Stolen Passports Can Cost Clients Dearly
by Richard D’Ambrosio
Stolen Passports Can Cost Clients Dearly


It was a setback, but they weren’t completely distraught because they had purchased travel insurance that carried trip interruption coverage that mentioned passport loss. And sure enough, their travel insurance company helped them with immediate needs, like getting them back to Rome and placing calls to the local U.S. embassy to help them file for new documents.

However, when it came to helping them get a refund on their nonrefundable airline tickets, the insurer couldn’t help because the policy only covered stolen passports for trip delays. The family shelled out $3,230 to get home.

Rachael Taft, content manager for travel insurance website Squaremouth.com, told TMR that many agents and consumers don’t understand exactly which events are covered by trip interruption policies.

“While many travelers’ major concerns are covered by travel insurance, policies usually have specific requirements to trigger coverage that some travelers may not be aware of,” Taft said. “For example, travel insurance does not cover any and every missed or delayed flight—there are requirements for how long you must be delayed before Travel Delay or Trip Interruption benefits kick in.”

Trip Interruption typically requires an airline delay of at least 12-48 hours, and usually the delay must be due to weather or mechanical failure, Taft noted, not the inability to board an international flight because your passport was lost or stolen.

“However, there are many policies that do include Trip Interruption coverage for a stolen passport or visa, as long as travelers obtain documentation, such as a police report, to show that it was stolen,” Taft said. Travel agents and their clients should double-check their policy before making a purchase, she advised.

Coverage and policies vary
Travel Insured International, a Crum & Forster Company, said that if a stolen passport causes an interruption of the trip, “we will pay up to a 150% of the total amount of coverage purchased for reimbursement of any non-refundable travel arrangements and for any additional costs to join or rejoin the trip, or to return home.”

If a passport is lost, however, trip interruption coverage is only available if the plan includes “Interrupt For Any Reason” coverage. “In either case of a lost or stolen passport, our plans also provide coverage for travel delay as well as provide 24-7 non-insurance assistance services for additional help,” the company said.

Similarly, CSA Travel Protection said that “in many of our plans, one of the perils listed under Trip Interruption covers loss due to ‘a documented theft of your passports or visas.’”

As Taft said, the insured would need documentation that it was stolen.

“If the passport is stolen and they report it to the authorities, we would cover additional airfare and any arrangements they missed while trying to obtain a replacement passport. If they just lost it and it is not reported, then they would not have coverage under this coverage,” CSA said.

CSA said that once a client makes that report, “baggage and travel delay, plus assistance services and ID Theft, would kick in. Travelers should read their description of coverage to determine exactly what is covered.”

Allianz Global Assistance had a slightly different approach to lost documents.

“A lost or stolen passport would not be a covered reason to cancel or interrupt your trip, but it would be covered under our Travel Delay benefit,” said Daniel Durazo, U.S. communications director. But Travel Delay coverage “will reimburse you for reasonable expenses for meals, accommodations and transportation while you’re delayed. So consumers could use this coverage to help pay for change fees or other expenses they incur if the delay is caused by lost or stolen passports.”

The amount of Allianz coverage varies by product. The Classic Plan provides $200 per person per day, up to a maximum of $800; the Classic Plan with Trip Plus, which has higher coverage limits, provides $200 per person per day up to a maximum of $1,600.

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Tip of the Day
Our clients may research online but they want someone to call in case something goes wrong. It's like a safety net. They are a very faithful client base to their travel agents.
 
Geraldine Coutinho-Meyers, Hyatt Regency Aruba Associate Director of Sales and Events
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