When a death occurs in the family, there can be a lot of turmoil and disruption. For travelers, a death in the family can be even worse because you may have to cancel your trip, interrupt it and come home early, and otherwise abandon or change your travel plans.
Changing even a single airline ticket these days is often cost-prohibitive and it’s up to the discretion of the airline representative whether to waive the change fee or not. The same is true for cruises and tours that have already been booked and paid.
Many travelers – especially those with elderly parents or family members who are ill – want to know if travel insurance covers death in the family.
It does … with some exceptions.
How travel insurance helps with family death
Here’s how travel insurance works when a death occurs in the family:
If you have to cancel an insured trip because a family member unexpectedly dies, travel insurance will reimburse you for your pre-paid trip expenses.
If you have to interrupt your trip and return home due to a family death, travel insurance will reimburse you for your unused pre-paid costs due to your change in travel plans.
It’s important to note that there are some important exceptions travelers should understand. These include:
The family member must be a ‘covered’ family member and every plan defines this differently. In some cases, for example, a sister- or brother-in-law may not be considered a covered family member. You’ll find the list of covered family members in the definitions section of your travel insurance plan documentation.
The death must not have been the result of a pre-existing medical condition (even one that you or the family member didn’t know about) unless you purchase a plan with coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
The death must not have been the result of suicide or mental illness as these are excluded from all travel insurance coverage.
Many people are surprised when their travel insurance plan doesn’t cover the loss of best friends, close acquaintances, and even pets. This is because those persons and pets who are important to us may not be considered family members as defined by the travel insurance policy.
To be able to make a claim on your travel insurance policy should someone who is not a family member as defined by the travel insurance plan documents die, you’ll need to have ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage and you’ll have to cancel your trip within the time frame defined by that coverage (sometimes as early as two days prior to your trip).