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Medication mishap

Kahu had a medical condition that required regular medication. Although Kahu’s travel insurer agreed to cover his medical condition, when Kahu needed to buy more medication while overseas, the travel insurer declined Kahu’s claim for associated costs.


Kahu felt the travel insurer’s decision was unreasonable and referred his complaint to FSCL.



Kahu said he had disclosed his pre-existing medical condition to his travel insurer, paid the additional premium and thought that any related costs would be covered. Kahu explained that he was rushing to catch his plane and accidentally did not pack enough medication for the trip. As Kahu’s life depends on the medication, he had no choice but to visit a doctor for a replacement prescription and have the prescription filled at a greater expense than if he were in New Zealand.


Kahu’s insurer did not agree. Although the insurer agreed to cover Kahu’s medical condition, the insurer referred to an exclusion for continuing treatment, including medication, which commenced prior to the journey. The insurer also felt that Kahu had not taken all reasonable steps to avoid loss.



Our starting point was the insurance policy. Under the policy the insurer agreed to compensate Kahu for medical costs incurred as a result of illness occurring on the journey. If Kahu’s illness had deteriorated while overseas, the insurer would have been obliged to cover this cost. However, it was our view that the insurer was not obliged to reimburse Kahu for regular medication for a condition that commenced prior to the journey.


We also observed that many people who travel overseas will be taking medication for a pre-existing medical condition. If the insurer agreed to cover the cost of replacement medication for forgetful travellers the cost of premiums would rise significantly.


We said Kahu should discontinue his complaint.



Kahu was disappointed with our decision, but agreed not to take the matter further.


Insights for consumers

You are obliged to do what you can to avoid loss. If you are taking medication for a pre-existing medical condition, you need to take enough for your journey.