What to do if criminals target your belongings overseas(Image: AP Photo - Mike Derer)

Travelling abroad increasingly makes you a target of criminals. Here are six tips on how to stop it happening and what to do if disaster strikes.

1) Always check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website before you leave
The FCO gives regular updates for scores of countries, including types of crime and even cities where it is more prevalent. Find out more here.

2) Take out the right insurance cover
In particular, check for:

  • Maximum individual limits on each item you can claim for
  • Excesses: if the excess is £50 an item, that's £50 for the camera, £50 for the money, £50 for the passport and so on
  • Whether cash is included and how much
  • Whether loss is covered along with theft
  • Whether 24-hour emergency assistance is available

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3) Keep a record of any highly expensive item you take abroad
One of the most common disputes between policyholders and insurers is over the actual existence of the item and what it cost to buy.

So, if you are planning to take an expensive item of jewellery abroad or a costly camera/video recorder, make sure you have a picture of it at home, along with purchase receipts.

4) Keep your valuables safe at all times
This is defined by the Financial Ombudsman Service as a 'reasonable' duty of care. It means, for example, keeping valuables in the hotel safe or, if unavailable, in a locked suitcase hidden out of sight in your room.

The more valuable the item, the more care you must take - there is legal precedent that backs this view.

5) Report all theft and loss swiftly
If any property is lost or stolen, report it immediately to the local police. Get an incident report number or similar document as proof that you have reported the loss.

On package holidays, you must also report the theft/loss to the hotel management and/or the travel rep. If possible, obtain a report of the theft from them.

The same applies for loss or theft at the airport, make sure you report it then. Obtain a receipt from the airline or baggage handler in the event of loss or damage.

6) If you need to claim

  • Go through the small print and work out what you can claim for
  • Provide all supporting documentation to back what you say. This includes receipts, photographs, copies of any police or medical reports you have
  • Always send copies to the insurer in place of the originals. If originals are needed, always send them by recorded delivery
  • Keep all correspondence between yourself and the company, plus records of every phone call, the name of the individual you spoke to and the time you spoke to them
  • If your claims is rejected or scaled down you should first appeal against the decision, producing additional evidence. The Financial Ombudsman Service can help: you have the right to complain to the FOS and your insurer ought to make you aware of that

Related links
What cover do I need?
Do I need travel insurance extras?
How to make a claim on travel insurance?
Introduction to EHICs
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