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Canceling Due to Imminent Death: Travel Insurance Limbo.

I have been over the last few months asking many questions about an upcoming trip to Tuscany and Venice. I was headed out this Wednesday, but I won't be going because my mother-in-law is expected to die in the next 24 hours to ten days.

It's travel insurance limbo. I can't leave because I need to be with my husband. But there is no death of family member coverage because she is alive. There is no illness of family member coverage because although she was expected to live another couple years, this is a pre-existing condition.

I spent an hour today canceling our hotels, apartments, proformances, advance ticketsand tour guides. Much of it could be canceled free. When canceling tours and hotels that are past the free cancelation period I
I explained the circumstances. About a third just refunded the money; about a third said they would refund if they got a replacement booking, the other third haven't responded yet. People are good. Only a couple tickets are really lost. Italian train tickets are really lost, but they are awfully cheap anyway.

Tomorrow I will try KLM. My pitch will be to ask for voucher dollars rather than a refund. Or to convert the trip which would really have been flown by Delta, to tickets to South Carolina for the funeral instead. I'm mildly optimist. But as our tickets were about $500 each, pretty sanguine about the results. Any negotiating advice would be appreciated.

Mostly though I want to both point out thearly limits of travel insurance and the surprising good will of hotel and apartment renters.

Posted by
1705 posts

We had an unfortunately similar situation early this year. We asked Hawaiian if they could help as we had to cancel a trip that was a week out. There is no proof of anything to offer when a family member is about to pass away. I supposed we could have tried to get a medical record from the ICU but really...there was no way we were going to ask. I sent Hawaiian a link to the blog that was detailing the situation. They waived all fees and rebooked our flights for later this year.

I was very pleased and grateful for their response.

Posted by
5435 posts

So sorry about your situation. I'm glad that several establishments have been gracious and hope for good luck with you with KLM. And so sorry about your mother-in-law.

Posted by
362 posts

I am so sorry to hear of your imminent loss.

As far as Delta goes, they do have bereavement fares. If you are willing to share the hospital's name with them when you call them, they may be able to do something for you. I do not know if they check on these things, but I have read in other travel forums that they do ask for the information.

Again, I am so very sorry for your what you are going through.

Posted by
875 posts

I had to cancel an imminent Delta flight roundtrip to Italy several weeks ago because of unplanned, unexpected surgery. The tickets were lowest fare possible, with purchased Economy Plus upgrade seats. I had an amazing response from Delta when I went on-line, canceled the tickets, and had a "tab" option of requesting a refund. I briefly described the reason for my requested refund-or-credit in the comments box. Wonderfully, several days later I received an email stating that my request was being processed, and then lo' and behold, all amounts were credited back to my credit card. I did not expect any refunds, given the fare class that I had purchased, and am very grateful to Delta for the refund. I wonder if you could go on the Delta (not KLM) website to ask for a refund or credit voucher? Good luck with the request, and much sympathy to you and your husband at this difficult and sad time.

Posted by
104 posts

Hope all works out for you. Such a sad situation. Two years ago I had scheduled a Delta flight to California to stay with my grandchildren. . A few days before I was to leave we were told my sister (who had a bad case of cancer) was probably not going to make the next 24 hrs, she lingered for 9 days. I had to change my flights and Delta waived all fees.

Posted by
844 posts

Some years ago my Dad died suddenly, thankfully I was there visiting. I called American (the only airline to fly into my small hometown in Louisiana at the time) and talked to them about getting tickets for my husband and 2 teenagers. The agent told me about the bereavement fare. He did ask what the name of the hospital and Dr. that treated Daddy when he died. No problem, bereavement fare and it saved us a lot!
Hope they still have that policy for you when you need it. The Dr. told me later that he checked with his staff and no one had checked with them to see if it was true. I hope no one stiffs them on these fares so that they don't discontinue them.

It sounds like many people have given you cancellations on tours and accommodations and I think that's great.

My best thoughts to your husband and yourself and family.

Posted by
645 posts

So I have the KLM verdict. I could have either a 50% cash refund or full value vouchers for flights on Delta, KLM, or Air France. I took the vouchers. My in-laws live in Greenville, SC which is Delta country. We will use the vouchers to fly there sometime this week.

In the end the travel insurance was of no value but almost everyone refunded our money anyway. We are out just under $200 for a cancelled three week trip to Tuscany and Venice. Some things were cancelable as a matter of right such as car rental, three hotels, and an opera in Venice. All three of our apartment landlords and Walks of Italy tours refunded our money out of kindness. Only our trains and The Scrovegni Chapel will not issue a refund.

I feel rather pleased with people in general.

Posted by
645 posts

One disconcerting thing, most companies continue to send event reminders even after things have been canceled and refunded. Some warn you of this, most don't.

Posted by
840 posts

I lost my dad two years ago right before I was scheduled to take a vacation. No airfare involved, but I had car ferry tickets and reservations at a old, non-chain hotel. In both cases they offered a credit good for a year. I would have preferred a returned hotel deposit, but my arrival date was only a few days out. In the end, I was thankful that they at least gave me a credit and everyone was sympathetic on the phone.

Posted by
362 posts

Dear Jen,

I'm so glad to hear that so many people were willing to acknowledge your situation and work with you. I wish all the best for you and your family during this very difficult time. (Is it wrong to offer a hug online? I hope not, because I am sending one to you now.)

Posted by
6801 posts

Dear Jen,
My thoughts are with you. Thank you for taking the time to share with the community and let others see how compassionate the landlords and companies have been. Sorry this is happening to you.

Posted by
645 posts

Aquamarinesteph, hugs on line are sweet, and thank you.
Thank you to everyone who responded to this thread.

Posted by
54 posts

Jen - I am so sorry to hear of your family situation and wish you all the best. I understand that you're out only about $200 and it might not be worth the effort to make a claim on your travel insurance, but I think this situation would be covered by many policies. When I bought travel insurance while our fathers were still alive and in precarious health, I discussed their situations with the agent and confirmed that for the policies we were buying, the pre-existing condition exclusion did not apply to family members not traveling with the insured. Both times I was assured that a sudden worsening of their conditions would be a covered situation. We never actually had to use those policies, so I don't know what would have actually happened if we had filed a claim, but I certainly would have tried. It's my understanding that you still would have had to go through the entire cancellation process to mitigate your losses before filing the claim, so you would not have been able to get back more than the $200 in any case.

Posted by
4689 posts

There's a saying, that "Most insurance is sold, not bought." But in fact, if you shop for a product that is precisely what you need, you may be able to find it. Of course, protection from more risks generally costs ... more.

Here is the first clause of a cancellation policy from a Travelex policy I've often bought:

  1. Sickness, Injury or death of you or your Traveling Companion and/or you or your Traveling Companion’s Family Member or Business Partner. The Sickness must commence while coverage is in effect, require the examination of a Physician, in person, at the time of Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption and, in the written opinion of the treating Physician, be so disabling as to prevent you from taking or continuing your Covered Trip.

Note that hospitalization is not mentioned. Now, there are lots of details to consider, like whether you bought in "time" to get Pre-existing conditions covered ... but I was once told by Travelex that they only care about pre-existing conditions of the TRAVELERS - not of elderly parents. Of course, every company is different, and every level of coverage is different. But how many people actually READ the policy before they buy it?