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Why travel insurance may not cover your lost phone or misplaced wallet

Author
Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 1:49PM
Travel insurance doesn't necessarily cover items you lose or forget while abroad. Photo / 123rf
Travel insurance doesn't necessarily cover items you lose or forget while abroad. Photo / 123rf

Why travel insurance may not cover your lost phone or misplaced wallet

Author
Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 1:49PM

When an Auckland woman’s prescription glasses were stolen from a hotel bar during an August trip to Australia, she was concerned but not overly so. Yes, they would cost $800 to replace but Susan* had travel insurance through her ASB Platinum Visa card.

“I was with friends and we stopped just before we checked into a hotel to watch the All Blacks and Australia test match,” she said. The group grabbed a table, ordered some food and enjoyed the game.

After the match finished, they left the hotel but minutes later, Susan realised she had left her glasses on the table.

“I walked straight back and they weren’t there so I went to the bar manager and asked ‘Have my glasses been handed in?’.”

She left her details with the hotel manager that night, August 2, but they were never turned in. So, when she returned home, she filed an insurance claim for the loss.

On August 22, Susan was surprised to learn her claim was denied by AIG (the insurance provider for ASB’s Visa Platinum Rewards policy). Why? Because she had forgotten them, a circumstance not covered under the policy.

“As per policy non-coverable conditions stated, we will not pay any claims arising directly or indirectly from Personal effects, money or documents merely mislaid or forgotten, including left in hotel or other accommodation rooms,” read an email from AIG to Susan.

Susan argued that because of how long the glasses were left unattended, the real reason they were missing was because they had been stolen.

 “They were left behind for a minute but they were stolen,” she said.

Susan provided additional context hoping it would help her case but AIG maintained she was not covered. According to the policy fine print, she was not; an unfortunate circumstance for Susan but one she hoped would serve as a warning for others.

After Herald approached ASB for comment, Susan said the company had been in touch and approved her claim. Due to the ongoing status of the claim, ASB said it was unable to provide comment on the specific case.

Is credit card travel insurance sufficient?

Getting travel insurance free through your credit card provider is a helpful way to cut travel costs and is offered by many major banks in New Zealand. However, just as you would with a purchased policy, it’s important to read the fine print and understand what is covered in case you wish to purchase additional cover.

Losing or forgetting items can be an expensive mistake but not something necessarily covered by insurance, as Susan learned.

ASB Visa Platinum Rewards’ travel policy states it will cover lost items, money or documents in several, arguably common, circumstances.

Travellers will not be covered if their property is left unattended in a public place, left in a vehicle overnight or left in an unlocked premises or unlocked vehicle. Forget your phone in a bathroom, wallet in a taxi or iPad by the hotel pool and return to find it gone? You’re out of luck.

Anything nicked from a car overnight also won’t be covered.

ASB isn’t the only bank to have such an exclusions. BNZ’s Platinum Travel Insurance Policy (also provided by AIG), claims it will cover the “accidental loss of, theft or damage to your accompanied luggage and personal effects during your journey” but only if people don’t intentionally leave the belongings unattended in a public place.

“You must take all reasonable precautions to safeguard your property. Leaving personal belongings unattended in public places is not considered by us to be taking reasonable precautions,” the policy states.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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