According to insurers, the number of claims due to delayed, lost or damaged luggage grew by one third during the past six months, a press release from Gjensidige states.
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'The number of incidents involving the luggage of air travellers increased during the first half of the year by one third when compared to the same period last year. Halfway through the summer we receive complaints regarding luggage delayed for hours or even days relatively often. In most cases, the luggage shows up, but often reaches the owner damaged or with some contents missing. It is particularly risky when suitcases are misplaced on non-Schengen international flights or aircraft heading towards non-EU countries', says Vytautas Endrijaitis, Senior Expert in the Travel and Personal Claims Unit of the Gjensidige insurance company.

According to Vytautas Endrijaitis, 35 per cent of all luggage-related incidents involve damage. 'In most cases, our customers complain of broken wheels, damage to the body of the suitcase itself, broken handles or zippers. When possible and economically reasonable to repair such luggage, we consider it damaged. Insurance indemnity per piece of luggage is up to EUR 250, and EUR 500 for all damaged items', says the representative of the insurance company.

According to the insurance expert, luggage loss cases are the rarest and most often occur in relation to connecting flights. 'Ordinarily a suitcase is declared lost within 21 days of the flight, and provided the loss is confirmed by the carrier. In such cases, the possibility to purchase replacement luggage is considered. The value of the items contained in the bag is determined on the basis of the bag's weight, but the owner may also produce invoices or receipts that provide the most objective criteria for assessing the damage. A passenger is ordinarily compensated EUR 26 for each kilogramme of lost luggage. However, if a purchase receipt is produced, up to EUR 250 may be paid as compensation for a single lost item', said the travel and personal claims expert.

V.Endrijaitis also noted that such luggage-related incidents are much most likely when returning to Lithuania. According to Gjensidige data, most reports of damaged luggage were filed by travellers returning to Lithuania from Indonesia. Other countries of departure from which luggage is most likely to be damaged or lost include Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Thailand and Turkey. 'Those are the most popular destinations for Lithuanian travellers and therefore the ones for which the most luggage-related incidents are reported. However, African and Asian countries, such as India, China and Morocco are clearly leaders in that respect. This year we received a particularly large number of reports on missing or damaged luggage from travellers returning from Tanzania', said the insurance expert.

According to Vytautas Endrijaitis, it is travellers themselves who are responsible for their luggage. 'That significantly mitigates the risk of such incidents. It is absolutely necessary to check the condition of the luggage, lock the suitcases carefully, and wrap them if possible. Any fragile items should be additionally packed in polyurethane foam or another suitable material. Passengers should not store any valuables, documents or cash in registered luggage. It is highly recommended not to not pack video or audio recorders and computers in registered luggage, which should always be carried in hand luggage."

The insurance expert also suggested keeping luggage registration documents, as they might be requested by airline and insurance companies. 'Furthermore, after luggage-related incidents, travellers should report their claims directly to carriers as soon as possible. The next step is to apply to insurers regarding damage indemnification."

According to Gjensidige, the average indemnities disbursed this year in relation to luggage damage was EUR 200. The largest amount paid this year as indemnity for luggage damage was EUR 572.

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