Travel insurance cover behind the timesStolen valuables could leave you out of pocket

20 May 2013

A Which? investigation has revealed that travel insurance policies have failed to move with the times, providing inadequate cover to foot the full costs of lost or stolen valuables abroad and potentially leaving holidaymakers hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Outdated travel insurance policies 

Our research shows that many travel insurance companies have not updated their policies for years leaving inadequate cover to replace every day expensive gadgets and valuables like mobile smartphones, tablet computers, watches, jewellery and cameras.

More than half (52%) of Which? members say they take their smartphone on holiday with them but we found you could be up to £375 out of pocket if your iPhone5 was stolen. We also discovered that if your iPhone, iPad and valuable watch were stolen from your hotel room you could end up with a bill of around £1,160 to replace the items.

 Travel insurance info-graphic 

Low cover levels for single items

We looked at the standard policies from 20 of the largest travel insurance companies and compared the limits insurers set to cover the cost of replacing one item (single item limit), as well as the overall valuables limit for the stuff you take abroad. We found that nearly all had set unrealistically low limits on what people could claim back, especially once the excess had been deducted.

The investigation revealed:

  • All the companies we looked at had a single item limit for valuables of only £300 or less on their standard or mid-range policies, with four companies (Axa, Columbus Direct, Insure & Go and Virgin Money) having a limit of only £200;
  • Three quarters (15 out of the 20) set the overall valuables limit at only £400 or less, with two companies (Insure & Go and Virgin Money) with overall limits of just £200. Which? Members estimated the average value of their laptops at £671, iPads at £428 and smartphones at £372;
  • Nearly all of the companies (19 out of 20) had an excess of at least £50, the highest was £100 from Barclays.

Travel insurers told Which? that consumers could find greater cover for their valuables when travelling abroad via their home insurance instead.

Our findings come as the Financial Conduct Authority announces a review of the travel insurance market.

Insurers need to raise limits

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'Travel insurance has not kept pace with the changing times. Insurers should raise the outdated limits for everyday items like smartphones and laptops or, at the very least, always clearly offer the option of cover at a higher premium.  It’s not good enough to expect people to use their home insurance policy to pick up the tab.

'To avoid a nasty surprise, travellers should shop around and read the small print or they could find themselves seriously out of pocket.'

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