Some see comprehensive travel insurance as an opportunity to practise their skills in deception. However, the industry is one step ahead.
The world and its people are constantly on the move. Greater access to transportation options has opened up the idea and the reality of travelling for many people. As our travelling habits grow and evolve, so do the good and bad elements of the experience.
Once it was fairly rare to bother with taking out comprehensive travel insurance for your trip, whereas now it is a standard part of the booking practice. As this has become a more common expense for travellers, the industry has had to become more vigilant against fraudulent claims which, in the end, raise the rates for all of us. Some fraudsters are fairly clever with their false claims – some are not.
A Growing Industry
As comprehensive travel insurance has become more of a necessity rather than a luxury for travellers, the industry has had to respond with greater coverage in anticipation of any variety of incidents. So much can go wrong when people leave the reliable comfort of their own home and venture out into the exciting unknown. The purpose of travel insurance is to allay these fears and not let the ‘what ifs’ stop people from exploring the world. However, foreign surroundings can raise the likelihood of bizarre incidents, and some people chose to take advantage of this probability.
The Weird and Wonderful
Even some legitimate claims made against travellers’ comprehensive travel insurance can sound completely made up! One claim, recently submitted, was for medical expenses incurred after a rather nasty falling-coconut-induced head injury. Another claim came from a disgruntled skier whose holiday was ruined by the complete lack of snow at her destination – amazingly, the insurance paid out!
Other claims have originated from unfortunate encounters with wild animals, miscalculating fitness levels, or impulse decisions which led to plain old poor judgement. The travel insurance industry has had to keep up as claims become more and more farfetched while also keeping an open mind, as very little is completely beyond the realm of possibility.
With the rise in claims (both genuine and fraudulent), travel insurance companies have had to become literal investigators, sometimes travelling to the country where a claim originated from, and/or having to gather witness statements to back up claims. Comprehensive travel insurance tries very hard to honour the ‘comprehensive’ element of the service they offer.
Not So Smart
People who make fraudulent travel insurance claims seem to underestimate the amount of proof that is needed to back up their claim. Previously a travel insurance claim could simply be made, submitted and believed via a conversation or written statement to your insurance agent.
A common claim is for the coverage of lost or stolen items. Travellers these days bring more expensive electronic equipment, such as digital cameras, phones or laptops on holiday with them, as well as other valuable belongings, like jewellery. Fortunately our digital age is on the side of the insurance investigators who will ask for proof or purchase, photographic evidence of ownership, and even possibly witnesses to the incident where the item was lost.
For example, after claiming that a very expensive ring was lost while on holiday, a claimant was asked to produce photographic evidence of ownership of this ring. Once the photo was submitted it did not take too much investigative talent to spot the time/date stamp on the photo, which only served to prove that the claimant did indeed still have the ring in her possession after she had submitted her claim. Nice try!
It is understandable that travellers might not want to spend extra money on insurance that they might never use. However, the peace of mind that comprehensive travel insurance pays for is simply priceless. Those who attempt to ‘work the system’ rarely achieve their goals and only end up raising rates for the rest of us. Fraudulent insurance claims are a still a crime, and crime never pays (literally).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in annual, family, single trip and all other kinds of comprehensive travel insurance. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
By Lisa Jeeves