Do I really need travel insurance? Wallet Stolen!

“Do I really need travel insurance?” I ask myself this question every year. As with any insurance policy you shell out a wedge of money for the privledge of feeling secure and having a safety net to fall back on. When you go from year to year without ever making a claim I can see how some people might not bother with insurance.

Personally I always have travel insurance, given the relatively cheap price and protection provided –  it’s a no brainer. Annually there are over 23 million policies sold, varying from single trips, multi-trips and annual policies. Additional cover for a wide rage of activities can also be catered for, such as Heli Skiing, Snowmobiling, skydiving…..etc

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The big three

The top three claims received by insurers are medical, cancellation and lost baggage. Medical claims make up 58% of all claims made.

In the UK we have the NHS where people are used to receiving free treatment. However travel to a country with no state health service such as the United States of America – lets say you stepped off the plane in the USA and broke your leg, the cost of hospital treatment and an air ambulance back to the UK could cost you thousands!

Recent research showed the average cost for inpatient treatment in the USA was £6,000. Thailand came in at £2,700 and the Canary Islands £2,400. The cheapest was Bulgaria at £500.

My Experience

I’ve always thought I was a savvy traveller and never thought my wallet would be stollen.   A few years ago I was on holiday in Nice, France which for the record turned out to be anything but nice!  On the first day we were riding the city tram.  I was wearing a pair of cargo shorts with very deep pockets on the thigh which were button fastened.   My wallet was in one of the pockets whilst on the tram and gone when I’d departed.    I didn’t actually notice until 10 mins later when I went to pay for a ticket in the local train station.    I was gripped in an icy panic as I realised how violated I’d just been made to feel and what I’d do for the rest of the holiday.    To be fair I made several mistakes on that tram.

  • took wallet out on tram to put ticket back (this effectively flashed my wallet and contents).
  • As it was my first day I’d not yet divided my money and placed in different places.  I effectively had all my holiday money in that wallet!!! School boy error 101!
  • No matter how secure you think a pocket is, it really isn’t unless you have a chain attached to your wallet and belt.

I’d still love to know how they got my wallet out of that deep pocket without me realising –   they were clearly talented in their trade.

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The recovery

Once we’d got over the initial shock, the following steps were taken.

  • Retraced our footsteps to ensure wallet had not been discarded.
  • Phoned bank + credit card companies and cancelled cards
  • Visited the local police station and reported crime.   This is extremely important if you want to make a claim on your insurance.  They will expect a crime report number.
  • Got my dad to wire me some money via the moneygram service.

Luckily I wasn’t travelling alone, I’d have been totally screwed for the first 24 hrs if alone.    Thankfully once back in the UK, my claim was successful and I was reimbursed the majority of the money.

Some tips and advice

  • Don’t have your credit cards and money together.   Likewise don’t have all your money in once place and don’t take all your money out with you – leave in secure place back at hotel such as safe.
  • Write down important phone numbers such as your bank and credit card numbers.   They are typically written on the back of your cards – which isn’t much good when they’ve just been stolen.
  • If carrying a rucksack, either carry on your front, lock the zips or ensure any valuables at are the bottom of the bag rather than easily accessible.
  • Photocopy your travel documents and passport and keep in safe place.
  • With any insurance policy you must read the small print before taking out the policy.   Many people don’t even look at the small print until they need to make a claim.
  • The cheapest insurance policy isn’t necessarily the best, check the excess charges and coverage.

Have you fallen prey to crime whilst on your travels or had to make a claim?  Let me know your experiences.

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