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Escaping the in-laws

Joanna’s father-in-law had died and because her husband was busy with their family business, Joanna agreed to travel to Australia to help her husband’s family tidy up her father-in-law’s house ready for sale. While Joanna was in Australia she had an argument with her husband’s family and, when she called to talk to her husband about it, she discovered he was suffering from the flu and struggling to manage their business commitments.

Joanna decided to come home early to look after her husband and their business, and because she was upset as a result of the argument. Joanna was unable to change her ticket, so purchased a business class ticket for $800.

Joanna submitted an insurance claim, asking her insurer to reimburse her for the cost of the new business class ticket. Joanna’s insurer declined her claim so Joanna complained to FSCL.



Joanna thought insurance was there to cover any unexpected change in her travel plans. Joanna said that she felt she had no option but to return home. Not only was Joanna upset by the family dispute, but she was concerned about her husband’s health and needed to help with their business commitments.

The insurer declined Joanna’s claim saying that the policy did not cover loss if you changed your mind or if you changed your plans as a result of a business obligation.



We explained to Joanna that her insurer had agreed to compensate her for cancellation fees or lost deposits if her journey changed as a result of circumstances beyond her control. While Joanna had experienced an unpleasant incident with her family and was concerned for her husband it was her decision to bring the departure date forward. We also noted that the policy specifically excluded cover for a change in plans as a result of a business obligation. In our view the insurer was entitled to decline Joanna’s claim.



Joanna was disappointed, but not surprised by our decision and agreed to withdraw her complaint.


Insights for consumers

Insurance is there to cover you for unexpected loss that is completely outside your control. Where you choose to change your travel for your own reasons your policy is unlikely to cover your loss.