Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lifestyle: Travel Insurance: When Your Luggage Doesn't Arrive - is it Worth Claiming Travel Insurance?

The Burden of Arriving at Your Destination and Not Finding Your Baggage

Gone are the days when flying was a sophisticated means of transportation where you received excellent customer care, hygiene kits were free in all flights, warm towels were passed on even in economy class before meals, meals were served with metal silverware, alcoholic drinks were free on international flights, and you could check in your luggage for FREE.

OK, nostalgia apart, flying now is a hassle. Crowded airports, fees for almost everything, peanuts for 3-4 hour flights, plus the outrageous fees to check your luggage are some of the "perks" of choosing to fly. And then, arriving at the airport hours later, exhausted and cramped to wait in vain for the luggage that doesn't come out on the baggage claim carousel. Wow, the nightmare. Especially when you're flying from snow to beach and have nothing but a huge jacket to wear to the beach for the next couple of days until your luggage is either found or deemed lost.

Once, after a long 10 hour overnight flight overseas, I found myself waiting at the baggage claim carousel for approximately 2 hours until all the luggage from the flight had been out but mine. Then, another 40 minutes to go to the airline counter to make a claim describing the bag and its contents. It was extremely tiring and disappointing. 12 hours later, the luggage was found and delivered at my hotel, at least. Although I had travel insurance, I didn't think about opening a file with the insurance to collect luggage delay benefits, since the suitcase appeared and was delivered within the same day. If you have purchased insurance with luggage benefits, review your policy before leaving to make sure there is coverage for delayed as well as lost luggage.

In most instances, the airlines will find the luggage and deliver it later. Some travel policies may allow coverage after a delay of at least 12 hours depending on the reason. However, don't think it's easy to collect that money. You need to present all receipts from all the items you purchased while the luggage was not in your hands, and there may be specific items that are not covered. Usually, hygiene items and some light clothing to survive the first couple of hours will be standard.

If the airline deems your luggage completely lost, it will be another ordeal to recover some money from the carrier. You will need to file lots of paperwork and try to remember your lost articles and items and list them with their approximate value. If you have insurance that covers lost luggage, you can only claim it after the airline has paid your claim with them for the lost luggage.

These are the hazards of flying with checked luggage! So if you're going on a 2-4 hour flight and staying at your destination for just a few days, it's better to take your carry on and forget about the checked luggage. You may be thankful for it!