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Travel insurance & family emergencies 101

It's only natural to be concerned about your loved ones when you go away on your holidays.

If a family member or travelling companion falls ill or is injured on your trip, or before you depart for your holiday, it's important to know where you stand with your cover.

A common question that comes up again and again is; Does travel insurance cover family emergencies? The answer is yes, but like all insurances there are exclusions that will affect your claim.

Keep reading to learn about the cover conditions when it comes to travel insurance and family members.

What is classed as ‘Family’?

You may consider friends or pets as family, however when it comes to travel insurance it's a little different. Those considered 'family' in the world of cover relate to your spouse (or legally recognised defacto) and your dependants.

What is classed as a ‘Relative’?

'Relatives' in terms of travel insurance will typically only include: You or your travelling companions spouse, defacto partner, parent, parent-in-law, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, step-parent, step-son, step-daughter, fiancé, fiancée or guardian.

NOTE: Typically aunties, uncles, cousins, close friends are not included as a ‘relative’ under a standard policy.

When does travel insurance cover for family emergencies?

Your policy will kick in if a family member or relative (as defined above);

  • Dies unexpectedly
  • Is disabled by an injury
  • Becomes seriously sick and requires hospitalisation

When are you not covered for family emergencies?

Like any type of insurance terms and conditions apply to your cover.

Where your relative lives matters: Relatives who live outside Australia or New Zealand are typically not covered by your policy. Most insurers state that they will only pay claims concerning ‘Relatives’ who reside in Australia or New Zealand. If you have a family member that lives in a different country to you, chances are you wouldn’t be covered for cancelling your trip. 
Pre-existing illnesses can cause difficulties: If you were already aware of a Relative’s illness when you booked your travel insurance, it’s doubtful that you’d be covered should they take a turn for the worse. However, some companies like 1Cover, Simply Travel Insurance and Zoom Travel Insurance would cover if you were not aware of the condition, or likelihood of such hospitalisation or death.

How the family member dies matters: If the death was due to the relative committing suicide, or related to alcohol or drug consumption you may find that isn't covered.  Any claims to do with alcohol, drugs or mental illess are typicallyexcluded in Australian travel insurance policies. 

Age limits apply: For example insurers such as 1Cover, Columbus Direct, Virgin Money and Zoom will not cover for any benefits for Relatives who are 85 years or older. This means even if a Relative has an unforeseen accident or illness, not relating to a pre-existing illness, travellers would not be covered for any events involving those who are older than the specified age limit.

Compare family member age limits

As mentioned above, in many policies there are age restrictions concerning family members and when you'd be covered for claiming. For example, if you had a policy with 1300 Insurance and your grandmother suddenly became ill while you were overseas and you wanted to return home quickly. If your grandmother was over 84 years of age you would not have provision to claim. 

It pays to do your research, as there are insurers in the market who do not pose age restrictions, you just have to do a bit of digging to find them....



1300 Insurance 84 and under
1Cover 84 and under
AAMI No limit
AIG No limit

84 and under

American Express No limit
Australia Post No limit
Australia Seniors 80 and under
Boomers 84 and under
Budget Direct No limit
Bupa No limit
Columbus Direct 84 and under
Comminsure 84 and under
Covermore No limit
Dowunder travel insurance 84 and under
Easy Travel Insurance No limit
Fast Cover 84 and under
Go Insurance 84 and under
Insure4Less 84 and under
InsureandGo No limit
itrek 84 and under
Kango Cover 84 and under
Medibank No limit
Multi-trip No limit
NoWorries 84 and under
NRMA No limit
Online Travel Insurance 84 and under
OnTour No limit
Priceline No limit
QBE No limit
Southern Cross No limit
Simply Travel Insurance 84 and under
STA No limit
Suresave No limit
Tick No limit
TID No limit
Travel Insurance Saver 80 and under
Travel Insuranz 84 and under
Virgin Money 84 and under
Webjet 84 and under
Woolworths 84 and under
World Nomads     No limit    

Other options

As mentioned, the majority of insurers would not cover family emergencies if the relative in question suffered from a pre-existing medical condition. However, specialist insurer AllClear may cover you provided that your relative’s doctor is prepared to state that at the date you booked your trip, he/she would have seen no substantial likelihood that his/her patient’s condition would deteriorate to such a degree that you would need to cancel or curtail your journey.


Need some help? Use the search box below to find answers to all those tricky travel insurance questions. We’ve got heaps of travel insurance tips to help you get the best policy for your upcoming holiday!


Ask Eugene travel insurance geek extraordinaire anything

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