We recently had a comment submitted from an angry father, and we thought it important to address his concerns about travel insurance.
His daughter was on a college graduation trip (congratulations to the daughter!) when she received word that her best friend committed suicide. The daughter cancelled the remainder of her trip (that’s the definition of a trip interruption) and bought a one-way emergency ticket to get home for the funeral.
First, our sincere condolences. The death of someone so young is heartbreaking, and we wish both families our deepest sympathies. We also understand that this father is deeply hurt by his daughter’s grief and loss. Again, your deepest sympathies for your struggle.
Why the Travel Insurance Claim was Denied
The daughter’s travel insurance claim was denied for several reasons: first, suicide is not considered a covered death, and friends are not covered either.
But neither of these reasons is surprising to anyone.
Unfortunately, this father and daughter made several mistakes:
- They purchased the trip plan while buying the airline ticket.
- They (apparently) didn’t read and understand the travel insurance policy.
Do Not Buy your Travel Insurance While Buying your Airline Ticket
We’ve been warning consumers for a long while now that buying your travel insurance from a travel supplier is a bad idea: See that link to buy Travel Insurance now? Don’t click it! Travel suppliers are in the business of making money and so they’ve contracted for generic travel policies that may or may not cover your travel situation.
In this particular case, however, no travel plan would have covered the daughter’s trip interruption because no insurance plan covers suicide. In all travel insurance policies, you’ll find text similar to the following in the list of exclusions:
Benefits are not payable for any loss due to, arising or
1. suicide, attempted suicide or any intentionally self-inflicted
injury while sane or insane
Travel Insurance Doesn’t Provide Coverage for Best Friends, Former Roommates, Long-time Neighbors, etc.
While many friends can seem as close as family members, it’s true that travel insurance doesn’t provide benefits for a best friends’ death either.
In a travel insurance plan’s description of coverage, you’ll find that trip interruption (and trip cancellation) coverage pays if you are prevented from continuing your trip due to:
Death involving You or Your Traveling Companion or Your or Your Traveling Companion’s Business Partner or Your Family Member;
If you further read the definition of “Family Member”, you’ll typically find text that reads something like this:
“Family Member” means any of the following who resides in
the United States, Canada, or Mexico: Your or Your Traveling
Companion’s: legal spouse (or common-law spouse where
legal), legal guardian, son or daughter (adopted, foster, step
or in-law), brother or sister (includes step or in-law), parent
(includes step or in-law), grandparent (includes in-law),
grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, Domestic Partner,
an employed caregiver who lives with You, or a person for
whom You are the primary caregiver with whom You have
lived for 12 continuous months prior to the effective date of
Your Plan, whether or not they travel with You.
Disclaimer: These definitions are taken from the Vacation Classic travel insurance plan from TravelSafe. This is not the company, nor the plan, purchased by the father and daughter whose story we used in this post. We chose a random plan in order to demonstrate the wording in a typical travel insurance plan. Every travel insurance policy reads slightly differently, so it’s important to review your policy carefully to fully understand it.
In conclusion, we acknowledge and feel deeply for the father and daughter in this story, but we include their story here to inform other consumers. A travel insurance plan is just like any other insurance plan: it comes with exclusions and limits. Every travel insurance plan – even those sold as part of an airline ticket purchase – comes with a free look period that you can use to review the plan, understand the coverage and the exclusions and make changes or even cancel.
Passenger Protection laws ban ‘opt-out’ travel insurance sales.