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When unexpected events occur

Sue was due to meet her cousin in Venice before travelling with the rest of her family to the Galapagos islands. Unfortunately, on her way to meet up with the family, Sue’s cousin passed away in a plane crash.

Sue cancelled her travel arrangements and instead meet her cousin’s family in Paris. Sue them flew to Romania (with her cousin’s family) to repatriate the body while her family returned to New Zealand. Sue claimed the cost of cancellation for the sailing trip, her trip to Rome and flights from Amsterdam from her travel insurer.

However, the insurer declined Sue’s claim because her travel insurance policy for “close relatives” did not include Sue’s cousin and because her cousin was not travelling with her for 75% of the trip.



Sue was upset that her claim was declined based on the view that her cousin was not a “close relative”, as her cousin was an important member of her family.

Sue argued that the insurer should pay her claim in good faith due to the unfortunate circumstances. Sue explained that she was only claiming for the portion of travel that her cousin would have accompanied her on.

Sue complained to FSCL.



We spoke to the insurer about Sue’s complaint. The insurer maintained that the claim did not meet the insurance clause definition of “close relative” and “travelling companion”. However, the insurer agreed to partially settle the claim due to the sensitive circumstances.

Sue was disappointed that the insurer did not pay all the costs associated with the unforeseen event of her cousin’s death. However, she reluctantly accepted the insurer’s offer in settlement of her complaint.


Insights for consumers

An insurance policy is the basis of your contract with your insurer. Any claim is subject to the terms of your policy. Insurance policies will not cover every situation, but rather only those risks that the insurer is willing to accept. It is normal for cover to differ between policies and the quality of cover is generally reflected in the premium that you pay.