REALISING YOUR BAG HAS BEEN LOST OR STOLEN WHILE ABROAD IS ONE OF THE MOST DEVASTATING DISCOVERIES YOU CAN MAKE AS A TRAVELLER. You always think it won’t happen to you…until it does.
And suddenly you are the one borrowing the phone from the hotel reception yelling down the line to your mum to cancel your mobile as it is on international roaming and you are freaked that the insane thief will leave you with a $3000 phone bill from checking one email despite the fact your phone is pin locked. But to you the security pin isn’t good enough, this thief stole your bag from right under your arm so who knows what they are capable of! Fuck, they could be hacking your phone right now, looking at your photos and Fraping you!!!!! No doubt they are calling their hundreds of international friends. Let’s not forget the US$300 cash and Visa Debit card – does pay pass work internationally? Faaaarrrrrrkkkkkk!
Yep, the feeling of loss may go a little something like that. But once you have calmed down and you can think clearly there are a few necessary steps you need to take if you want to claim on your travel insurance, and some of them you need to have prepared before your trip.
Before your trip
1. Purchase ComprehensiveTravel Insurance
Seems obvious enough right? Well not necessarily. Many travellers who are on a tight budget opt for the basic level of cover due to the price and inclusion of medical expenses. While they may be choosing to not cover their belongings – no doubt in the “it won’t happen to me” mind frame – when it comes down to it, most people will want to be compensated for lost or stolen items once they’re gone. Paying an extra 40 percent at the time (which can only mean $30) is nothing in comparison to losing $1000 worth of belongings.
2. Print Your Certificate of Insurance
Another obvious one, but one a lot of people forget due to other preparations prior take-off. Listed on this document is your policy number and emergency claim phone numbers. If you know you will have easy access to your email while travelling you may not need to print, but having a hard copy allows for travel companies to confirm your insurance policy with authorities if you aren’t in a position to do so, for instance you’re in a hospital bed.
3. Take a photocopy of your bank cards and passport
Every smart traveller knows to take a copy of their passport with them, though not too many people consider photocopying their bank cards. If your card gets stolen the police will ask for your bank card’s details. If they have these then they can track if the card is used and potentially locate the thief and your belongings.
4. Record your mobile phone’s serial number and exact make
A small detail that no one in their right mind would consider making note of, but if your phone goes missing you need these details for the police report. Yep, that damn vital police report. You can find your serial number on the box your phone came in or listed on your contract.
During the incident
While you will be in a panicked state try and calm yourself to register where exactly you are. If you are at the corner of a street, what is the street name? What is the exact time? Are there lots of people around? What were you doing at the time your bag was stolen or lost? Knowing these details straight away will save you time and energy going back afterwards.
After the incident
1. Find the nearest police station and report the loss/theft
The quicker you report the easier the whole process becomes and the possibility of locating your belongings. If you are in a main tourist city, the police will be understanding of the situation as you most definitely won’t be the first or unfortunately the last.
2. Fill in the police report
Because you are a boys scout and are always prepared you will have all the necessary details to be able to complete it then and there. Impress the officers by knowing the exact details of where you were and at what time everything happened.
3. Now you wait
Like all paperwork your police report needs to be processed, which depending on the city can take up to 7 working days. The good news is all you need is a reference number to write on the copy of the report you now have in your possession. Before you leave the station make sure you have the exact number/person you need to call for this vital number. This reference number is needed for your insurance company to cross reference your claim and to make sure it’s legitimate. Now don’t let that piece of paper out of your sight!
4. Call or email all necessary providers
This includes your banks and your mobile provider if your phone is gone as well. Most mobile phone companies will be able to place a hold on your contract (your contract is still in place but your number is technically not able to be used) until you return home.
5. Make the claim
Generally making the official claim with your insurance provider can wait until you get home. So forget about what has happened and enjoy the fact you are on holidays!
Check back in next week for what I learnt about having my bag stolen.