Travel insurance for family emergency

If you need to cancel your trip due to the unforeseen illness or death of a relative that's not travelling with you, travel insurance can help. Here's how.

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:

This guide outlines the benefits and conditions that apply to trip cancellation cover, including resumption of journey and pre-existing medical conditions.

Compare conditions of cover for different Australian travel insurance brands

Brand Maximum age of relative Conditions Apply
1-cover-new1 85
  • You are covered for unexpected hospitalisation or death of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchase your policy.
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AMEX Travel Insurance No age limit stated
  • You are covered for the unexpected accidental death or hospitalisation of a relative.
  • No cover if the death, injury or the onset of sickness occurs before you start your journey or if any reasonable person would be aware of the onset of sickness.
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Budget Direct Travel Insurance No age limit*
  • 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.
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Columbus Direct 84
  • You are covered for any unexpected serious illness, injury or death of a relative that lives in Australia.
  • No cover if the death or illness is due to a pre-existing health condition.
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CoverMore No age limit*
  • You are covered for the sudden serious injury, sickness, disease or death of a relative.
  • No cover if the death is a result of an injury or illness that occurs before you commence your journey.
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Fast Cover 85
  • You are covered for the unexpected death, injury or hospitalisation of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
InsureandGo No age limit stated
  • You are covered for the unexpected death, sudden injury or illness of a relative.
  • You are not covered for any of your relative's medical conditions you knew about before the policy starts.
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Medibank Travel Insurance Not stated
  • You are covered for health or death related emergencies of relatives or business partners who are not travelling with you, as long as it was not connected to an existing condition.
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iTrek 85
  • You are covered for unexpected hospitalisation or death of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchase your policy.
Get quote
Simply Travel Insurance Logo 85
  • You are covered for unexpected hospitalisation or death of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
Skiinsurance.com.au 85
  • You are covered for unexpected hospitalisation or death of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchase your policy.
Get quote
STA Travel Insurance Not stated
  • You are covered for the unexpected death or hospitalisation of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
Tick Travel Insurance Not stated
  • 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.
Get quote
tid-logo-blue Not stated
  • You are covered for the unexpected death or hospitalisation of your relative in Australia.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
travel insurance saver logo 80
  • You are covered for the sudden hospitalisation or death of a relative in Australia as a result of serious illness or injury.
  • If your relative has a pre-existing medical condition you can get cover, but you must complete a Non-Travelling Relative Medical Appraisal form. Once it has been submitted, a QBE representative will inform advise you if cover is approved.
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Travel Insuranz 85
  • You are covered for the accidental serious injury, serious illness or death a relative.
  • No cover if your relative's death or illness that arises from pre-existing medical conditions.
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Virgin Money 85
  • You are covered for the unexpected death or hospitalisation of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
worldcare travel insurance logo 85
  • You are covered for the unexpected death or hospitalisation of a relative.
  • If your relative is hospitalised or dies due to a pre-existing medical condition, you are only covered if you were unaware of the likelihood of hospitalisation or death when you purchased your policy.
Get quote
youGo Not stated
  • You are covered for the sudden serious injury, sickness, disease or death of a relative.
  • No cover if the death, injury or illness occurs before you commence your journey.
Get quote
Easy Travel Insurance 80
  • You are covered for the sudden hospitalisation or death of a relative in Australia as a result of serious illness or injury.
  • If your relative has a pre-existing medical condition you can get cover, but you must complete a Non Travelling Relative Medical Appraisal form. Once it has been submitted, a QBE representative will inform advise you if cover is approved.
Get quote

What do insurers consider as a ‘relative’?

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:

  • Treatments
  • Consultation
  • Diagnosis
  • Required medication
  • Upcoming surgery

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.

Costs incurred

  • 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

  • $3,700

Out-of-pocket costs

  • $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

Conditions of Australian travel insurance brands for non-travelling relative deaths and injuries

Maurice Thach

An insurance researcher and writer for finder.com.au who loves finding an answer to the question "Am I covered for ________?" Maurice has also completed a Tier 1 Life Insurance and a Tier 2 General Insurance Certification under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 146. This means he can confidently provide general advice for life insurance and non-life insurance products.

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9 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    KimAugust 20, 2018

    My husband and I are looking at planning a big overseas trip to Europe next year, however, I have a Dad who has cancer. At the moment he is doing fine but he could theoretically relapse at anytime. Is there am insurance policy that will cover us if we have to cancel our trip because he gets sick before we leave or while we are away and have to return? I’ve been looking and there doesn’t appear to be any for pre-existing illness of a family member only if you did not know of illness before you took the policy out.
    Thanks for your help.

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      It is true that most insurers today don’t cover trip cancellation due to a relative with a pre-existing condition falling ill. However, with careful research, you will still be able to find one. On this page, you will see a list of insurers who cover trip cancellation. Among the insurers on this list, you might want to reach out to Travel Insurance Saver and Easy Travel Insurance. Both of these insurers may cover you provided that you complete a Non Travelling Relative Medical Appraisal form. Once it has been submitted, a QBE representative will advise you if cover is approved.

      For the other insurers, you may still give them a try and ask for other options. In most cases, these insurers will be willing to cover you for an extra fee.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  2. Default Gravatar
    peterMay 6, 2018

    My wife and I, 72 & 73 years old are going to Canada for 10 weeks. My 94 year old mother has no terminal illness and has general good health but has recently been diagnosed with poor heart function. Can I get cover for returning to Australia in the event of an emergency regarding her health?

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniMay 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      From this page, kindly check the “Maximum age of relative” column to check which insurers have no age limit since your mother is already 94. I suggest that you contact these insurers directly before getting a quote since you mentioned that she was diagnosed with poor heart function.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  3. Default Gravatar
    DawnJuly 26, 2017

    I have a trip booked to go overseas soon. I live in Australia and my dad has been in hospital in UK recently and I am worried that if something happens we may not be able to go on holiday. My insurer says we have no cover if anything happens to a relative overseas ( only if he lives in Oz or NZ). Any suggestions?

    • finder Customer Care
      RenchJuly 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Dawn,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      You are actually on the right page on where you can compare travel insurances. If a family member falls ill or dies while you are traveling or before you depart on your journey, the cancellations portion of your travel insurance can help cover the costs you incur for canceling your trip. You may click the name of your preferred insurance company to see more details then click on ‘Get Quote’ button to direct you to their official site.

      Kind regards,
      Rench

  4. Default Gravatar
    JasonJune 20, 2017

    My ex-partner has suddenly died. She was due to look after our 16 year old son whilst I was going on holiday with new partner. We can’t go away at the moment as insurance is saying it’s not covered but we can’t leave a minor by himself.

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 20, 2017

      Hi Jason!

      Insurer’s cover for these events would depend largely on how they define a spouse, de facto partner, Fiancé or a fiancée. You can contact your insurer to verify this out. If you’re not satisfied with their advice, you can request to be escalated to their internal dispute team to have a second look on your situation.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    • Default Gravatar
      JasonJune 21, 2017

      Thanks

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