Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lifestyle: Travel Insurance - when the unthinkable happens while on vacation

Travel Insurance - when the unthinkable happens while on vacation: A tragic story

The widow saved her money to go on her dream vacation: a tour to the Holy Land. She booked her excursion trip and was really excited. Upon arriving at the hotel, jet lagged and tired, she decided to take a nice, warm shower to relax before going to bed. When she turned on the shower, a fast and heavy jet of very hot water hit her on the chest, prompting her to slip and fall inside the bathtub. She couldn't get up fast enough, and the boiling water splashed furiously on her naked body, cruelly burning her skin. When she was finally able to stop the water, she had severe burns on 70% of her body. She was eventually taken to a hospital in a country where she didn't know anyone, didn't speak the language, and was alone. When her family was notified of the tragic accident, her son flew in immediately to be at her bedside. A day later, she died of severe burn complications. Her son, lost and desolate, had to go back home alone, accompanied by the coffin  holding the mortal remains of his beloved mother. A shattered dream, a tragic event.

Having worked in travel assistance for years, this was one of the situations I never forgot. How awful for someone to die during what is supposed to be the best time of their lives, on a dream vacation? That lady had travel insurance. The son's ticket was paid for by the travel insurance, as well as the repatriation of her remains back to her country of origin. This is something you don't want to think about when booking the trip of your dreams. But unexpected and unthinkable events unfortunately occur. When purchasing travel insurance, make sure there is a hefty benefit for repatriation of mortal remains, just to be on the safe side.

What do you need to know if you or a family member suffers death while traveling abroad?

- Contact the local Embassy or Consulate immediately to report the death. The Embassy will need to issue paperwork for the remains of the deceased citizen to be shipped, and can assist with any needed investigation, body recognition, and/or referrals for an international shipping funeral agency;

 - Contact a local funeral agency (usually referred by the Embassy) - they will make arrangements for the remains to be shipped internationally, according to international standards of cargo shipping for the airlines - if the Embassy doesn't make referrals, ask the hospital case manager, or search online for an international shipping company;

- Establish a receiving funeral home at the city and country where the remains will be shipped to - the receiving funeral home will need to be in touch with the local funeral home to know when the remains will be flying and when to pick it up upon arrival at the airport;

 - Collect all personal belongings and documents from the deceased. Documents will be needed by the Embassy to issue death certificates;

- Expect the process to last at least one week. Depending on the country where the incident happened, it may take even longer. Cremation can be chosen instead of a regular shipping of mortal remains; however some countries do not have cremation facilities. Due to religious concerns and holidays, Embassies, mortuaries, and other government agencies may be closed, delaying the process. Some countries demand autopsies to be performed before embalming and preparing the remains for shipment;

- Prepare to pay a minimum of $10,000.00 for international shipment of mortal remains. This doesn't include any services at the receiving end: charges usually include embalming, container, ground transportation to/from mortuary to airport and flight transportation up to receiving airport.

Viewing, flowers, funeral services, religious services are rarely included in the repatriation of remains benefit.

If you have repatriation of mortal remains benefit included in your travel insurance, be sure this incident is a covered event. Look at the fine print to find out if the repatriation of remains benefit covers for accident and/or sickness. Some policies may only cover for accidents, and may not cover what may be considered as "natural cause" death or pre-existing conditions. You will still need to cover the costs for funeral services, viewing or anything else not covered in the transportation of the remains.
It is not a pleasant experience, and it will not be a quick process, but you need to be patient during this time of suffering and pain. Just be prepared for the unthinkable. You don't want to be caught off guard if something this tragic happens to you or your loved ones.


  1. Excellent and informative post to help people if the unthinkable happens. I shared this, Andrea. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page  Trip insurance Protect Travel is a travel insurance company. Get your Travel Insurance with Protect Travel and Never leave your home without a Travel Insurance, get yourself Insured Now!

  3. Excellent blog… I think, it might be extremely foolish to journey in another country without travel insurance. There are many number of circumstances which could happen, no matter how brief your stay, where insurance policy would save the night…

    1. Thank you! Yes, having worked in this business for several years, I can tell how important it is to have a good travel policy, especially when going out of the country!

  4. This blog post really resonated with me because I encountered a similar situation only last year. A buddy of mine unfortunately passed away whilst we were surfing in Bali. I called his family and we didn't really know what to do about it. This post is extremely informative and would've helped a great deal in guiding us had we read it before my friend's unfortunate accident.

    Clifton Johnson @ Insuring The Product

  5. I'm sorry you encountered such a sad situation during your trip. Thanks for your note and take care!