Lost something on holiday? Here's how to get it back

Jess Bown
Lost property: post-holiday advice
Lost property: post-holiday advice

Ever had that sinking feeling when you arrive home from a holiday to find your phone, bank card or a favourite piece of jewellery is missing?

Figures from insurer Aviva show that four in 10 holidaymakers lose valuables, or have them stolen, during the course of their trips.

See also: How to make a claim when your holiday goes wrong

See also: Why you need to look at your car insurance policy now

If you're among them, following these three top tips should help you to find your lost belongings, or at least getting your money back if you can't.

1. Cancel anything that could cost you money

If you get home from holiday and realise you are missing a credit or debit card, it's essential to tell your bank straight away so they can cancel it in case someone tries to use it fraudulently.

Every bank has a phone number specifically for reporting missing cards.

For lost travellers' cheques, meanwhile, just get in touch with the provider and follow their process for replacing the lost cheques.

If you realise you have a lost a mobile phone, it's also important to tell your network provider straight away so it can be blocked (after calling it first to see if anyone responds). Otherwise, you might have to pay for any unauthorised phone calls.

Some phone networks will only charge you a maximum of £100 for any calls made after your phone is lost or stolen. But this is generally only the case if you report it within 24 hours.

2. Find out who to contact

If you think you left an item at your hotel or holiday accommodation, you should contact the management or owner directly to see if it has been found.

If you think it was lost in transit, say on a plane or a train, you will need to find a number for the company running the service.

Most airlines, ferry operators and train companies have lost property services. To increase the chances of having your belongings returned, it is important to give them as much information as possible about the items you have lost.

You should also report a lost item as quickly as possible. Many lost Property Offices will often discard items not claimed within a certain timeframe, say 30 days.

In the case of lost hold luggage, meanwhile, you can generally make a compensation claim if it fails to turn up within 21 days. You can claim up to about £1,100 for each bag lost by an airline.

3. Make an insurance claim

Valuables gone for good? If you've got travel insurance, you can always make a claim for them.

Many travel insurance policies impose a deadline of 31 days for any claims, so it's best not to hand around once you realise you will not be able to get your belongings back.

Again, the more information you can provide, the easier it will be for the insurer to assess your claim and organise a payout.

Remember though, that there will be a limit on the amount you can claim, and that you will have to pay an excess towards the total amount lost.

If, for example, there is an excess of £100 and the claim is for £500, the insurer will pay £400.

Even if you don't have travel insurance, you may still be able to recoup losses for recently purchased items via your credit card.

Some so-called premium cards provide purchase protection, which means when you buy something and it is stolen or lost within a set period of time, typically around 90 days, the credit card company will give you your money back.