Here’s why a $16,000 luggage reimbursement claim will always fall flat

Luggage reimbursement

After her recent flight on Interjet, Lynda Leibrock discovered that unidentified “airline goo” ruined three pieces of her luggage. She hoped the airline would quickly pay her luggage reimbursement request– all $16,000 of it.

Things didn’t work out the way she had hoped.

Leibrock’s case is an example of how placing an unrealistic number on your luggage reimbursement request can end with your claim being dismissed outright as preposterous. It is also a reminder to document your damages with clear photos and request compensation based on those damages and your policy limits.

An unrealistic luggage reimbursement request

This traveler says airline goo ruined her luggage“My luggage came back from Mexico in some type of oily substance. I didn’t know if it was toxic, ” Leibrock initially told me. “And not knowing whether this substance was toxic, I threw everything out.”

Leibrock was under the impression that because she had purchased trip insurance from RoamRight that she would be reimbursed for all of her discarded items.

Luggage reimbursement has limitations
A $16,000 luggage reimbursement claim?

“Everything was ruined,” She explained. “I filed a claim with the airline, Interjet, but they offered me just $45 for dry cleaning. I also filed a claim with RoamRight and they denied the claim because I didn’t save the luggage nor the items. But who was going to pay for possible medical bills or decontaminating my house if we got ill?”

The value placed on her complaint to our advocacy team? $16,000. I was sure that this was a typo and pointed it out to Leibrock.

She quickly responded that it was not a typo. Her estimated value of the items that she had tossed in the garbage can was $16,000. She assured me that she had taken pictures of the damages and that she had receipts for the items.

An amended luggage reimbursement request

Once she gathered all her receipts and sent them to me, she amended her compensation expectations to “around $8,000.”

There are multiple problems with Leibrock’s claim that are important for travelers to understand.

The most glaring problem, of course, is that there are clear liability limits as to what an airline will reimburse a passenger for if their bags are lost or damaged. Because Leibrock was traveling from Mexico, the Montreal Convention rules apply. Under this regulation, the maximum amount that a traveler can expect for reimbursement of luggage is around $1,600 — if it is determined that the luggage has been lost or damaged.

Tossing the evidence in the garbage can

But if you are claiming damage to your luggage and the items inside your luggage, you must provide proof to the airline. By throwing away all of her items, she had also thrown away her proof. This resulted in Interjet, for the most part, rejecting her claim.

This traveler threw out all her belongings after a recent flight and then filed a $16,000 luggage reimbursement requestAlthough this part of the story was strange, I have encountered other consumers who have thrown away critical evidence to their cases. In fact, one recent hotel guest believed bedbugs had infested his belongings during his stay. His response?  He told me that he immediately threw $3,000 worth of belongings in a trash can along the road.

To be clear, it is never wise to toss away high-valued evidence.

Proof of damage?

But back to Leibrock’s case. I thought the photos that she had taken might support her claim for some type of reimbursement for her lost items — albeit drastically smaller than she was expecting.

However, Leibrock’s photographic “evidence” quickly squashed that thought. (You can view her photos above the title of this story)

I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at in some of the photographs.

I explained to Leibrock that these photos were not going to help her case. In fact, I thought that they hurt her case. These photos are dark, blurry and they show her luggage inside what appears to be her closet. Her evidence contradicts the claim that she threw the items away so that they would not contaminate her home.

At this point, I was a bit perplexed by Leibrock and suggested that she post her case to our forums — which she did.

What did RoamRight say about this luggage reimbursement request?

I decided to contact RoamRight and find out why the company had denied her claim in its totality. I thought this information could be helpful for other travelers as well as for Leibrock.

No one at RoamRight would speak to me concerning Leibrock. I received an email from one executive that simply said, “no comment.” Since Leibrock had permitted the company to talk with me, this response was surprising. Typically, most companies are eager to clarify their position for us.

Eventually, I heard back from one executive. He assured me that Leibrock’s claim had been thoroughly investigated. He also said that, despite what Leibrock had told me, she knew why RoamRight had rejected her claim.

What went wrong?

Since neither Leibrock or RoamRight will clarify for us, I can only surmise what went wrong here.

First, Leibrock placed an unreasonably high value on this luggage reimbursement request. RoamRight places a maximum limit on her trip insurance policy of $2,500 per person (not per bag). The $16,000 figure most likely set off alarm bells with the insurance company and caused it to closely analyze the claim. And unfortunately for Leibrock, she had no proof of damage. Providing receipts is not sufficient to prove damages. And the pictures do not show the damages that she is claiming.

When you discover that an airline has damaged your belongings, you should not leave the airport until you make a claim. In this case, Leibrock should have snapped her photos inside the well-lit airport and left the luggage in the claims department if she was concerned about contamination.

If she arrived home and discovered the damage, it was imperative to photograph the luggage in good light; making sure that the damage was visible in the photos before discarding the articles. Each damaged high-ticket item also needed to be photographed.

Finally, if you are indeed traveling with $16,000 worth of belongings, these articles should be itemized with your homeowner’s insurance under a “valuable items” policy. You may have some protection there, but again proof of loss or damage is needed.

The final word

We can’t help Leibrock because she made too many missteps in her efforts to obtain reimbursement for her damaged belongings. Her initial, incredibly high request probably tainted her claim from the start. And the pictures that she provided did not properly document any damage. I can’t say for sure what happened here, but it is a study of what not to do if you find your luggage is damaged by airline “goo.”

Should Leibrock have received any reimbursement for her damaged luggage?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend