Getaway Day: 2 Tips For Maximizing Your Luggage Benefit

(Photo credit: Harsh Jadav via Unsplash.)

I was talking to someone in the travel business the other day when the topic of luggage came up, for one politically-charged reason or another.

“Luggage? That’s a junk benefit,” they said, not caring overmuch that I’m in the business of steadfastly believing that luggage is not a junk benefit, no matter how positive a spin you put on that term. (Junk in the sense of being able to strip out all the copper and sell it to a salvage yard for $10? Perhaps.)

I can understand where they’re coming from, though. Your standard travel-insurance luggage benefit is pretty tightly drawn. In order to get your claim paid, you have to fill out a claim form and produce receipts for everything that was lost or damaged, and on top of that, there’s a per-item limit on how much you’ll be paid, and extra restrictions on high-zoot stuff like jewelry and electronics.

There’s no evil intent behind any of this; it’s common sense, really. If you had the Hope Diamond and decided to stow it in your Samsonite from Albuquerque to Timbuktu, and if the inevitable happened and your Samsonite was no more, would you really expect your travel insurer to pony up if you held out our hand and said, “Yeah, the Hope Diamond was in that bag. Could you please pay me $1.2 billion?”

First of all, if you are going to travel with big-dollar items, you shouldn’t rely solely on travel insurance for protection and reimbursement. You need to buy special policies or riders for those items that cover them even when they’re sitting around the house, tempting thieves by their mere presence. Second, you have to accept a travel-insurance luggage benefit for what it is and work within that benefit.

It’s not hard. It’s just a two-step process. Follow it and you’ll find that a travel-insurance luggage benefit is anything but junk.

Nice camera — but do you have the receipt? You’re going to need it, if it gets stolen when you’re traveling.

You really can save receipts for all your big-ticket items.

In fact, you probably do it already. In our filing cabinet at home we have a folder that seriously is marked “Big-Ticket Items.” We buy something expensive, we put the receipt in there. And then when we travel it’s a simple process to pull out any receipts for big items we’re packing, take pictures of those receipts, and then stick them back in the folder. If there’s something we’re taking that’s much more expensive than the luggage benefit – photographic equipment, for instance – we either add a rider to our homeowner’s policy for that item, or buy a $75 digital camera that gets us 90 percent of the way there and use Photoshop or Instagram to finish the job. If we have a luggage claim, we submit the pictures of the receipts with the claim form, and we’re off and running. None of this is hard; it just requires conscious effort and a little forethought.

Buy fixed-benefit luggage coverage.

If you don’t have receipts and want a little more luggage coverage than many travel policies, consider buying AirCare®, our innovative plan that pays a flat $1,000 for lost or damaged luggage on international flights. AirCare still requires you to do a bit of work to get paid; you have to submit a picture of your baggage claim check and a copy of an airline claim form or police report – but face it: You’d be filling out that paperwork anyway. How much harder is it to send copies to your insurance company? The approval process on our end tends to be much shorter than it is with other travel insurers, and when you use BHTP Burst® we can pay approved claims fast, sometimes within a minute, into specified accounts via a debit card.

Hey, if you’re spending $2,500 to fly international business class, what’s an extra $49 to protect your luggage and your flights, and get 24/7/365 worldwide travel assistance besides? A total no-brainer.

It’s interesting that lost and damaged luggage is still in the news, even as technology and services hold out the promise of no more lost bags. That day may yet come; in the meantime, be thankful there’s AirCare.


Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.