• Saturday, March 02, 2024
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BusinessDay

What’s the worth of your missing luggage?

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It is not uncommon to find airplane passengers come back to report missing luggage and when it’s not recovered after a certain time, such luggage is declared lost. In such an event, it becomes the burden of the airline to pay the passenger for the lost items, depending on the jurisdiction and legal framework operating in that country.

Many a time, passengers disagree with the value of benefit offered following the loss, and in most cases they discover that it was no fault of the airline to pay little amount as compensation, but because they underestimated the value of their luggage.

What is the value of your luggage? Do you declare the real contents rather than just the weight? Have you stocked key valuables in your bag and think it does not matter? Are you one of those who play smart by not declaring? All of these have its bad sides.

Sunny Adeda, insurance experts said to enable airline passengers get compensation on loss of baggage, they should declare the contents of their bag at the point of checking in. “Most foreigners usually declare, but here in Nigeria and most other African countries people hardly declare and so lose important valuables or get little compensation.

International passengers are advised to read the section relating to advice to international passengers on limitation of liability. A typical ticket will contain the following notice: Passengers on a journey involving an ultimate destination or a stop in a country other than the country of origin are advised that the provisions of a treaty known as the Warsaw Convention may be applicable to the entire journey including any portion entirely within the country of origin or destination.

Liability for death of or personal injury to passengers is limited in most cases to proven damages not  to exceed US$75,000 (inclusive of legal fees) per passenger and that this liability up to the limit shall not depend on negligence on the part of the carrier. Passenger are advised to read the Notice of baggage liability limitations on their tickets. A typical section of the notice will be: Liability for loss, delay or damage to baggage is limited unless a higher value is declared in advance and additional charges are paid.

For most international travel (including domestic portions of international journeys) the liability limit is approximately US $20 per kilo for checked baggage and US $400 per passenger for unchecked baggage.

For travels wholly between U.S. points federal rules require any limit on an airlines baggage liability to be at least US$ 1250 per passenger Excess valuation may not be included. Some carriers assume no liability for fragile, valuable or perishable articles.

Practical examples

A passenger who checked in two baggage from London to Lagos and only one arrived destination. After a thorough check and several visits to the carrier, the baggage could not be traced and declared loss.

Action by Airline: Notification to insurers; Cargo Manifest; Compensation based on US$ 20 per kilo.

A lady checked in her jewelries, camera, laptop and cash and the baggage was not found. What remedy would she have: Basically the above items are standard exclusion and should be properly stated in the condition of carriage. However, cover is provided under an All Risk Policy and all items must be declared and the appropriate premium payable.

In case my baggage is damaged, what is expected of the owner: Complaints must be made immediately and in writing to the carrier; provide evidence of your baggage tag and ticket; Complete property irregularity report; Excess baggage receipt; Maximum time to report is seven days and in case of delay not to exceed 21 days from the date baggage is delivered.

Passenger and Passenger baggage Legal Liability Insurance is a type of cover effected by an air operator or airline to protect itself against any sum or sums which they would be liable to pay in respect of any accidental bodily injury/Death/Loss of baggage to any person being a passenger and holding a ticket. These liabilities applies when the person is entering into, is being carried in or is alighting from the aircraft.

The insurer indemnifies the insured against all sums he is legally liable to pay whether according to international law or local legislation. Subject to a maximum limit of liability agreed at inception of the policy.

To process claim, there should immediate notification to the airline who in turn; will inform the insurance company; Obtain the passenger manifest together  with the nationalities of the passengers; specimen air ticket; passenger flight coupons; obtain statement of claim; names of injured passengers; obtain medical report in case of bodily injury/Hospitals were they were treated; copies of any correspondence with the next of kin or passenger legal representative; death/burial certificate; name and addresses of the next of kin and the Limit of liability is governed by applicable local/ international laws or convention.

Passenger liability claims fall under two main categories: Claims for death, injury, loss or damage to property or delay arising out of carriage under a contract of carriage with a commercial carrier; Claiming arising for death etc occurring on flights where the passengers are guests in a private aircraft or there is no contract of carriage.

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