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Lost and stolen belongings


Why does travel insurance matter?

Sometimes your baggage never arrives, or perhaps your hotel room is broken into, or your belongings are lost or stolen in some other way.

If your baggage is lost during transit through no fault of your own, you cannot rely on compensation from the airline to cover the cost of replacing your possessions. By law, airlines only have to pay a specified minimum value per kilo of lost baggage and this is unlikely to cover their full value.


Did you know?
£3,000 – The cost of clothes, gadgets and toiletries taken on holiday by the average British family. (13)



What does travel insurance cover?

Some cheap travel insurance policies provide cover for your baggage, although some people choose not to take this cover if they are already covered ‘away from the home’ under a home contents insurance policy.



Travel insurance policies do cover personal belongings against loss from secure locations, including ‘valuables’. There is normally a limit to the maximum amount payable in total and also other limits for single items and valuables. In the event of a claim, you should report any loss to the police as soon as possible – preferably within 24 hours – and request proof of notification to help support your claim. See our Frequently asked questions section for more information about instances when you cannot report the loss.


Did you know?
£23m – The amount insurers paid out in claims for lost and delayed baggage and stolen money in 2009. (14)




If you leave personal belongings unattended, policies do not cover any loss. A common definition of ‘unattended’ is when the belongings cannot be seen and you are not close enough to them to prevent unauthorised interference or theft of the property. For example, policies typically do not cover belongings if they are stolen when left under a towel by the side of the pool or on the beach while you swim.


Did you know?
85% – Proportion of people unaware that valuables are only covered if kept as hand baggage during transit. (15)



1 Theft from a car

In the event of theft from a vehicle policies do provide cover if:

• the items concerned have been locked out of sight in a ‘Secure Luggage Area’;
• forcible and violent means has been used by an unauthorised person to get into the vehicle; and
• evidence of such entry can be proven.

Some policies might have restrictions on loss of baggage from unattended vehicles such as losses that happened during certain times. This will be specified in the holiday insurance policy wording – for instance, leaving items overnight between 9pm and 9am.


2 Loss of valuable items

Cover for ‘valuable’ items will vary considerably between travel insurance policies, and is subject to certain limits. Examples might include:

• cameras, photographic, and video equipment;
• perfume;
• computer hardware and software;
• games consoles (PSP, Nintendo DS, etc.), accessories and games;
• personal organisers;
• mobile phones;
• televisions;
• portable audio equipment (DVD, CD, iPod, etc) and associated discs, memory sticks and accessories;
• spectacles;
• prescription sunglasses;
• telescopes;
• binoculars;
• jewellery;
• watches;
• furs; and
• precious stones and articles made of or containing gold, silver or other precious metals.

Policies do not cover valuables that go missing from your suitcase between the time they are checked in until you collect them at your destination, or when they have been left unattended. To make sure valuables are covered by your travel policy, do not put them with your checked-in bags – keep them with your hand luggage.


3 Limits

There is a maximum amount – called the 'single article limit’ – that will be covered for each individual article. There is also a limit on the total amount that can be claimed for items listed as valuables.

If you have very expensive jewellery or a laptop, camera, or camcorder, it is important to check that the single article limit is high enough before buying a policy.

The ‘total valuables limit’ applies regardless of the single article limit and you should check that it is sufficient to cover your belongings if you are taking more than one valuable item with you. For instance, if you have a camera worth £300 and a camcorder worth £200, but there is a total limit of £300, in the event that both are stolen the most you would be able to claim back is £300.


(13) Excess Baggage. Sheila’s Wheels, 2010.
http://www.sheilaswheels.com/media/EXCESS_BAGGAGE.html [Accessed: 05/10/10]

(14) ABI claims data.

(15) ABI quarterly survey. October 2010.


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