Today is Fat Tuesday, which gives us a good opportunity to talk about not just Mardi Gras, but celebrations in general. It’s wonderful to experience a major carnival, street fair, or festival somewhere in the world; however, your carnival experience can also, sadly, bring with it a heightened possibility of misfortune. Where there are large crowds of people, there are bound to be accidents and petty crimes.
Of course you’ll be careful. Smart travelers will take every necessary precaution to protect themselves from the expected mishaps during Mardi Gras or any other festival. But if your street smarts alone aren’t enough, you may find yourself having to file a travel insurance claim. Here are a few tips and things you should know about the claims process before you need to navigate it.
Document your belongings. It’s much easier to show your insurance company the value of any lost or stolen belongings if you have a record of what you’ve packed. One smart and simple way to do this is to photograph the contents of your suitcase before you depart (or, if you’re a bit late in reading this, as soon as you arrive at your destination). Anything that’s of particular value should also be photographed separately, and if you have a receipt for it, take a photo of that, too — just in case you lose the original document.
Don’t wait to ask for records. Whether it’s a police report to help you document a theft, or a medical record that shows treatment of an injury, make sure to ask for these documents up front. Too often, travelers think they’ll contact the police department or the hospital after they’ve returned home, and end up mired in endless red tape, phone calls, and emails, sometimes to no avail. Don’t leave the premises until you have your requested documents firmly in hand or have made what you feel is a suitable arrangement to receive them.
Don’t invalidate your claim. Did you know that your travel insurance becomes void if your claim arises as the result of something that happens while you’re drinking, using recreational drugs, or engaged in a crime yourself? This falls under the category of using your street smarts, but it bears repeating: Don’t overimbibe, and don’t get caught up in something you’ll later regret. While having your travel insurance claim rejected may be the least of your worries under the circumstances, it could certainly add insult to injury.
Remember that if you need to file a claim, you should contact your travel insurance provider directly using the information provided on our Claims and Assistance page. Above all, travel safely, and enjoy the experience. Laissez les bon temps rouler!