Most if not all travel insurance policies carry a condition that you must provide a police report to support a claim for loss or theft of property.
In fact, some policies specifically exclude claims where you do not obtain a police report.
There is also an expectation that you will obtain a police report within a short period of time after discovering the loss. This is usually 24 hours.
So why is a police report so important?
There are two main reasons why you must obtain a police report.
1. Proof of loss
The onus to prove a valid claim rests with the claimant.
This is where a police report is helpful as it assists the claimant to discharge the onus to prove that 1) they suffered a loss; 2) the value of the loss; and 3) the circumstances in which the loss occurred.
First and foremost, to claim against the policy you must sustain a claimable loss during the policy period. Then you must prove the value of your loss.
Obtaining a police report while you are travelling and within a short period of time after the loss, helps to show the insurance company that the loss occurred while your property was insured by it – that is during the policy period. When reporting the loss to the police you will be asked to outline the circumstances. This helps you to show the insurance company that your loss falls within the scope of the policy. Finally, you will be asked to detail the extent of your loss – that is, itemise the property that has been lost or stolen. This helps you and the insurer measure the value of your loss.
Providing a police report is a condition precedent to the acceptance of liability. This means the policy requires that you to provide a police report before the insurer will accept liability for the claim. The absence of a police report may entitle the insurance company to decline your claim, simply because there is no proof that your loss occurred or how it occurred. Remember, it is the claimant’s responsibility to prove a valid claim.
Sometimes, it is not possible to obtain a police report. For instance, you might be in a remote location where there are no public authorities. In this case, talk to your insurer to see what other proof of loss they might accept. It may be that you can obtain a report from an independent party / entity to prove the loss and stand in place of a formal police report. Examples of an appropriate entity might be a carrier (eg airline, bus company etc), hotel management, Lost and Found Department, tour operator or guide.
Our advice is to always make sure you get independent corroboration of your loss as soon as it happens. It may make the difference between a claim being accepted or declined.
Most if not all travel insurance policies carry a condition that the insured person must take all reasonable steps to recover lost items. That is, to act as if you don’t have insurance in place to cover the loss. If the property was uninsured, most people would make an effort to recover their items. Accordingly, you should attempt to do this despite having a policy to cover you for the loss.
It is rare but sometimes lost property is recovered. It might be that it has been found and handed in to police, Lost and Found, airline, hotel staff or management of an establishment close to the location where the item/s was found. In this case, the property is recoverable by its owner and filing a police report (or similar) might help to see the owner reunited with their property. That is, there is a record of the loss having occurred and the identity of the owner. Sometimes property is quickly recovered and returned to its owner through appropriate channels. In other cases, it can take a long time for lost property to be restored to its rightful owner (if ever). Regardless, if you show the insurance company that you made all reasonable effort to see if you could recover your items, this will attest to the bona fides of the claim and it may even be that the items are recovered at some point in the future, even after your claim has been settled.