If a family member falls ill or dies while you are travelling or before you depart, travel insurance can help you recover your cancellation costs including pre-booked tickets and hotels, costs associated with returning home at short notice and costs associated with resuming your journey at a later date. Most insurers have the following conditions:
You are covered for the unexpected death, sudden injury or illness of relative.
No cover if you were aware of any pre-existing medical condition before the policy started or if during the 90 days before the policy they needed any treatments, consultation, required medication or had been diagnosed with a terminal condition.
You are covered for the unexpected death, sudden injury or illness of a relative.
You are not covered if you are aware of any pre-existing medical condition before the policy started or if during the 90 days before the policy they needed any treatments, consultation, required medication or had been diagnosed with a terminal condition.
In order to qualify for trip cancellation cover following the illness or death of a relative, your family member must meet the insurer’s definition of ‘relative’. The term normally refers to a:
Spouse, de facto partner, Fiancé or a fiancée
Parent or parent-in-law
Son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law
Resident in Australia or New Zealand
Brother, sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law
Grandchild or grandparent
Step-parent, step-son or step-daughter
The exact definition of a relative for each travel insurance policy will differ. It is best to check with your insurer if you're unsure.
Am I covered if my relative falls ill or dies from a pre-existing medical condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is a condition that is known about prior to an insurable event.
If you're unaware of the condition, then yes
Trip cancellation cover may still be available if you were unaware of the likelihood of the illness or death occurring at the time of applying for cover. However, most insurers will only pay a limited benefit amount in such circumstances (typically around $2,000 for a single policy and $4,000 for a family policy). For example Check-In Travel Insurance states an exclusion for pre-existing medical conditions of your relative unless you are 'reasonably unaware'.
If Your Relative is hospitalised in or dies in Australia or New Zealand after the Policy is issued and the hospitalisation or death is due to a Pre-Existing Medical Condition that at the time of Policy issue You could not reasonably be aware would result in hospitalisation or death, then We will pay up to $2,000
What is considered as 'aware'
Travel insurers will typically exclude cover if your family member is on any sort of waiting list or if you were aware of any recent:
Can I resume my trip and be covered for it?
Most trip cancellation policies will allow you to resume your journey at a later date after being forced to return home due to the illness or death of a relative. There are normally specific conditions surrounding this type of cover, including:
Your trip must have been for a minimum number of days
Your insurance must have had a minimum period left to run (usually at least 50%)
You must have had no knowledge that such an incident might occur prior to your departure
Your resumption expenses must be pre-approved by your insurer
You must resume your journey before your policy expires.
John and Sue's trip re-arrangement
John and Sue were into the second week of their month-long European holiday when their son called and told them that his nine-year-old daughter, Emily (their granddaughter), was unwell and had been admitted to hospital. She had been diagnosed with a rare blood disease and would be undergoing life-saving treatment in the next few days.
This was completely unexpected news for John and Sue and they immediately rang their airline and insurance company and arranged to cancel their trip and return home to be with their granddaughter.
Emily remained in hospital for several weeks and, but soon began to make a full recovery. A relieved John and Sue were then able to resume their interrupted European holiday, thanks to their resumption of journey cover reimbursing them for the costs associated with rebooking their flights and accommodation.
Fee for bringing the date of original return flight forward: $200
New round trip flights back to resume journey: $3,500
Fees for changes to accommodation dates: $150
Total costs covered by insurance
$150 in excess
Am I still covered if my relative is over 90 years old?
Age limits apply to many trip cancellation policies when it comes to the illness or death of a relative. The age your relative can be will vary with insurers, but many set a maximum age of around 90, after which the illness or death is not deemed to be ‘unexpected’ and therefore no cover is offered. Some travel insurance brands do not state an age limit, however the health of your relative is a condition many policies will consider.
If your relative is elderly and you are concerned about whether you will be covered if an incident occurs while you’re away, you should read your product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully and contact your insurer for further information.
When won’t I be covered?
As with all forms of insurance, trip cancellation cover has certain exclusions or circumstances in which a claim will not be paid. These depend on the individual insurer, but they generally include:
Travelling despite suspecting that your relative might die or become hospitalised
Expenses that you incur while you’re at home
The cost of a return flight home if you haven’t already booked one (considered part of normal costs rather than emergency expenses)
Any expenses that you’ve already claimed for elsewhere in your travel insurance policy
Jessica Prasida is a graduate publisher for travel insurance at Finder. She has a Bachelor of Business and four years of experience in the travel industry, where she learned about the importance of travel insurance. Jess is currently studying a Masters of Marketing at the University of Technology in Sydney. In her spare time, she eats, and travels the world.
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