Will your travel insurance pay if a family member dies?

Are you covered by your travel insurance if your overseas travel plans get disrupted by the death of a close relative?

As with all insurance policies, the fine print matters.

We know of a case where a person's elderly parent died, just a day or so before they were about to get on a plane for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Of course, they wanted to postpone their trip, spend time with their family, share memories and grieve.

Unfortunately, their travel insurance was provided by their credit card ... in the fine print, if relatives were 70+ years of age, the policy wouldn't provide them with a refund. This was a $35,000 holiday, mostly prepaid. Their options were:

  1. Forfeit the trip, and their money, to stay home to attend their Dads' funeral;
  2. Miss the funeral;
  3. Postpone the funeral.

Under much duress, they decided to go on the holiday and postpone the funeral until their return in four weeks' time. With modern embalming methods there isn't an issue in delaying a funeral for this length of time. However, I suspect they didn't enjoy their holiday as much, knowing that Dad was waiting for their return at the local undertakers, before completing their final goodbyes.

I'm told by my travel agent that some credit card travel insurance will pay out for travellers over age 70, but they won't pay out for an ill-health event if the parents of the travellers are 70+. Every credit card travel insurance is different, some have a 70+ rule, others have a 90+ rule for relatives.

Other travel insurance companies, I am told, don't have the 70+ age clause in them for the relatives of the traveller, so it might be worth shopping round if you have relatives in this bracket. If the parent of the traveller was 93 and died, you would want the policy to pay out so you could attend the funeral.

Regardless of the insurer, if a close family member has a terminal illness they won't pay out. Likewise, if a family member has a pre-existing condition then they are unlikely to pay out.

It does get rather complicated!

So, as we think about our winter escapes at this time of year, when you book, talk to your travel agent about getting appropriate insurance in place. Don't assume that your credit card travel insurance will be appropriate.

Seek expert advice in this area as it is always changing and remember, you will probably get what you pay for.

By guest writer, Jared Campbell