You’re standing in the airport, tanned and tired, about to board your flight home. But before you board, you decide to run to the bathroom, leaving your carry-on bag next to your seat at the gate. You return to find that your bag is gone, along with your laptop, your expensive souvenirs and your digital camera containing 5,000 holiday snaps.
An incident like this is enough to spoil any holiday experience. However, it can get even worse when you go to make an insurance claim, only to be told you’re not covered because your luggage was left unattended.
‘Unattended luggage’ is a common term used by travel insurers, and although it may seem straightforward, it can be the source of confusion and frustration for travellers. Leaving your bag in a crowded airport is an obvious no-no (and an easy way to get into trouble with airport security). However, there can be situations where your level of cover depends on a few small details.
In this article, we dive into what unattended luggage really means, and how you can avoid unexpected costs.
What is the definition of unattended luggage?
If you’re unsure about what your travel insurer classifies as ‘unattended luggage’ (or any other terms of your cover), it’s a good idea to check the Policy Wording and Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). However, you’ll quickly discover that these legal documents aren’t always easy to understand.
The Southern Cross Travel Insurance policy defines ‘unattended’ as:
"not on Your person or under Your control at the time of the loss, theft or damage, or left in a place where it can be taken without Your knowledge (including on the beach or beside the pool while You swim), or where You are unable to prevent it from being unlawfully taken.”
Sound a little complicated? Let’s unpack what unattended luggage means to us. In a sentence, your luggage is unattended when you don’t have immediate control of it. This may be leaving it out of sight, with another person, or in a place where you can’t prevent its theft or damage.
Let’s look at some common examples of how travellers might have their valuables damaged or stolen, and see in which situations they might be covered.
When does your travel insurance cover you?
Here are a few examples of when your travel insurance might cover you for loss, damage or theft of your valuables overseas.
Is my checked luggage covered?
Although it’s not under your immediate control, we cover you for loss, theft or damage to your valuables in checked luggage. However, we don’t cover loss, theft or damage to certain items in your checked luggage.* More on that later.
If your bag doesn’t appear on the luggage carousel, file a claim at the Airport Baggage Services counter. In most cases, additional costs caused by the inconvenience will be covered by the airline. However, we also offer Baggage Delay cover if they are unable to help. It’s important that you first make a claim with your airline before claiming from us.
Am I covered for pickpocketing?
Pickpocketing is one of the most common causes of lost valuables overseas. Whether you’re travelling to Europe, Asia or the Americas, you have to be on your guard against petty thieves who operate in crowded areas like markets and bus terminals. If you fall victim to pickpocketing, your insurance will cover you so long as your valuables were on your person and under your control when the theft occurred.* The best way to avoid pickpockets is to closely monitor your possessions at all times.
Am I covered for break ins?
Whether it’s from your rental car or from your hotel room, your travel insurance covers you for break ins.* However, this cover also depends on a few important details, which we’ll outline below.
When doesn’t your travel insurance cover you?
You’ll soon see why ‘unattended luggage’ can be confusing. Your level of cover in some scenarios can depend on some seemingly minor factors. Here are some examples of when your travel insurance might not you for loss, damage or theft of your valuables overseas.
Wait, I thought you said checked luggage was covered?! Under our TravelCare policy, there are certain items in your checked luggage that aren’t covered:
- Cameras and camera equipment
- Mobile phones
- Personal computers
- Navigation devices
- Bank cards
- Travel documents
- Other electronic equipment
For these items to be covered under your travel insurance, they must be packed in carry-on luggage.
However, if your travel has been affected by the electronic devices ban, we have made an exception to cover these items.
Like with checked luggage, your cover for break ins depends on a few things. For example, if your hotel room was broken into and your valuables were stolen, you may not be covered if there was a hotel safe provided that you didn’t use. You would also not be covered if you left the doors or windows unlocked.
If your rental car was broken into, you would not be covered if you left your valuables in it overnight, or if the car was left unlocked. Lock your possessions in the boot of the car and don’t leave them there overnight.
Examples of unattended luggage
Remember, your travel insurance covers you for the unexpected, not the unattended!
Some common examples of unattended luggage include:
- Leaving your valuables on the beach or beside the pool while you go swimming
- Leaving your valuables out of your sight at train stations and bus terminals
- Leaving your valuables unattended when you’re taking photos of tourist attractions
- Leaving your valuables out of sight when you’re eating at a restaurant
- Leaving your valuables with a stranger
*As you know, with any insurance policy terms and conditions apply. We've tried to be as transparent as possible here, but you should always check the policy wording for the full terms and conditions. And if you have any questions about travel insurance cover, feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com.