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Toilet horror: How this teenager recovered thousands of holiday snaps after she dropped her phone in an Italian toilet

What can you claim on your travel insurance relating to your mobile phone?

These days, smartphones are a must for any traveller. According to Cover-More Travel Insurance, it approved more than 11,000 phone-related claims from 2013 to 2016. In 2016 alone, Cover-More received 2,861 phone-related claim cases including cover for items such as damage repair, data recovery or claiming lost or stolen mobile phones.

They are the modern-day Swiss Army Knife for savvy millennials who want to capture their precious memories on their phone’s camera roll while searching for a famous European cocktail bar AND messaging their friends to meet them there for drinks, all at the same time.

But what happens when all your amazing holiday snaps literally go down the toilet as happened to Brisbane’s 18-year-old Shonny Quaid while she was travelling in Italy?

In the case of Shonny, like most 18-year-old travellers, she had her iPhone strapped to her wrist on her first big overseas trip around Europe with her sister.

Two weeks into their adventure the pair had accumulated more than 3,000 photos from their journey – that’s 214 photos A DAY. From eating pasta in Italy to visiting Big Ben in London, they couldn’t wait to share all of their incredible moments with their friends and family back home in Australia.

On the last night of their trip the unthinkable happened while getting ready for a night out in Florence – Shonny dropped her phone in the toilet.

“We were so excited to celebrate how wonderful the trip had been and before I knew it my phone slipped out of my hand and dropped in the toilet, almost as if it was in slow motion!”

Desperate to fix the phone, the sisters scrambled through the streets of Florence looking for a big bag of rice to submerge the phone in; anything that would dry their precious device.

“We didn’t have a lot of time and we weren’t anywhere near a supermarket so after a good half an hour we had to give up searching for rice and finish getting ready to go out. We were determined not to let it ruin our holiday.”

Cover-More customer, Shonny Quaid, seeing London by bus.

They left for Brisbane the following day, their amazing trip marred by the tragedy of losing all their photos.

“When we returned to Brisbane I went straight to the Apple store where they said there was no way they could fix the phone and to retrieve the photos I would have to go to a data recovery specialist who charged $750. I just couldn’t justify that kind of money.

“After talking to some friends about our dilemma they suggested we look into our insurance and see if it was covered. I contacted Cover-More Travel Insurance, submitted a claim and within weeks it was processed. It was the smoothest process ever. All I had to do was provide them with a quote and my reference number and bam!

“I had all my photos recovered and from this experience knew I would never book insurance through anyone else ever again.”

With almost 3,000 mobile phone insurance claims per year registered with Cover-More Travel Insurance, stories like Shonny’s are actually more common that you think.

Cover-More customer Shonny Quaid and friends in Austria.

Glenn Broadhurst from Cover-More said the insurance provider deals with phone related issues in many ways that don’t necessarily involve replacing your phone with a completely new one.

“Our most common phone-related claims involve people damaging or losing their phone in some shape or form and our policies cover these two things very differently.

“For damaged phones, customers are required to have their phone repaired and then they can claim the repairs cost. We don’t recommend that they go out and purchase a brand-new phone as they usually won’t be covered.

“Generally if someone is making a claim for a lost or stolen phone, we would require a receipt for proof of ownership and to indicate when the phone was purchased. We then go through a process depending on the policy and the amount a claimant is covered for,” Mr Broadhurst said.

What can you claim on your travel insurance relating to your mobile phone?
Cover-More’s Glenn Broadhurst has outlined some of the common confusions around standard travel insurance policies involving mobile phone claims and has provided his top tips for avoiding being left disconnected:

Have a back-up plan in case you damage your phone overseas
If you damage your phone overseas there is certain criteria that needs to be fulfilled to have the cost of the repair approved, however customers are not covered for the purchase of an entirely new phone so you can get caught out. Customers that have damaged their phone overseas and buy a new one thinking they will be paid out a replacement amount, or that they will be paid immediately, should think twice before spending big on a new purchase.

Recommendation: Cover-More recommends that travellers have a back-up plan if the unthinkable happens on their trip where they may be without their phone. Things such as scouting out internet cafes, putting money aside for a cheap phone or carrying an additional phone or device with you could be a good solution.

Have your proof of purchase handy
Generally, customers making a phone claim will require a receipt for proof of ownership to indicate when the phone was purchased. Buying a phone second hand can sometimes cause issues if customers don’t have the original receipt from the first owner, or a receipt of purchase when they bought it.

Recommendation: Cover-More recommends that travellers obtain an original receipt of purchase from the first owner of the phone, or a receipt of purchase when they bought it. If that’s not possible, always pay with a credit or bank card so the amount can be traced and identified on your bank statement as an official purchase.

Understand your phone can depreciate
Customers should be aware that when they claim a lost or stolen phone on their policy, the value of their phone is likely to have depreciated since the time of the initial purchase. What once may have cost $800 may only be worth $400 two years later.

Recommendation: Know what your phone is worth before taking it overseas. If it’s more valuable than what it’s technically insured for, think twice about taking it travelling.

1. How mobile phone claims are actually calculated

  • When paying out a claim a number of aspects are taken into account such as:
  • The amount of loss, damage or liability;
  • The excess;
  • The maximum benefit limits and sub-limits;
  • Reasonable depreciation; and
  • The terms and conditions of the policy.

Recommendation: Always read the product disclosure statement of your travel insurance policy to understand what you are covered for and how claims are calculated for specific policies.

Cover-More Travel Insurance approved phone related claims 2013 – 2016









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TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific editorial team has an experience of over 35 years in B2B travel journalism as well as in tourism & hospitality marketing and communications.