7 Strange Stories Where Travel Insurance Paid Out

When you’re applying for group or family travel insurance, it is always a good idea to read the fine print before signing anything. Doing so helps you better understand where you are covered and where you are not.
However, there are some events that are simply too strange to be realistically listed down in the fine print. Here are seven of the kookier ones where claims were successfully paid out.

1. Falling Coconuts – A traveller in Sri Lanka was injured due to a coconut falling on her head and was lucky enough to be insured when it happened. This is actually a fairly common problem in the tropical regions, which is why you often see de-nutted coconut trees lining the beaches of resorts and hotels.

2. Buried Treasure – Two well-meaning children in Cornwall took it upon themselves to safeguard the video camera belonging to their parents by burying it in the sand. They unfortunately forgot where they buried it, but the insurers paid out just the same. You may want to expand your family travel insurance to include your gadgets, especially if they’re pricey enough to warrant the extra protection.

3. Rampaging Rodents – One contributor to BusinessBalls.com shared how a client of his broke an arm cycling to work. The reason? A herd of guinea pigs ran him off the road! A local farmer supported his story, telling how his daughter’s guinea pigs escaped and bred to plague-like proportions. You probably won’t get run off the road by guinea pigs, but animals can pose a danger when you’re abroad – large or small.

4. Hungry Rhinos – Speaking of animals, an Australian traveller in Africa volunteered to help out in a local zoo. Unfortunately, the poor man lost a finger when a rhinoceros bit it off completely. It clearly pays not to underestimate animals, whether you’re in the wild or in the confines of a zoo.

5. Fatal Attraction – One young Briton broke his nose while walking into a bus shelter in Athens. He claimed that he was distracted by a group of women in bikinis and, luckily for him, his insurance provider paid out! Sometimes it pays to be honest and straightforward in these cases, although it could be a bit problematic for spouses to use this excuse when it comes to family travel insurance.

6. Best Foot Forward – A traveller in Fiji was trying out spear fishing and in his eagerness, he mistook his own foot for a fish – you can guess what happened afterwards! The provider in this case was gracious enough to cover the accident, which would have been easy to dismiss as a self-inflicted injury if they had been less reputable.

7. No-Show Snow – A woman raring to test out her brand-new skis on the piste filed for a pay-out from her insurance company for a lack of snow when she arrived. Some providers guarantee specific events during the trip, like skiing or horseback riding, so it is worth reviewing the contract to see if you will be covered due to factors beyond your control.

While these stories above sound too strange to happen to you, it is worth noting that they actually happened. You’ll be very grateful for the protection of single or family travel insurance packages if something just as strange happens to you!

Important Aspects to Consider For Family Travel Insurance

Travelling is an extremely personal experience, so is naturally customised from the flight details right down to what kind of food one prefers while abroad. Planning a holiday is imperative if things are to run smoothly and, especially for families who are on a budget, even small details are crucial to its success.

One of the most important components in the planning stage is figuring out what type of family travel insurance you need. While there are myriad options to choose from, this doesn’t automatically make the process easier – on the contrary, it might even cause confusion to some when searching for the right policy. This is why it’s so crucial to ask the right questions, starting with the following.

Do Pregnant Women Get Automatic Coverage?

When it comes to family travel insurance, pregnant women are considered high risk – especially those who are already in their third trimester. But being pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean not being able to travel at all – it just means that you may need to observe more caution. (The rules, of course, vary depending on insurance providers.) If you’ve already purchased an annual family policy, if you’re pregnant you might be able to get at least partial coverage (such as basic medical assistance) in select destinations. However, for a more thorough coverage, it’s still best to update any existing policies and include flight cancellation or, if possible, comprehensive healthcare service abroad in case the baby comes early. Naturally, it might be a little more expensive than normal rates, but given the situation, getting a good policy is imperative.

Can You Cancel or Postpone For Any Reason?

This is one of the first questions that need to be cleared up. Basic family travel insurance may have coverage for flight cancellations due to inclement weather or terrorist threats in the city or country destination; however, there are many more possible reasons why you may need to cancel or at least postpone flights, and these possibilities need to be addressed accordingly. For instance, if a family member (especially a child) suffers a medical emergency on the day of the flight, everybody’s flights would need to be cancelled as well. While perfectly understandable, there are some companies that will not refund the entire cost of the plane tickets. Specifying this possibility before buying your policy could at least ensure a partial refund in the event of cancellations for any reason.

Does Your Policy Include Collision Coverage?

Some people think that travelling to another country means mainly public transport or walking everywhere. This might be true for short trips and relatively short distances between towns in some countries, but when planning a month-long holiday with the entire family, it often makes more sense to rent a car in order to be able to get around conveniently. This is where the collision coverage comes in handy in a family travel insurance policy. However, as much as it offers convenience, driving abroad also has its risks. Getting cover for any vehicular damages due to collision is a great idea, however this needs to be on top of an already existing medical policy covering any injuries sustained.

CHOICE’s New Guide for Family Travel Insurance

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has commissioned not-for-profit organization CHOICE to come up with a comprehensive guide dedicated to single and family travel insurance. It is very useful for anyone that wants to know more about why a good policy is so important and can help decipher the best one to cover their needs. In simple terms, here are some of the more important points of the guide worth noting.

Why Get Single and Family travel insurance?

• You don’t end up a burden to your family and friends.
• Some countries won’t allow you in without a policy.
• You don’t have to worry about things that could go wrong while you’re on holiday.
• Your government won’t pay your bills for you if you’re not insured.

Will Insurers Pay Out?

• The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) shows that around 90% of all claims filed were paid. Of the remaining 10%, many were due to the buyer misunderstanding the extent of the policy.

Questions to Ask Yourself

• Where are you going? Familiarise yourself with and get cover for all the countries you will visit – even the ones you stop over for just one night.
• How long are you going for? One-off policies work best for a limited number of days abroad. Annual multi-trip policies work best for regular travel. Review the length of travel restrictions and get extensions if you travel in the long-term.
• What are you going to do there? Review everything you plan to do on your trip and check with your insurer to see if your planned activities are covered. Be wary of overindulging, as you won’t be covered if alcohol or drug intake is the cause of an adverse event.
• Are you taking any valuables? You may have to pay a higher premium if you want your expensive gadgets to be covered by your policy. Note that baggage left unattended will not be covered by your family travel insurance policy.
• Do you have any medical conditions? Be upfront with all your pre-existing conditions, from allergies to knee replacements, so that you’ll know if your insurer will cover for you or if you need to pay extra for expanded coverage.

Saving Money on Your Policy

• Buy early to get cheaper offers and protect yourself early on from outside events that may force you to cancel your trip.
• Buy online to find discounted single and family travel insurance packages but also to easily compare these packages.
• Haggle, especially since agents are more willing to be flexible with the final price tag thanks to high commissions.
• Check around for special offers due to affiliation with an organisation, like your bank or a health fund.
• Obtain a copy of the policy wording from your bank or credit card provider in order to identify if their “free” insurance packages are enough to protect you.

Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) Before Buying

• The PDS is a broad overview of policy’s clauses on pre-existing conditions, general exclusions, word definitions and claims section.

Review the Excess

• Note that excesses apply once per event and not for the sum total of events. For example, an excess of £500 will not cover three events costing £200 each. You’ll have to pay for these events out of your own pocket

Making a Complaint

• If you believe your provider is trying to skip out of their responsibility, start by approaching their internal dispute resolution centre. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, seek external dispute resolution through a government consumer protection agency – aka the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If you are not satisfied with the consumer protection agency’s ruling, escalate further by taking legal action through the courts.