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Compare Travel Insurance Media Room Travel Insurance Luggage Cover

Are your lost or stolen belongings covered?

21 January 2020 By Crystal Moran

Luggage and personal effects cover is the most frequently claimed benefit, but it's also the one that causes the most confusion at claims time. We answer some of the most common questions customers ask us about luggage cover and help you find which insurers have the right luggage cover for you.


When you're Covered

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies (not basic, medical-only ones) include coverage for theft, loss or damage of your luggage and personal effects in a range of circumstances. These include:

  • Many belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged, whilst they are accompanying you on your trip
  • ​Theft of cash from your person up to a specified limit
  • Luggage delays by an airline or other transport authority (over a certain number of hours), and you need to buy food, clothes, or other toiletries (again, up to a certain limit) until your luggage arrives
  • Loss or theft of your travel documents or transaction cards, e.g. your passport or credit card
  • Items left in a locked glove compartment or locked boot of a motor vehicle during daylight hours

when you're not covered

There are a number of situations when you're unlikely to be covered:
  • Leaving items in a hotel after you've checked out
  • Leaving items behind, such as in a plane or at the airport
  • Specific expensive items (check your policy documents) such as jewellerymobile phones, cameras, video cameras and laptops that are transported in the cargo hold of any aircraft, ship, train, train, tram or bus, rather than with you in your carry on luggage
  • Items unattended in a motor vehicle, unless they were locked in the boot or in a locked storage compartment during daylight hours
  • If you’re due reimbursement from a transport carrier for the loss of your items. However, if you’re not reimbursed the full amount, travel insurance will generally make up the difference (up to a specified amount)
  • Many insurers no longer cover for water or screen damage to electronic devices
  • Items excluded under your policy, such as drones, or sporting equipment/surfboards in use
  • Items left unattended or unsupervised in a public place
travel cover luggage

How to make a luggage claim

Claiming for luggage and personal items is fairly straightforward. The procedures are generally very similar across insurers but it's a good idea to check your insurer's policy documents to be sure. To validate your claim, they generally require:

  • Proof of payment and ownership - so they know that you owned/paid for the items
  • Proof of loss - so they know that you have experienced a loss and should be compensated
  • Proof of itinerary - so they know you and your items travelled
  • Proof of identity - so they know they're paying the right person

1. Check your policy documents

Knowing exactly what you need to claim and the timeframes you need to obtain documents can mean the difference between a successful and denied claim

2. Report the theft or loss

In the event of a theft, most insurers require you to get a police report in the local jurisdiction within 24 hours - the sooner you can do this, the better. In the event of a loss, report it to your airline, hotel, tour or cruise provider, or some other relevant authority. Get a copy of any reports you have made, as this will help establish proof of loss to your insurer.

3. Check the liability

Confirm whether you are eligible for compensation from your airline or another provider in the event of loss, theft, or damage - depending on where your flight takes off and lands, some airlines are required to offer you some compensation, up to certain limits. Get documentation of whether or not your provider is accepting liability - whichever is the case, already having that information can speed up how your claim is processed.

4. Get a repair quote in the event of damage

If something has been damaged, your insurer will generally require a quote from a reputable repair business. The quote will need to outline the nature of the damage confirming if it can be repaired or needs to be replaced entirely, and how much repair would cost.

It's important to ask your repair person to break down the cost of repairs into their component parts.  For example, if you dropped your phone and shattered the screen, and broke the CPU and body.  Insurers who don't cover smashed screens will generally cover any other damage.

5. Get your documents together

To submit your claim, you'll need documents that show proof of the loss (for example, theft or loss report or repair quote), as well as proof of ownership. So dig out your old receipts, credit card statements, or check your email for an invoice to help prove that you owned the item you say you did. Depending on the insurer, they may also require a copy of your original flight and accommodation itineraries.  In order to prevent fraudulent claims, you will usually be required to provide identification. This could include a drivers licence or passport and a bank statement so they can confirm they are making payment into the correct account. 

6. Submit your claim

Find your insurer's claims page online, and fill out their claims form and attach your documents where prompted. Give them as much information and documentation about what happened as possible so they can make a decision easily. If they don't have enough information, it can delay your claim. For more on claiming, visit our travel insurance claims page.

Unsupervised or unattended items

When travelling, you have to treat your items the same way you would if you were in Australia - this means you shouldn't leave them unsupervised or unattended. Insurers consider an item unsupervised or unattended if you left your items:
  • behind after you've checked out
  • in a public place, such as an airline seat, an airport, a restaurant or a hotel
  • with a stranger that you didn't know prior to travelling
  • with family or friends who weren't watching them
  • at a distance where you can't control them being taken
  • behind you, or near you but you were asleep (be careful sunbathers!)
The most complaints we hear about luggage is leaving glasses behind on planes, or items being stolen from shared dormitories - so be sure to secure your belongings and take them with you when you leave.
travel cover luggage

iPhones and smartphone claims

iPhones and other smartphones tend to be subject to more strict conditions, because they are small items that cost a lot of money, and scammers try to upgrade to a newer model by saying their phone was damaged or stolen. 

Most insurers exclude cover for smartphones that are left in the cargo hold of a plane, so bring it with you in your carry-on luggage. You should also check whether your insurer covers water damage or smashed screens before you buy a policy. Some insurers exclude smartphone coverage altogether or have it as an add-on.

All insurers that we're aware of have item sub-limits for phones of around $1,000. This means that even if your phone costs $1,500, the most you would get back is $1000, minus any excess and depreciation. If you want to insure your item for its full value, consider listing it as a high-value item.

On top of proof of theft from police or another authority, or a damage repair quote, you will also require the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number of your phone, and evidence that it has been blocked by your telecommunications provider. Blocking the IMEI means that no one can use your phone's handset, and helps show that your phone was lost or stolen, rather than you've handed it on or sold it. 

Visit our guide for more on mobile phone travel insurance

Laptops and camera claims

As with smartphones, most insurers will not cover damaged laptops or cameras that are in the cargo hold of a plane, and many no longer cover for water damage - watch out for those venti cappuccinos near your laptop. They also tend to have item sub-limits of between $1,000 and $3,000. This means that even if you have a policy with $10,000 luggage cover, the most you can claim for your laptop or camera is the item sub-limit, minus any excess or depreciation. 

Additionally, it is worth noting that cameras and their lenses tend to be considered to be a one item or a pair of items, and would be included in the one sub-limit. 

If you want to insure your laptop or camera for its full value, you may wish to consider listing it as a high-value item.
water damage laptop travel insurance

Jewellery claims

As above, jewellery is rarely covered if it's in the cargo hold of a plane, so keep it with you - or keep it at home. Most travel insurance brands will only let you claim up to $500-$750 per jewellery item, and they don't allow you to list it as a high-value item. So reconsider bringing that expensive engagement ring along if you can't afford to lose it. Visit our guide for more on jewellery travel insurance

What is Depreciation?

Depreciation is the decrease in the value of an item over time. A suitcase laptop that you bought nine years ago would not be worth the same today, so your insurer will generally calculate a depreciated amount when paying your luggage claim. Depreciation assumes wear and tear, outdated technology, and a general decrease in market value for older items. If you're looking to avoid depreciation, many insurers allow you to list items as a high-value item. For a small increase in premium, you can list a specific item on your certificate of insurance and it will not be subject to depreciation.
depreciation luggage travel insurance

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**Please note, the following table shows the listed insurer's most comprehensive international policy. It was accurate at the time of publishing but policies are subject to change - get a quote or check your policy documents for up-to-date details**

General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal circumstances. 

Luggage and Personal Effects FAQs

Does travel insurance cover luggage?

Comprehensive travel insurance policies include luggage cover up to a specified limit. Each insurer has a different list of items and situations that are covered, so it pays to compare their policies, shop around, and find the policy that's right for you. Some insurers do not cover sporting equipment, while others don't cover it while it's in use. Some don't cover musical instruments, or have any benefits for theft of cash. Luckily, it's all written in their product disclosure statement - so read through it so you know exactly what you'll be covered for before you buy. Reading through customer reviews for travel insurance can also help you understand why claims are accepted or denied, so you can stay ahead of the curve.

What is an excess?

An excess is the amount under which an insurer won't pay your claim. So if you have a $100 excess and a $20 pair of sunglasses go missing, you can still claim for it, but you wouldn't get anything back because it is below excess. However, if your suitcase went missing, with $3000 worth of items, including your $20 sunglasses, then the most you could get back is $2900 ($3,000 less your $100 excess). Most insurers charge an excess per event - so if your camera was stolen one day, and your backpack fell off the cruise ship another day, each claim would incur an excess.

What if I don't have proof of purchase for lost or stolen luggage or personal items?

Holding onto your original receipts can make claims move faster. However, if you don't have them, have a hunt around for your bank or credit card statements from the time to see if they're confirmed on there. If you have them, you can use them to help substantial your claim, or you can visit the retailer and ask them to reprint the receipt. Paid in cash? A screenshot, email or statutory declaration from the person you purchased it from may help. Otherwise, do you have any photos from before the loss or theft? Some insurers may accept this as proof of ownership, although it may not help them know what its value is or how much depreciation to deduct, so you get their underwriter's minimum amount.

Will I be covered if the airline loses my luggage?

Most items are covered if checked into the cargo hold of a plane, however, most insurers do not cover jewellery, phones, laptops and other expensive items stored in the cargo hold. You may also be eligible for luggage delay benefits if the airline misplaces your luggage, and you temporarily need to buy clothes, toiletries, etc. Check your insurer's policy documents for details.

Do I need a police report if my personal items are stolen?

Yes, most insurers require you to get a police report within 24 hours. Check your policy to confirm. Some insurers also require this if an item is lost. Check out our guide for more on claiming on your travel insurance.

How do I find out my IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number if my phone was stolen?

Your IMEI is an identification number specific to your handset (it's not your mobile number). It is printed on the box you received with your phone and is typically also on the receipt from the retailer you purchased from. You can also typically find out your IMEI number from your phone service provider, and request that they block your IMEI number. This means that no one else can insert another SIM into the phone and start using it. Most insurers require proof that your IMEI has been blocked to cover claims related to phones.

What is an item sub-limit?

Within some benefits, like luggage and personal effects benefits, there are sub-limits for individual items. You might have a total benefit of $7,500-$10,000 for luggage, but you may have an individual item limit of $500-$750, or $3000 for computers, or $1000 for phones. These sub-limits will vary between insurers. Check your policy documents for more information.

Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

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