Travel insurance for a death in the family

If a family member dies while you’re travelling or before you depart, travel insurance can help to cover the costs of cancellation, delays or returning home at short notice.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 21 March 2022  | 3 mins read

Will a death in the family be covered by travel insurance?

Typically, your travel insurance policy can help if you need to cancel your trip suddenly - for example, if there’s an unexpected death in the family.

Travel insurance is designed to protect you against unforeseen situations that might affect or interrupt your travel plans.

So, if a close relative suddenly becomes seriously ill or dies, your policy may be able to cover the non-refundable costs of cancelling or cutting short your trip.

Key points

  • Travel insurance can help if your travel plans are affected by an unexpected death in the family
  • The definition of a close family member and who you can claim for varies between insurers
  • You won’t be able to claim if the death is due to a pre-existing medical condition
  • Some insurers provide 24/7 support to help you or your family deal with an emergency

When might a death in the family not be covered by insurance?

Travel insurance will only cover you for the unexpected illness or death of a close family member.

This means that if they had a medical condition when you took out your policy that was related to their death, you wouldn’t be covered.

Plus, the definition of who counts as a close family member and whether you can make a claim for them will vary between insurers.

It’s always best to check policy exclusions or contact your provider if you’re unsure how your cover works.

Who is considered a family member?

To make a claim for the death of a family member, you’ll need to know your insurer’s definition of a close or immediate relative.

This varies between providers, but policies may include cover for:

  • Someone you’ve been living with for at least six months
  • Mother, father, sister, or brother
  • Wife or husband
  • Your children (including fostered, adopted and stepchildren)
  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Parents-in-law
  • Sons or daughters-in-law
  • Brothers or sisters-in-law

Some policies may only include spouses and children. Relatives like an uncle, aunt or cousin are often not included, so check your insurer’s definition of a close relative.

Am I covered if a family member dies before the trip?

If you need to cancel your trip because a family member died, your travel insurance may be able to help you cover the costs.

To make a valid claim, the death will need to be unexpected and not caused by any medical condition your relative had before you took out travel cover.

The family member will also need to fall under your insurer’s definition of a close relative.

Your travel insurance should cover the non-refundable costs for cancelling or delaying your trip.

What if I die during my trip?

Having travel insurance in place can help your family to navigate this very difficult and distressing time.

Before you leave for your trip, share a copy of your policy documents with them so they’ll know who to contact in case of an emergency.

If you die while you’re away, your insurers should be contacted as soon as possible.

They may provide a 24-hour emergency helpline and support your family with the arrangements that need to be made.

Your cover can help your family with any expenses involved, including legal fees and the cost of returning your remains to the UK.

If you die abroad, your family should also contact the British Embassy or Consulate in that country - they’ll be able to provide helpful advice and information on what to do.

Am I covered if a family member becomes terminally ill?

This is another situation where it will depend on whether their illness was a pre-existing condition when you took out your travel insurance policy.

If the diagnosis is sudden or happened after you took out cover, it’s likely you’ll be able to claim for cancelling, delaying or cutting short your trip.

Check the terms of your policy and contact your provider if you’re unsure.

Do I need to declare pre-existing conditions of non-travelling family members?

No, your insurer will just need to know about the medical conditions of the people listed on your policy.

But if a close family member becomes ill or dies and you need to make a claim, your insurer will look into whether this was due to a pre-existing condition.

If it’s discovered their death was due to an illness they had when you took out cover, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to claim for any costs if you decide to cancel your trip.

So the earlier you take out travel insurance the more protection your cover will give you.

Is my family covered if one of us falls ill on holiday?

If one of your family becomes ill or gets injured while you’re away, your travel insurance policy may cover the costs.

Cancellation and curtailment cover is included with most standard policies - so if you have to cancel or cut your holiday short, it’s likely you’ll be covered.

This can help reimburse you for medical bills, any extra accommodation or reasonable expenses you need, and emergency flights back to the UK.

Will cancellation cover be enough?

Cancellation cover typically pays you a lump sum if you have to cancel your trip due to circumstances beyond your control.

You should look for a policy that pays cancellation and curtailment cover of at least £2,000 or the value of your trip.

Your cover should also include the cost of getting you home if you miss your flight or ferry departure due to an unexpected delay.

But remember there are certain situations you won’t be covered for - for example, if you change your mind about the trip, or you’ve ignored government foreign travel advice.

Does travel insurance cover cancellation due to a family funeral?

If you need to cancel or cut short a trip to attend a family funeral your policy may cover you.

However, you’ll usually only be covered for the death of a close relative and only if the death was unexpected and not due to a condition they had when you bought your policy.

To help you make a successful claim, check the policy carefully to see what is allowed and what the exclusions are.