Eight things many of us do on holiday that could invalidate our insurance

Holidaymakers rely on travel insurance for complete peace of mind but if you fail to comply with the T&Cs you’re likely in for a nasty shock. Did you know something as simple as having a glass of wine could invalidate a claim? And there are plenty of other common holiday habits that could do the same.

Here I look at the most common – and seemingly innocuous – things many of us have done on holiday that could render our insurance useless. For more information, and how to get cover cheaply, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.

1. Having a tipple or two

Many people aren’t aware, or forget, that if they drink alcohol on holiday, and lose something or have an accident, their insurance policy may not cover them – even if they were only a bit tipsy.

But how many drinks are too many? The guidelines are hardly helpful, with all insurers having their own interpretations – ranging from the vague “drinking too much” and “alcoholic abuse” to “approximately four pints”.

So what does this mean in practice? Well, it’s all about whether or not the amount you’ve drunk has affected your decision-making. As we all have different tolerances, for some this could mean that just one drink could invalidate a claim.

2. Allowing a stranger to take your phone/camera for a photo

We’ve all done it. Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Brandenburg Gate, we willingly hand over our mobile phone or camera to a volunteer who is prepared to take a picture for us. But while you’re hoping to end up with a photo you can brag about on social media, it could also lead to you having your claim refused.

Because if you let someone else take control of your gadget and he or she runs off with it, it’s likely your insurer will not pay out. So pick your volunteer wisely. Or, even better, don’t pick one at all.

3. Leaving valuables behind when going for a dip

There is nothing wrong with jumping in the pool or diving into the sea to cool down, but don’t leave your belongings unattended. It’s an invitation for opportunist thieves to take something, or everything. Insurers don’t like it. So while it might be nice to go for a dip with your travelling companion, taking it in turns to guard your favourite towels might be a safer solution.

4. Storing valuables in your hotel room

OK, what we’re saying is don’t leave your iPad or gold necklace lying around when the room is empty. It is another invitation for valuables to go missing – if something disappears after a cleaner or someone else with access to your room has been there, a potential insurance claim is likely to be rejected. So where possible, use the hotel safe to store your valuables, money and passport.

5. Using the hotel storage room

It’s the last day of your holiday. You’ve checked out but your transfer to the airport is not for ages, and the pool’s still calling your name. So you take up the ‘kind’ option to keep your belongings in a hotel storage room while you enjoy the final bit of your holiday.

And then you go to collect your bags and one is missing. “Tough luck”, might be the response from your insurer. That’s because many insurers class leaving your bags anywhere, even if it’s a storage room, as being left unattended.

6. Delaying your claim

In case you’re unlucky enough to lose something or have it stolen, don’t delay taking action.

For losses and thefts, you’ll need to report it to the police as soon as possible. Many insurance policies specify that you must do this within 24 to 48 hours. If you report it later than this, or don’t get a police report at all, it’s likely to cause problems getting the claim settled.

7. Unknowingly doing a ‘dangerous’ activity

While jet skiing, scuba diving and riding a motorbike are common activities, restrictions do apply so don’t expect to be automatically protected.

Additionally, some insurers deem a spot of hiking or go-karting as ‘dangerous activities’, which may not be covered by your policy.

These are just examples as insurers have different restrictions, so always check with the insurer to make sure.

8. Not following health & safety rules

It is also advisable to check if it is a requirement, or law, to wear a helmet in the country you’re visiting when doing particular activities. If it is and you don’t obey, don’t expect the insurer to deal with any claims, eg, not wearing a helmet when skiing.

Don’t let these warnings put you off from having a good time – as long as you use common sense, and get the right policy, there should be little reason for your insurer to get fussy.

It’s also worth remembering, not all insurers and cover details are the same, so always check – read the T&Cs or give your insurer a quick call to make sure the policy is appropriate for your needs.

For more information on cover for when you go away, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.