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What happens when travel plans change

Andrew and Louise were planning a trip to their niece’s wedding in France when they learned that their daughter, Tamsin, was unexpectedly pregnant.  Tamsin’s baby was due to be born during Andrew and Louise’s planned trip.  While delighted for Tamsin, the pregnancy brought back difficult memories of their own still born first baby.  Andrew and Louise felt they had no option but to cancel their trip to be available to support Tamsin.

Fortunately, Andrew and Louise were able to recover some of the travel costs, but were left $1,700 out of pocket, so claimed against their travel insurance.  The insurer declined the claim, referring to a policy exclusion for loss arising directly or indirectly out of the insured’s disinclination to travel or personal wishes.

Andrew and Louise complained to FSCL.

Andrew’s view

Andrew explained that they had not simply changed their mind.  Their personal history meant that the cancellation was not a choice but a compulsion, Andrew said “As a young couple we experienced a tragic end to our first pregnancy without family on hand and it is just inconceivable to us that we would not be on hand for our daughter’s first born.”


In our view, the insurer was entitled to decline Andrew’s claim.  We explained to Andrew that insurance policies have insuring clauses and exclusion clauses.  In this case, while Andrew met the insuring clause, he had cancelled travel due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond his control, an exclusion clause applied. 

While Andrew and Louise may have felt they had no option but to cancel their travel and, remain in New Zealand to support Tamsin, it was our view that this decision fell within the scope of a disinclination to travel due to personal wishes.  For their own, very personal, reasons Andrew and Louise felt they had no option but to forgo attending their niece’s wedding.  This was their decision, and not one their insurer had agreed to cover.


However, we felt Andrew and Louise’s circumstances were somewhat unique, and given their personal history, together with Tamsin’s individual situation, we suggested the insurer offer to refund the premium of $114.52.

The insurer and Andrew accepted our suggestion and the complaint was resolved.

Our insight

Many people purchase insurance believing it will cover them for any unforeseen event.  However, all insurance policies contain exclusions, and your policy is unlikely to cover you simply because something happens that causes you to change your mind about travelling.