In early 2018 Archie and his wife, Veronica, booked flights to Europe as part of a two-month long bicycle tour, from June to August 2018. Their plan was to start with a few days cycling in Australia, and then stop briefly in Dubai before moving on to Europe. Archie booked the tickets using his premium credit card, which triggered automatic travel insurance.
Archie and Veronica left for their trip, and had no issues in Australia. However, on their flight to Dubai, Veronica’s leg suddenly became very sore, to the point Veronica could not walk. Once they landed in Dubai, Archie and Veronica saw a doctor, who diagnosed Veronica with an inflamed sciatic nerve. The doctor recommended Archie and Veronica cut their trip short and return to New Zealand.
Archie booked plane tickets from Dubai back to New Zealand the next day. After he and Veronica arrived home in New Zealand, Archie lodged a claim for the costs of the cancelled trip with his travel insurer. The insurer approved most of the claim, including the cost of Archie and Veronica’s flights from Dubai to New Zealand. However, they did not refund the cost of Archie’s planned flights home from Europe to New Zealand.
Archie felt he should be refunded the cost of his cancelled flights from Europe to New Zealand, as well as the cost of his replacement flights from Dubai. He had spent $3,798 on his flights from Europe to New Zealand, and he was now unable to use the flights, or to enjoy his holiday. He felt the insurer’s decision had left him $3,798 out-of-pocket.
Archie complained to FSCL.
We reviewed the terms of Archie’s insurance policy, and found that the insurer was only required to pay for Archie’s cancelled flights, or his replacement flights, whichever were more expensive. The policy would not cover planned flights and replacements.
We did sympathise with Archie’s situation. We understood he had spent $3,798 on flights as part of a European holiday. He had not been able to enjoy this holiday, so he felt he did not get any benefit from the $3,798 he spent on flights.
However, we were satisfied that the insurer’s decision was fair. Archie had paid $3,798 for flights home to New Zealand, and a flight home is what he received. Archie might not have been covered for the costs of his cancelled flights, but his insurance did mean he was not out of pocket for the cost of his (much more expensive) replacement tickets.
Archie was disappointed with our findings, but agreed to withdraw his complaint.
Insight for consumers
Travel insurance policies will usually cover you for financial loss, but not any loss of enjoyment. If you get sick or injured during a trip but you are still able to use your flights and accommodation, your costs likely won’t be covered, even if you weren’t able to use your flights and accommodation as part of the holiday you were hoping for.