Emergencies abroad

Losing your credit card abroad and other emergencies

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Be prepared if the following emergencies happen while you're abroad: your wallet or passport gets stolen, you fall ill or have an accident, or your travel company or airline goes bust.

Whether you’re going abroad to seek adventure and get off the beaten track, to visit friends and family, or just to sit by the pool and do very little for two weeks, it’s important to plan for every eventuality.

Here are just a few situations you could find yourself in while travelling abroad, plus some tips on what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Your wallet or passport is stolen

You may have left your wallet in the airport you flew out of or in a taxi, or maybe you were the victim of a crime and your entire wallet or purse was stolen. Wherever you travel, theft is a real problem and tourists are often targeted.

What to do:

  • Ask people if they’ve seen anything. If you’re in a café or restaurant check with those that sat near you if they saw anything, and check with staff to see if it’s been handed in or if they have security cameras.

  • If you’re sure it’s been stolen, or even lost, then the next step is to report it to the police. It’s important that you obtain a crime reference number, which you will need later to claim your insurance or to report your passport stolen.

  • You should make sure you get a copy of the report as well as a copy of any statement you make to police officers.

  • If you’ve lost your passport, then you’ll need a Lost or Stolen Notification Form (LS01) which you can obtain from the embassy, consulate or high commission. The consular office will forward the form to the appropriate passport office, who will cancel your passport to stop someone else potentially adopting your identity. The consular office will then issue you with temporary travel documents so you can return to your home country.

  • If you have had your cards or money stolen you might need to obtain money from your home country. There are several ways to do this, and most incur a fee. If you are travelling alone and still have a credit or debit card then this can be used, but otherwise you should ask your country's consul who can help arrange funds to get to you via bank services, money transfer operators or even foreign exchange brokers.

  • Call your bank or card issuer(s) and cancel your debit and credit card(s) so they can’t be used by anyone who has stolen or found your wallet.

  • It’s imperative you contact your travel insurance company immediately and let them know what has happened. They will need the crime reference number from you to process your claim. Make sure you follow their claims procedures exactly to avoid pay outs being delayed or even rejected.

Traveller's tip: To avoid getting caught out with no money, always keep one of your credit or debit cards at the hotel and some of your cash so you can use it in case of emergency.

You fall seriously ill or are involved in an accident

Medical emergencies can be even scarier when you are abroad. Becoming ill is obviously not something you want to think about when you’re on holiday, but it’s something you have to plan for.

What to do:

  • The key to dealing with this kind of emergency is being prepared in the first place. Never travel in Europe without making sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which means you should be entitled to treatment at the same cost as locals in the country you’re in.

  • It’s also very wise to always take out travel insurance. If you are insured and you’re taken ill then you should contact your travel insurance company after contacting the appropriate medical emergency services.

  • Travel insurance companies may expect you to pay for minor bills such as a small consultation fee or charges for drugs and claim them back when you get home. If you are hospitalised then bills should be dealt with directly by your insurer’s assistance company.

  • Report any accident to the organiser’s representative, their head office and hotel management if it took place in the hotel. You’ll need copies of any logs or reports they make.

  • Keep copies of any medical reports and receipts of any medical charges as these may be needed by your travel insurance company to make a claim.

Traveller's tip: Before you travel always familiarise yourself with the phone number to dial for emergency services in whatever country you’re going to.

Your holiday company or airline has gone bust

With the continuing unstable global financial climate in some parts of the world, which has been hitting companies dependent on tourism, it’s not surprising that quite a few have gone bust in the last few years. If you were unlucky enough to purchase a holiday through a package company that later went into administration, then it’s vital you understand your rights.

What to do:

  • What you do depends on whether it’s your travel agent, holiday company or the airline that has gone bust and whether this has happened before your holiday or while you are on holiday.

  • Before booking your holiday make sure it’s protected by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing (ATOL) protection scheme. If you’re abroad when the company goes bust you will be able to stay in the accommodation you’ve booked until the end of your holiday whereby you will be allocated a flight.

  • If you booked both your hotel and flight through an ATOL protected travel agent or tour operator and are abroad when they go bust, alternative travel arrangements will be made to help you get home.

  • If you haven’t travelled yet then a full refund will be offered if your travel agent goes bust.

  • If the airline goes bust then you may be entitled to a replacement holiday but if not then a full refund will be offered instead.

  • There are other travel protection schemes that are in operation such as ABTA, AITO and TTA. If your provider is not ATOL protected then check your receipts and travel documentation to see if you’re covered by any of these schemes.

  • If you booked direct with the airline then you won’t be covered but you should be able to claim your money back if you booked with a credit card or Visa debit card. Your travel insurance may cover you but many policies don’t, so make sure you read the terms and conditions.

  • If you can’t get your money back and aren’t protected by ATOL or any of the other associations or methods mentioned above then your next recourse should be to seek information on the collapsed company’s website. They may have a helpline and could assist you in securing a cheap flight home.

Traveller’s tips: It’s important to keep all receipts and documentation from your travel company in case they do go bust.

Caroline Lloyd / Expatica

Caroline Lloyd is a travel insurance spokesperson at Gocompare.com.


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