Strict policy wording

Akio had planned to take a trip to Japan in late 2018 to visit his father. A month before the planned visit, Akio’s father became very ill. Akio travelled to Japan immediately to take care of his father.

As Akio was already in Japan, he cancelled his later flights and claimed a refund from his insurer. In his policy there was a provision which required the insurer to compensate the cost of any travel cancelled due to the serious illness of a relative of the insured.

The insurer declined the claim as the term ‘relative’ was defined in the policy as a close relative, who resided in New Zealand. As Akio’s father resided in Japan, he did not come within the definition of ’relative’ in the policy.

Akio complained to FSCL.

 

Dispute

Akio felt that his claim had been unreasonably declined. He said that it was unfair to exclude his father as a close relative, just because his father lived in Japan. Akio said his insurance should cover these types of unforeseen events.

The insurer said that the policy wording was clear. It excluded all close relatives who do not reside in New Zealand.

 

Review

After reviewing the complaint, we found that the insurer had correctly applied the policy in declining Akio’s claim. The policy clearly only covered loss arising from serious illness of relatives residing in NZ.

 

Resolution

The insurer agreed with our findings. Akio chose to discontinue his complaint.

 

Insights for consumers

It is important for consumers to read and understand their policies and to contact their insurer in the first instance, before cancelling their travel arrangements. In travel insurance policies, the term ‘’relative’’ is usually defined to mean relatives living in New Zealand or Australia only.

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