to claims. This can then lead to bad blood and yet more sensationalised stories of evil travel insurers refusing to compensate innocent customers.
We can only hope that awareness-raising initiatives like this one from Comparetravelinsurance.com.au break through and that the general public wises up.