Let’s just get this straight, filing a police report is the opposite of fun. They’re pretty important though and in the case of travel insurance, a necessary part of the claims process. Read on for tips on how to navigate police reports.
Heaven forbid you ever need to file a police report on an overseas trip. The task is certainly not a pleasure, but more importantly, it’s a sign that you’ve experienced crime or been in an accident, which is traumatic enough. They are unfortunately a necessary part of the travel insurance claims process.
WHAT IS A POLICE REPORT?
Police reports provide an official account of a crime, accident, or other serious incident and are typically made by the victim at a police station.
Countries will differ in how they approach police reports, but in general, tourists who’ve had their belongings stolen, or who’ve been involved in an accident, are advised to attend the nearest local police station and describe the events in detail to a police officer.
This should ideally happen with 24 hours of the incident. The police then record the details of the events in a formalised manner and issue the traveller with a copy of the official report.
THE PERFECT POLICE REPORT
The high achievers among us will know, like anything, the perfect police report is all about homework. Handing over us much detailed information to your attending police office is what makes a great police report. Understandably, if you’re filing a police report, you’re quite possibly rattled, if not downright traumatised, so try to follow these tips to get the most out of the process:
- Get the basic facts
While at the scene of the incident, start gathering facts and figures as quickly as possibly. Write down the time, date and location of the incident. Record names of third parties and witnesses, addresses, hotel names, airlines, flight numbers, car registration numbers, passport numbers – anything you can get your hands on.
- What was lost or stolen?
Jot down a detailed list of all items that were lost, stolen or damaged, while the event is fresh in your memory. Consider how you might be able to prove you owned these items, if asked at the police station. (Side note, you will need to show proof of ownership when making your claim back home.)
- Get supporting evidence
This is a good tip when language barriers might be a challenge. Go the extra mile and document as much detail as possible to help describe the event. Enrich location details by also recording the major cross streets and nearby landmarks. If you can, take pictures to support your account. You may also want to draw a diagram to show what the scene of the incident looked like. If you’re really stuck for language, ask your hotel or our operator to send someone with you to translate, if possible.
- Order your thoughts
Before you even think about filing a police report, think through exactly what happened and write it down as a sequence of events. Imagine that attending a police station might be stressful or that you might be rushed for answers. Getting your ducks in a row before you file the police report will ensure your information is correctly expressed.
- Extra help
If you’re not getting the support you need from the police overseas then it’s best to contact the Australian Embassy, high commission or consulate in the country you’re travelling in. They should be able to advise you on the next steps to take.
Because police reports are official documents, they provide the necessary detail that travel insurance companies need in order to work through a claim.
While police reports can speed up the claims process, in most situations, they’re actually a mandatory requirement for claiming on a travel insurance policy.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A POLICE REPORT TO CLAIM?
- Stolen bags, personal belongings, or cash claims
If the theft happens while you’re in transit – say flying or travelling by train, Travel with Jane will accept a formal report made to an airline or relevant transport service. If the theft happens elsewhere, a police report is needed.
- Stolen credit cards, travellers cheques or passport claims
If your credit card or travellers cheques were stolen, you also need to report the theft to your bank or credit card issuer within 24 hours, in addition to filing a police report.
- Rental car excess claims
If your rental car was stolen or damaged maliciously, a police report may be necessary for both your rental car company and your travel insurer.
- Personal liability claims
A police report is likely to be required to make a personal liability claim.
KEEP YOUR PAPERWORK HANDY
Remember to hang on to a copy of your police report. If you can, take a picture of it and email or share it with a friend, just to make double sure you have a record of it. Along with the police report, it’s handy to take note of extra info like:
- The case number the police gave you
- The statement you gave the police, if submitted in writing
- Details of the police station and who the attending officer was
REMEMBER TO REPORT WITH 24 HOURS
A trip to the police station is the last thing you’d want on your travel itinerary but if you’ve experienced a mishap overseas, reporting the event to the police is the best thing you can do. Hopefully these tips will make an unpleasant experience that little bit better and help you get the most out of the police report process.
Safety first, even on holiday. Go smarter with Travel with Jane travel insurance.