Does travel insurance cover a death in the family?

Here’s what you need to know if a bereavement means a trip is cancelled or cut short.

Here’s what you need to know if a bereavement means a trip is cancelled or cut short.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Last Updated
10 JUNE 2022
4 min read
Share article

Travel insurance and bereavement

It’s rarely at the top of the list of priorities when you lose someone, but it’s good to know that most travel insurance policies include cancellation cover should the worst happen just as you were due to go away.

Cancellation cover is a standard feature of travel insurance, designed to reimburse the cost of your holiday if you have to cancel because of circumstances beyond your control, such as illness or injury, being called to jury service or bereavement.

If you need to cancel your trip after the death of someone close to you, look for the details of what’s covered by your travel policy (in a section called key features). The death, or serious illness, of a ‘close relative’, someone you were travelling with or a close business colleague might count as a valid reason for cancellation.

You may also be covered if you cancel because a relative or friend living abroad who you’d planned to stay with during your trip has passed away.

A sudden death is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to take out travel insurance as soon as you book your trip, so that you’re covered immediately against unexpected events. Always make sure your cancellation cover is high enough to meet the full cost of your trip (including flights, accommodation and tours you’ve pre-booked).

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean any claim you make is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

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

The cover provided for bereavement won’t pay out if your relative died from a condition (including a pre-existing medical condition) or circumstances that were known to you before you bought the policy or when you booked your trip, if that condition was likely to lead to you having to cut short or cancel your trip. This applies to those travelling with you, non-travelling family members or any family you were planning on staying with abroad.

The definition of what constitutes a ‘close’ relation differs among providers. Some policies will include cousins and brothers- or sisters-in-law, while others won’t. Some providers may specify that partners must have been living at the same address as you for a set period – for example, six months – to qualify.

Friends or pets won’t be covered, although some policies make an exception for guide dogs. It’s also worth noting that most policies won’t cover the bereavement if the death was a result of suicide.

What if a bereavement happens while I’m on my holiday?

If a member of your family who is with you on your trip dies, then repatriation cover may be able to support you.

Travel insurance will usually cover the cost of bringing home the body or ashes, and will pay up to an amount set out in the policy for funeral expenses for a burial or cremation abroad.

You might not be covered for the death of a travel companion or family member on your trip who didn’t get the recommended vaccinations for the area you’re travelling to.

Coping with a death abroad can be an understandably confusing and distressing situation. Our guide to repatriation might help if you face this situation.

You can also get more help from GOV.UK for dealing with a death abroad.

If a relative back home dies while you’re away and you need to cut short your trip, you’ll typically be covered for:

  • travel and accommodation expenses that you’ve paid for and aren’t recoverable from the supplier
  • the cost of excursions and tours you’ve paid for and can’t get your money back on
  • reasonable additional travel costs to get back to the UK.

If you make a claim, your insurance provider is likely to ask for evidence that might include:

  • receipts, tickets and invoices that show your travel costs and expenses
  • the death certificate – some providers will accept certified copies while others will need originals.

If you need to rebook tickets to come home, it’s always a good idea to talk to your provider beforehand. Some will want to make any travel arrangements themselves on your behalf.

What happens if I die while I am on holiday?

It’s a good idea share a copy of your insurance policy with your nearest and dearest before you go – just in case the worst happens. This will make it easier for them to contact your insurance provider and put the necessary arrangements in place.

Insurance providers typically have 24-hour helplines to give your family assistance. Just remember you’ll need to have declared all pre-existing conditions for them to be able to claim.

Compare travel insurance

Tell us what you need and we’ll compare travel insurance deals that ensure you get the right level of cover before your trip.

Looking for a quote?

Get a new travel insurance quote in minutes to see if you can save.

Get a quote