What do you do if it takes a long time to process your travel insurance claim? Peter Hoagland had to answer that question after his payment request dragged on for months.
This summer, Hoagland, a consultant from Warrenton, Virginia, went on a cruise to Alaska that included a land tour.
“The trip was fantastic,” he recalled. “But I had a seizure while I was on the ocean. For about 10 minutes, I couldn’t say anything. My wife and I wanted to know if it led somewhere else or if we had to turn around.”
Hoagland went to the ship’s infirmary. After a few tests, the staff decided he was fine and gave him a $1,000 bill. He submitted the invoice to his travel insurance company. A representative assured him it would take only a week or two to process the claim. But after six weeks, he still hadn’t heard anything.
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He’s not on his own. Insurance companies for travel are backed up with claims from a busy summer and a busy fall travel season that was not expected. But you can speed up the claims process by being thorough and persistent with your paperwork. You can also do what Hoagland did if nothing else works. I’ll tell you how he fixed his claim below.
Is it worth it to buy travel insurance?
What you need to know before your next trip
How to avoid making mistakes on a cruise: “People don’t pay attention to when final payments are due.”
More claims mean more slowdowns.
Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.com, a travel insurance marketplace, said that travelers are making more claims than ever before. “This causes claim approvals to take longer across the industry as a whole.”
As I explain in my guide to travel insurance, that doesn’t happen very often in a business with as many rules as insurance. And experts say that these delays could last into the fall and winter.
Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice, said that 2022 was a big year for travel, which is great news for the industry. But this increase in travelers also affects insurance claims, which may take longer to process.
Is there a way to speed up the process of your travel insurance claim? There is, as a matter of fact.
How to speed up your travel insurance claim
If it’s been a month since you filed your claim, you should start to worry about it. Except for the most complicated claims, most major travel insurance companies handle claims in two weeks or less. So, if yours wasn’t hard to make, it could be stuck or lost.
Here’s how to make sure your travel insurance claim doesn’t get held up:
Don’t throw away your bills.
Daniel Durazo, director of external communications at Allianz Partners USA, said that claims get stuck when you don’t give your insurance company enough information.
“Travel insurance providers need all the information they need to process your claim quickly and correctly. This includes receipts for expenses, proof of why your trip was canceled or cut short, and proof of any refunds you’ve already received,” he said.
It’s easier to say that than to do it. When you’re in a pinch, keeping a receipt isn’t usually the first thing on your mind. So when trouble comes, let your inner accountant do its thing. Take a picture of each bill and receipt. You might need them someday.
Check everything three times.
“That’s the most important piece of advice I can give,” said Terry Boynton, president of Yonder Travel Insurance, a site that helps people compare travel insurance. “Make sure you send in everything asked for on the claim forms three times.”
Boynton says that Yonder’s customers have to wait the longest for their claims to be paid when they don’t send in everything the claim forms ask for. If a claims analyst can’t handle a claim because there isn’t enough paperwork, the adjuster will ask for more details. But too often, Boynton said, that email ends up in a claimant’s spam folder. So remember to check your junk mail.
Try to get your way.
That’s the advice of Damian Tysdal, founder of the travel insurance site CoverTrip.com. He says that you should check back with the travel insurance company a week after you file a claim to make sure they have everything they need. “It can help to be proactive,” he said.
When a travel insurance company is overrun with claims, it’s easy for one or two to fall through the cracks. You don’t want your claim to end up like that. Too often, emails asking for more information get lost in the mix, which can cause more delays. The only way to make sure your travel insurance claim is on track is to ask.
If your travel insurance company misses a self-imposed deadline, you’re not being too pushy. So, for example, if a representative says you’ll get a notice in 15 days and the company misses the deadline, it’s okay to call. But calling to “check” once a week might be too much.
How to keep a travel insurance claim from taking too long
There are ways to shorten the time it takes to file a claim. One of them is to get insurance from a company that handles claims in a more automated way. For example, Allianz has a proactive payment system called SmartBenefits that can automatically track your flights and send you $100 per insured person if you are delayed long enough for a payment to be made.
You can also pick an insurance company that is known for paying claims quickly. Jeff Rolander, the company’s director of claims, says that because Faye Insurance handles its claims in-house, the process goes faster.
“We respond to customers’ claims within 24 hours, and if they give us all the information we need at the time of the claim, we try to settle the claim within 48 hours,” he said.
So how did Hoagland speed up his claim? On my site for helping consumers, he was able to find the email address for the chief claims officer at his travel insurance company. “She answered right away,” he said. “Within two days, I got a phone call telling me that the full amount of my claim was approved.”
Make sure you know your policy.
One of the worst things travelers do is not read their travel insurance policy carefully. Then, they file a claim for something that isn’t covered, which can lead to a long wait and a rejection. “Know what your travel insurance plan can and can’t do,” said the CEO of VisitorGuard.com, Chiranth Nataraj.
Set goals that are reasonable.
Professionals say that even if you do everything right, you may still have to wait. “Don’t think that claims will be handled in a week or two,” said Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer, the owner of a small travel agency called Live Well, Travel Often. “Most of the time, it takes between one and two months. Some businesses might take even longer.” Her advice: Be patient. Send a polite email asking about the claim if it takes more than two months.
Make a checklist.
Tysdal of CoverTrip.com said that many travel insurance claim forms are very detailed, so you can’t miss anything. “Make a list of all the things they need,” he suggested. “Most likely, these will be PDF files, so save them with file names that make sense. Send them in as soon as you can.”