Arriving in Las Vegas I was frazzled. Turning up at SFO airport the night before I was told that the flight was full – and my name wasn’t on the passenger list.
A few frantic phone calls I was on the next flight to Las Vegas, a day later than planned and my wallet already significantly lighter than planned; not exactly what I want when I had a full day pre-scheduled.
With an issue launch at a major Las Vegas magazine that evening I showered, changed and did my make-up in double time before having to run down the Strip in search of the hotel where the event was, but with the lure of the Internet I spent 10minutes online updating my status updates and downloading a few photos from my camera to share on my Facebook page before putting the camera behind the computer and running out the door.
If only I had known that would be the last time I was going to see my beloved Canon Rebel X3 then I would have locked it away.
Over the next three days I looked for my camera around the room but not seriously. I’d been to Vegas before and didn’t have much interest in taking photos of the barren desert or neon signs, and with fine weather I preferred to spend my days by the pool relaxing.
I continually assumed that it was in the hotel room – it seemed like a decent place if not on the cheaper side – but it wasn’t behind the laptop where I thought I’d left it. I guessed that it was deep into my suitcase and really, after breaking the lens shell in San Francisco I figured I needed a break from the camera, and it from I.
On the morning of our departure I slowly began packing my suitcase, and then tipping everything out and starting again. On the third pack and search of the room, my heart sank.
My camera was nowhere to be found.
I double and triple checked everywhere, even asking the girl with whom I was travelling with; I spoke to security at the hotel, reception, and housekeeping – No one had seen my camera.
As someone who’d never lost anything but a phone (which was left on board a plane) I was freaking out with what to do and I was sad.
San Francisco had been amazing and the SD card with all of the photos was in the camera – crap!
I’d deemed my hotel room a safe place to leave my camera during my night out and the following morning, but security lacked there whether it was from a hotel staff member or the girl that I was sharing with.
Worst of all, there was no safe in the hotel room to lock my valuables even if I had considered that an option.
Finding a Police Station in Las Vegas was surprisingly difficult, so I left Nevada without filing a statuary declaration saying it was lost or stolen; after speaking to my family and my insurance company I found that this was a rookie error and was told to file it in the next town – Kingman, Arizona.
The case officer at the Police Station was somewhat sympathetic as she took me through the process of filing for a stolen camera but told me truthfully that without knowledge or serial numbers – all in Australia – then was little to no chance of getting my camera back.
I was heartbroken.
Despite having a love/hate relationship with the camera since I purchased it, and later found out that I was ripped off in Hong Kong, the camera had travelled the world with me for close to three years and I loved it.
Fast-forward 6-months and I had a new camera, but I still missed my little Rebel.
One thing that that trip taught me was the importance of good travel insurance to ensure that I can replace any items should I ever need to report a theft again (touch wood).
If you want to claim on travel insurance for goods that have been stolen you must have a Police report or Statutory Declaration from the nearest station, and remember to include items such as SD-cards, filters, and any lens that was attached to the camera in the list otherwise you may not be able to get anything back for them when making the claim.
I waited until I was back in Australia to claim on my travel insurance to ensure I had all of the receipts and other paperwork to accompany my camera and the other items. It’s also quite a paper-intensive exercise with plenty of forms to sign and fax, but the outcome is worth it.
After a few return emails and additional questions, it was deemed that 80% of the value of the camera and additions were paid back to me*. That was enough to cover the cost of my new camera, a Nikon D7000.
To this day I look at my accommodation options differently. Despite being stolen from a hotel room I now make a point of not staying in hostels and prefer to stay in “safe” hotels that I pick with care.
I always make sure my travel insurance policy is up-to-date and has a ‘lost & stolen item’ budget that will cover the value of the items I travel with – just in case, and one of my credit cards also offers me a backup insurance plan for any reason that the travel insurance doesn’t cover at no extra cost.
Travel insurance is often seen as an optional painful expense when you’re travelling, but even if you have only one item of value lost, damaged or stolen during your travels I can personally assure you that you’d rather spend the extra money to ensure you’re covered rather than be left in the dark and out of pocket if something bad would happen.
Have you ever had to claim on travel insurance?
Please note: Different insurance companies and circumstances surrounding claims will offer you different percentages of the value of the item/s stolen.