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There’s always a risk of identity theft when you’re traveling. Your credit cards, passport or other ID could get lost or stolen. Your bank accounts can be drained, and new lines of credit can be opened using your personal identification. Your credit cards can also be fraudulently used for purchases or cash advances.
One possible benefit of travel insurance is that it can provide assistance if you are robbed or if your personal belongings are lost or stolen.
Identity Theft Benefits in Travel Insurance
Among travel plans that include ID theft coverage, the most common benefit helps travelers who are missing their IDs, passports, credit cards or other critical financial documents during their trips.
“Many travel insurance providers offer a 24-hour hotline that can help travelers with the process of assisting them to recover lost documents and potential fraud while traveling,” says Bailey Foster, a spokesperson for Trawick International. She notes that the hotlines provide assistance but extra costs will still fall to the traveler, such as the actual loss of money.
In addition to 24/7 travel assistance hotlines, travel insurance ID theft coverage can provide:
- Assistance filing and obtaining credit records and police reports
- Communicating with creditors about issues
- Creating an inventory of lost or stolen money or items, and submitting paperwork
- Assistance notifying and working with the appropriate agency if other forms of ID were stolen, such as an ATM card, driver’s license or passport
- Assistance sending emergency funds to the traveler, if necessary
Scott Adamski, a spokesperson for AIG Travel, says some AIG Travel policies also include an “inconvenience” payment if a policyholder’s credit card or debit card is unexpectedly cancelled during their trip. There could also be a benefit paid for lost or stolen passports/visas while traveling.
Identity theft coverage is not a common travel insurance benefit, observes Steven Benna, a spokesperson for Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider. He reports that only three of the 19 providers currently available via Squaremouth’s website offer ID theft coverage: AXA Assistance USA, Generali Global Assistance and Tin Leg.
Identity theft insurance is also often available as an add-on to home insurance policies.
Common Identity Theft Scenarios
“It is imperative that travelers be aware of situations where their personal data may be in jeopardy,” says Adamski of AIG Travel.
He offers these tips for avoiding identity theft while traveling.
- Download your banking or credit card institution’s mobile app so you can lock your credit card if you notice any suspicious activity.
- Monitor accounts regularly for fraudulent activity and report any suspicious purchases as soon as possible.
- If an account is compromised, contact the banking or credit institution as soon as possible for more information and to limit further illicit spending.
- Make sure your anti-virus and any other malware protections on your devices are up to date.
- Set up “Find My Phone” services on your mobile devices in the event you need to track (or erase) a lost or stolen device during your trip.
- Keep your personal information safe by using an RFID-blocking wallet or purse.
- Keep your phones, laptops and other mobile devices secure at all times. Keep phones in the front pocket of your pants and laptops in a hotel safe when not in use to minimize theft. Stowing items in your luggage, especially unattended luggage, will leave your personal property vulnerable to theft.
- Try to avoid using public and unsecured Wi-Fi networks, where your information is vulnerable to hacking. If you’re relying on free Wi-Fi to get around an unfamiliar place, do a little pre-outing prep: Download maps while you’re on a secure Wi-Fi network—for example at your hotel—to use while you’re out and about during the day.
- If using a public Wi-Fi network or computer becomes necessary during your trip, avoid logging into any personal or financial accounts.
- If your mobile device is stolen, report it immediately to the local authorities, embassy or consulate and make sure to use software to remotely lock down/wipe your device.
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