The Financial Services Complaint Limited (FSCL
) is urging travellers to take extra care of their travel cards, PINs and valuables if heading overseas during the holidays.
The reminder follows a spate of recent complaints to FSCL involving fraud on travel cards and travel insurance claims.
FSCL Chief Executive Officer Susan Taylor
said FSCL has also recently received a number of travel insurance cases where travellers have had their valuables stolen after befriending someone in a bar or by the pool.
“In one such case, the insured traveller met a group of strangers in a hotel bar in Las Vegas and after drinking with them for a while, invited them back to his hotel room. At some point he fell asleep – possibly having been drugged – to find he was missing US$1,500 in cash, clothing worth $2,000, sunglasses worth $800 and a $3,000 watch taken from his wrist,” she said.
The insured was very disappointed to find he wasn’t covered by his travel insurance policy, a finding that FSCL backed.
In line with this, Insurance Council of New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Grafton
told Insurance Business that it is important for people to read the terms of any policy they are considering buying before they make a decision.
“Different policies have different levels of cover and different exclusions; it’s important to buy a policy with the right sort of cover for the trip you’re planning,” Grafton said. “It’s also important to buy travel insurance when you’re first booking your trip, not later on. If you don’t buy travel insurance up front, you may not be covered for any extra costs if your situation changes and you need to cancel or change your plans.”
Here is some advice brokers can give to travellers with the holiday season approaching:
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers” when entering PIN at an ATM or payment machine – memorise your PIN.
- If you have to have a written record of your PIN – given travel cards don’t let you choose your own – make sure it’s securely stored somewhere separate from your card and is disguised in some way.
- Be vigilant with money and other valuables while travelling.
- Take reasonable precautions to protect your property from theft – most, if not all, travel insurance policies won’t cover losses caused by someone who has been invited into the insured’s accommodation.
“Enjoy your holiday by all means, but have your wits about you,” Taylor said.
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