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Delayed or lost bags, now what?

A question often asked is, can I claim compensation for delayed or missing bags when I travel? And none of us can safely say these days that it won’t happen to me. Rules regarding airline liability for mishandled luggage are laid out in the Montreal Convention, which sets the maximum payout at just over £1,000 to cover emergency items or to replace possessions which are damaged or irretrievably lost. But, in reality, passengers can find it hard to get a fraction of this sum. Airlines will ask for original receipts for items that are lost or damaged and, even if you are able to produce these, the airlines are unlikely to pay up in full, on the grounds of depreciation.

Losing a bag can be a distressing experience, made worse by the generally poor customer service at some airport’s lost luggage counters and, if it happens on the outward journey, what do you do? Do you make do with the clothing you have in the hope that the luggage will arrive or buy replacements? Tough decision to make and is all very stressful at a time when you should be enjoying your holiday?

There is no magic wand to wave here but you can help yourself by being adequately protected by having travel insurance cover in place before you go. What travel insurance should provide in these circumstances is an allowance, usually based on each 24 hours the luggage is delayed, for you to buy essential replacement items, such as clothing and toiletries, for you to survive until your bags arrive. There will be an upper limit to this daily allowance and your travel insurance company will be looking for receipts for these items to accompany any claim you make. This still requires you to pay first and claim back later but at least it means you won’t be too much out of pocket.

Do remember to obtain what the airlines call a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ from the Lost Luggage Section at the airport at the time your bags go missing. You will need to send this to your travel insurance company to substantiate your claim and they will also be looking for proof of when the bags were returned to you, so a signed and dated receipt will also be expected. If you don’t have these, then it is very possible that the insurers will not pay your claim.

If your bags become ‘irretrievably’ lost, then the insurance company will need a letter from the airline confirming this and you will then be able to claim for all the lost items under the Lost Baggage Section of your policy. But don’t let the thought of losing your luggage overly worry you. Just get the required paperwork, know what you can claim for and get on with your holiday.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

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