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Keeping your valuables safe on holiday

These days a suitcase full of holiday essentials can easily be worth hundreds of pounds, if not thousands.

So how can you make sure your valuable possessions are not at risk when you set off on your holidays?

John Brady, Head of Commercial at John Lewis Insurance tells you how to keep your valuables safe on holiday.

Q & A with John Brady

Q. What’s your background and what experience do you have in providing advice about insurance and protecting valuable possessions abroad?

A. I've worked in financial services for 20 years, including banking, credit cards and insurance. The last five have been spent at the John Lewis Partnership, where I helped to launch and develop John Lewis Insurance, including our personal insurance cover for cars, homes, pets, weddings, events, and of course, travel.

Quotation MarksGiven gadgets are getting increasingly smaller, travelling light doesn’t necessarily mean your luggage isn’t worth
a lot of money.Quotation Marks

Q. Do people really take that many valuables
on holiday?

A. It’s easy for the value of your luggage to increase without you realising. A report highlighted by the Daily Mail in August 2010 revealed that the average traveller packs up to £3,000 worth of clothes, gadgets and toiletries. Thanks to expensive shoes, electronics, designer sunglasses and the like, your luggage can sometimes cost more than the holiday itself.

Q. What if I lose my luggage?

A. I’d suggest packing a few essentials in your hand luggage to ensure you’re not completely unprepared should your case go astray. Essentials would usually include a change of clothes, a toothbrush and for beach holidays, a swim suit. Fingers crossed your case should turn up after a day or so and you’ll have access to your full wardrobe again.

If your case goes permanently missing it can be handy to have a list of everything you’ve packed. This can help with your travel insurance claim and replacing your lost belongings. Most travel insurance policies should offer a certain amount for any emergency purchases like toiletries, clothing and medication you need to make as a result of lost luggage. John Lewis Travel Insurance offers up to £300, depending on the level of cover you've selected.

It’s important to note that if your luggage isn’t found and you have to make a claim, the £300 paid towards emergency purchases will be deducted off the total amount you claim for.

Q. What if I lose my passport?

A. If you’re unlucky enough to lose, or have your passport stolen while you’re abroad you’ll need to report it to the local police immediately, as well as go to the nearest consular office to arrange a replacement. You’ll need written confirmation when you come to make a claim. Getting a replacement passport can often involve travel to the consulate, plus accommodation while they check your identity with the passport office in the UK. Remember, the replacement passport will be valid for all the same countries as the original passport, but it will probably only be valid for a year - and sometimes even less than that. A fee will also be charged for issuing the replacement passport.

With John Lewis Travel Insurance you’re covered for up to £250 to pay for any extra travel and accommodation you may have to pay for because of a lost or stolen passport.

Q. What if my belongings are stolen while I’m on holiday?

A. If your belongings are stolen while you’re on holiday make sure you contact the local police to report the theft. This way you’ll have a police incident report number, which you’ll need when claiming for your lost items with your travel insurance. If you need to make any emergency purchases you’ll also need to keep receipts for these so you can claim for them.

Find out more about making a John Lewis Travel Insurance claim here.

Q. Will travel insurance cover all my possessions while I’m on holiday?

John Lewis Travel Insurance will cover up to £2,500 for lost or stolen baggage, reimbursing items on a new for old basis. We'll also reimburse you up to £300 to cover any clothing, medication and toiletries you need to buy while waiting for your luggage to arrive, if it is temporarily lost on your outward journey. However, it's important to note that if the loss is permanent, we'll deduct the amount paid from the final payment amount.

Q. Aren’t my possessions automatically covered as part of my home contents insurance?

A. Home contents insurance policies do normally include cover for personal possessions, meaning the things you carry about with you are protected. However, this protection tends to be for a limited amount and doesn’t always cover every country.

John Lewis Home Insurance includes worldwide cover for personal possessions, for up to £25,000 – but this amount is not included as standard. Whatever you do, don’t assume that your personal possessions insurance will cover the value of your luggage. Always check you’re adequately covered before jetting off.

Expert’s tips

Q. Do you have any general tips for keeping possessions safebr while on holiday?

A. Tourists are often targeted by opportunistic criminals, especially given they tend to have expensive items on them. However, there are a few things you can do to make yourself less vulnerable to crime when you travel:

  • Research your destination: Find out about crime in the area you're visiting before you leave. For example, there may be some parts of a city that are known for certain types of illegal activity. When it comes to general advice about a country the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is a good place to start.
  • Use your safe: Most hotel rooms should be fitted with a safe for valuable items, so make sure you use it. If your room is not equipped with a safe then you may want to ask the reception about ways to keep things like passports, tickets, cash, travellers cheques and expensive gadgets safe.
  • Keep a low profile: When you’re out and about in a foreign country try not to be too obvious when using your expensive belongings. Keep cameras, MP3 players and other gadgets safely tucked away when you’re not using them, preferably in a sealable bag.
  • Carry limited cash: Try to limit the money you carry around with you, taking only what you’ll need on any given day. Also, they may not be the most fashionable accessory but using a money belt is usually preferable to losing your holiday spending money.
  • Spread out valuables: Try not to keep your cash, tickets, passport and valuables all in one bag. Instead, spread these important belongings between your main luggage, your hand luggage and your person. Also make a photocopy of your passport and store this separately to the passport itself.
  • Arrange protection: Wherever you’re going and whatever you’re planning to do, travel insurance is a must, so make sure it’s adequate for your holiday. Make a few copies of your insurer’s helpline to store in different places, so you can contact them quickly if you need to. 

For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).

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