How to claim the cost of lost or stolen luggage

By Sally Grandy

6 minutes

12 June 2018


We’ve all heard tales of people who’ve been left to holiday without their luggage.

However, the reality is that there is just a 7 per cent chance of having your luggage stolen or lost and never to be seen again, according to a 2017  international study by Air Transport Communication Specialists SITA. 

But there are ways you can minimise the chances of this happening at the airport or while travelling, and some practical steps you should take to make claiming on your insurance a simple process.

What to do before you take off

HBF travel insurance spokesperson John Martelli says you should check in well ahead of your flight as baggage handlers need time to load your luggage onto the plane.

Another simple tip is to put a luggage tag inside your case should the outer one come off, and choose a suitcase that is slightly different. This may help someone else from picking it up accidentally on the carousel.

Make sure you are waiting for your bags when you land

Most bags that find themselves in the wrong hands have been taken by mistake, but police prosecuted one man in 2009 at Phoenix International Airport in the US when it was discovered that he and his wife had stolen approximately 1,000 pieces of luggage and allegedly sold the contents at garage sales.

If your luggage is taken by mistake, travel insurance may cover the cost of your luggage. You most likely will need to prove that you were not acting irresponsibly, for example forgetting to wait for your luggage at baggage collection, and lodge a report for the missing luggage with an appropriate authority within 24 hours.

Depreciation may be factored into any payout as your insurance policy may not offer new for old so items may be assessed on current valuation.

If you really want to ensure you’re not a victim of lost luggage, Kansai International Airport in Japan was given the title as the World's Best Airport for Baggage Delivery by Skytrax in 2018.

Report missing luggage to your airline straight away

If an airline loses your luggage, they are obliged to cover the cost of ‘essential items’. Depending on the airline, essential items may be classified as toiletries, underwear and clothing, but each airline will define ‘essentials’ differently.  If there is an airline desk in the luggage reclaims hall, it’s a good idea to report to them straight away.

Martelli says you’re likely to be covered if items do disappear within an airport terminal.

“We recently paid out $1,300 to a traveller who lost a bag after going through a security scanner,” Martelli said. 

“It fell out of a larger bag. The airport was notified but couldn’t find it.  The bag contained among other things reading glasses, an iPad, and jewellery.

“HBF paid out $1,300 and the traveller’s policy was just $168 for the whole of his trip to the UK, so it was money well spent.”

Be vigilant if you want to make a successful claim

While you want to relax on your holiday, it’s important not to let your guard down where travel insurance is concerned.

Monitor your valuable items closely, because your claim will have a much greater chance of holding up than if you’ve been negligent or careless.

Plus, you may need to demonstrate that you looked after the item to the best of your ability.

Wherever you are, make sure you report what has gone missing to the police within 24 hours and keep a copy of the report they give you. In most instances, an insurance claim cannot be made without this report.

HBF recently paid out for a missing backpack stolen on a train, as Martelli explains.

“We had a member who was travelling from London to Manchester, his backpack was next to him and he fell asleep en route to his destination,” Martelli said.

“The backpack was stolen and inside were items such as an iPhone, aftershave and jewellery. 

“He informed the police and lodged a claim and HBF paid out $4,200 for the total contents.

“He’d taken the best steps possible to look after it, and anyone could have inadvertently drifted off to sleep.”

Get well covered for the journey

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This article is sponsored by HBF Travel Insurance.
HBF Travel Insurance is issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 (IAL) trading as CGU Insurance.  HBF Health Limited ABN 11 126 884 786 is an authorised representative of IAL. Any advice provided is general only. Always consider the PDS available from to see if the product is right for you.