Over a few years backpacking, I’ve had all sort of things happen to me. Unfortunately, this includes being robbed while traveling by a ‘ladron’ or two. Multiple times. As a result, I’ve had the enthralling experience of filing many insurance claims for my travel gear. Here’s how to deal with getting robbed while traveling and not shoot yourself in the foot when filing an insurance claim. But first, allow me to indulge you in a personal experience of mine.
I Was Robbed While Traveling In Colombia. At Knifepoint.
It was July in the City of Eternal Spring in Medellín, Colombia. My second day there, I was sauntering around on a sunny day with a blonde very gringo-looking friend. I had just gone to the ATM and had all my cards on me including a buncha cash. In my daypack, I had my iPhone, Sony camera with 64gb memory card and brand new rain jacket.
We were headed back to our a hostel, but on a whim, we decided to walk up a deserted grassy path on a hill under a bridge. A cool view of the expansive city appeared to await us at the top. It was the middle of the day. What was the worst that could happen?
About half-way up I noticed two scraggly-looking men following us. This piqued my spidey-senses because nobody else was around. We stepped to the side and they nonchalantly slipped by. My suspicions dissipated as I watched them pause on a plateau further up.
We reached the plateau and two guys pleasantly approached us talking in real slangy Spanish. I could barely comprehend what they were saying (I’ll admit my Spanish was still pretty brutal at this time). We attempted to carry on a conversation for about a minute until I almost felt bad for judging them earlier. That was when one of them pulled out an 8″ blade that looked like it was for gutting farm animals.
I was completely surprised. I slowly raised my hands and the guy with the knife took my wallet with all my cards and cash. He then opened my backpack the bastard took everything inside of it. I looked over to at my blank-faced companion and saw her handing over her mirrorless camera and purse to his accomplice. Then the thieves took off like a couple rats spotted a hawk. Just like that, in two minutes, all our stuff was gone.
This was the first time I’d ever been mugged. I was angry at myself for not running away or doing more to resist, but in the end, they were the assholes. The best way to avoid a trip to the hospital is to just give them what they want.
A Colombian friend later told me that a lot of the time these types of thieves are usually pretty high on drugs and unpredictable. Doing anything else would have added a level of risk to the situation that just wasn’t worth for my material possessions. After all, my travel insurance had my gear covered up to $1000. I didn’t let this ruin my trip and ended up staying 6 weeks in Medellín.
So What Do You Do After You Get Robbed or Mugged?
- First, check to make sure you and the people around you are OK.
- Take note of everything that was stolen.
- Call your bank and cancel your credit/debit cards if they were lifted.
- Immediately file a police report (generally required within 24 hours of the incident for insurance purposes) with the nearest police station (or online if possible) and make sure you get a copy.
- Make sure you write down every item that was stolen and approximate value.
- Get in touch with your country’s consulate if your passport was taken.
- Check with your travel insurance provider to see if they cover you for theft (you bought travel insurance right?).
- Initiate an insurance claim as soon as possible with your insurance provider by doing it online or simply calling them.
- Again, make sure you write down every item stolen and the approximate value.
- Insurance will not cover theft of cash. You can cry about it later.
- Send your provider a copy of the police report right away.
- Follow all of the insurance claim instructions.
- You generally have 1 year to send your provider the rest of the information they require.
- When you get home from your trip, send your insurance provider all your original receipts and other required documentation.
- If you don’t have a receipt for an item your provider will only give you up to a certain maximum amount of money for it.
There you have it. Those are all the steps I’ve had to take multiple times to deal with getting robbed while traveling. It sucks, but in my experience travel insurance can save your ass. In the end, I got the maximum amount of money my insurance provider would allow for each claim, and you should too.