How Travel Insurance Fights Identity Theft

6 September 2013
How Travel Insurance Fights Identity Theft
How Travel Insurance Fights Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing global concern. It’s a crime that crosses borders very quickly and it impacts just about everyone in every country of the world. Identity theft is a crime that’s also very difficult to prosecute and it’s even harder to resolve once you’ve been targeted.

Travel experts and lawyers have long known that travelers that they’re at a much higher risk of identity theft. Why? Simply because you, your identity, and your accounts are more exposed. You’re carrying identifying documents like passports and visas as well as your credit cards and bank cards. While, tourist destinations are often very popular hangouts for pickpockets and petty thieves, your risk of identity theft is also increased every time you:

  • Hand your card to someone and they walk away.
  • Use an ATM that’s been tampered with
  • Login to your bank on an unsecured wireless network
  • Slide your card in a fuel station that’s being watched
  • Leave personal information lying around in your hotel room

There are many steps a traveler can take to limit the risk of identity theft while traveling – and we’ll list those in a minute – but it’s important to know that your travel insurance provider also fights identity theft.

How Travel Insurance Fights Identity Theft

Your travel insurance provider can’t prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft but many travel insurance plans have specialized coverage that can help mitigate the damage caused by identity thieves. The benefits are unique because they don’t involve a financial reimbursement like other travel insurance coverage. Instead, identity theft coverage purchased with your travel insurance plan gives you access to services that help you resolve the issues that arise from a stolen identity.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your travel insurance company will ask a series of questions to determine whether there has been a breach of your personal security (sometimes it’s quite obvious).
  • Once it’s been determined that your identity is compromised, they’ll help you with contacting local law enforcement and obtaining the appropriate documents to file a report with credit bureaus and financial institutions.
  • With the paperwork completed, your travel insurance company will then help you take preventative measures like freezing accounts and cancelling cards to recover.
  • Depending on the terms of your policy, the company may also follow up with creditors and financial institutions to review your accounts and make sure issues are resolved and the damage has been contained.

If there are documents to be replaced, they’ll help you find the place that can start that process. If your passport has been stolen, many travel insurance plans will refund the cost (up to a limit) of issuing a new one.

How to Know your Identity has been Stolen

As a traveler, you may wonder how you’ll know your identity has been stolen when you’re so far away from home. Some identity thieves are patient. They may wait for a time before using your accounts so you won’t know until you’ve settled back into your routine at home that your identity has been stolen.

Of course, you’ll know immediately when:

  • You get a call from your credit card company asking if you’re buying silk scarves in India when you’re traveling in Australia.
  • You notice a bunch of charges you never authorized appear on your bank account or credit card account.
  • You swipe your card and it’s rejected.
  • You reach for your wallet and it’s gone.
  • You reach for your passport and it’s gone.

Any of the above and more are indicators that your identity has been compromised and after contacting your bank, your next phone call should be to your travel insurance assistance services.

Limit your Identity Theft Risk While Traveling

Travelers can limit their risk of identity theft by following some simple rules every time they travel:

  1. Inform your credit card company of your travel plans, including where you’re going. This way, if an unusual charge appears they’ll know to contact you.
  2. Don’t make a copy of your credit cards but do have a system for safely recording the account numbers in case they’re stolen.
  3. Secure your home and your mail while you’re gone. Thieves love an empty house and stuffed mailbox – they’re easy pickings for identity information.
  4. Weed out your wallet of all unnecessary cards and personal information you won’t need like your social security card (this should never be in your wallet anyway).
  5. Secure your personal computer and use only secure wireless networks to view your personal accounts.
  6. Be cautious about using ATMS that are not associated with a bank or are in a strange place – a skimmer may be installed or a camera could be recording your PIN.
  7. Check your accounts for suspicious activity while you’re traveling. While you’re bank may be watching – it’s a good idea to keep an eye on things yourself too.
  8. Freeze your credit if you’ll be traveling for a long-ish time. This ensures that new accounts can’t be opened using your identity.
  9. Secure your smartphone with a password – especially if you use it for more than just phone calls.

Some travelers carry a fake wallet to limit their losses if pickpocketed. See our tips on avoiding pickpockets when you travel for more details.

Limit your Risk When You Return

As we mentioned before, some thieves are patient and they wait before attempting to access your accounts when you’re less likely to be paying attention.

  1. Monitor your accounts after you return to see if suspicious charges appear.
  2. Change your passwords and PINs when you return in case they’ve been recorded.

Some thieves purposely use your information in situations where they can accomplish them on paper so the digital trail appears slowly. This is why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your accounts for a few weeks after any trip.

See a full review of identity theft coverage for more information – including a list of plans with identity theft benefits.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.