What's the Insurance Definition of Unattended Luggage?

Everyone knows to never leave their bags "unattended" when travelling. But do you really know the definition?

What's the Insurance Definition of Unattended Luggage?

How one traveller keeps their belongings "secure"

So you know to keep your bags secure when you're travelling. But what do you do with a pesky bag when you really, really, really need two hands and you JUST have to put it down? Just for a minute?

We spotted this example on a recent lunch trip from the World Nomads office (yes, the rice paper rolls were very nice, thanks).

What do you think of the solution in this video? They've wrap the little mothers around a lamppost and intertwined the straps so no-one can grab one without the others (and uprooting a lamppost):

This was in one of the busiest places in central Sydney (Australia). A place where hundreds of office workers file past every minute, where hordes of tourists gawk at one of our historic buildings, where spruikers tout for business and buskers busk. It's a prime spot for loitering without drawing any attention. I was able to stand like a pharaoh's mummy raised from the dead, with my arms outstretched as I used my iPhone to video the scene and no-one batted an eyelid. In other words, it is a petty thief's paradise.

Have you done something similar with your bags on your travels? Did it work for you? Is it safe?

Will my bags be insured if I wrapped it around a lamppost?

Is wrapping your bag around a lamppost enough to convince your travel insurer you took reasonable care with your valuable belongings? Not necessarily. Strictly speaking this is unattended luggage. It's unlikely in this case if your bags went missing you'd have a leg to stand on with your insurer.

Go on, give it a test run. Say it out loud:

I left my $1000 camera in a bag in a spot popular with thieves, but it's alright because it was tied to my friend's cheapo army surplus kit bag and a lamppost. I was only 20 metres away with my back to it watching a busker juggle chainsaws.


What's the definition of "Unattended Luggage"?

Basically, anywhere you leave your stuff where it can be taken is considered unattended.

This includes any bag not strapped to you, wrapped around a body part, clutched to your chest or put in a secure storage facility.

It also includes leaving your sunglasses on the backseat of the cab, your passport on the counter or your ipad in your checked bags.

To attend to your luggage or valuables, you need to have them with you and not let them out of your sight - literally.

Even if you're watching it like a hawk, if you're not able to stop someone taking your gear, then it's at risk of being stolen, so you may not be covered by your insurance.

Why you should always watch your luggage

Remember when you read the full description of coverage and your policy wording... (pause, big sigh)... ok, go and do it now. 

Anyway, there's a bit in there that says you'll do your best to minimise the risk of needing to make a claim by taking proper care of your stuff. If you don't stick to that part of the bargain with the insurer, well...

The truth is, if you really were watching the bag like a hawk, no thief would have taken your valuables. They might have tried, but I'm sure a terse "Oi, you!" would have scared them off.

You have to act as though your valuable belongings are not insured.

Instead of:

"Oh, my camera's been stolen. Never mind, the insurance will pay for a new one (and I really don't mind paying higher premiums because of needless claims)."

OK, maybe you wouldn't say that second bit, but how about this attitude?

"I'm not going to let some sneaky thief make off with my precious camera, I"ll foil their dastardly plan by A: hanging on to my bag and B: not putting anything valuable in the bag I'm tying to a lamppost (or on top of a bus in India/or on an overhead rack on a train while I sleep/or by my feet while I buy a ticket/or under my chair in a busy restaurant)."

See, it's not so hard. Just don't give the thieves the opportunity. Keep valuable items and important documents on your person at all times. Never just in a bag you put down somewhere.

I suppose in this particular situation it'd be okay to tie your bag to a lamppost if there was nothing in it but dirty laundry, a few snacks and a map you got for free from the hostel i.e nothing of value. Then if the bag does get stolen it's no big deal.

And that, my friends, is the secret to being a happy traveller - avoid big deals.

By the way, I went past the same spot 3 hours later, and the bags were still there, so what do I know!

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  • Arne Ewing said

    Keep your luggage secure is very important specially when you are out. For me it was always been a question "how will I protect my money or currency" or are there any bags which can help me to transfer cash safe fully.

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