Cancellation insurance does not always pay

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Verdict: Travel cancellation insurance only pays for unexpected illnesses.

(14.09.2010) Travel cancellation insurance only has to cover the costs of non-commencement of the trip in the event of unexpected illnesses of the insured. According to the current case law of the Munich Local Court, illness is not unexpected if the policyholder is aware of facts that make the occurrence of an illness likely to appear. In this case, the travel cancellation insurance is not obliged to pay.

The plaintiff in the Munich District Court trial had booked a short trip to the United States for his daughter, son-in-law, wife and himself in early January 2009, which was to take place in February 2009. At the same time, he had taken out travel cancellation insurance in the event that his family could not start the trip. In 2008, however, his wife was diagnosed with a herniated disc and treated in hospital. With temporary success. At the beginning of 2009, his wife was completely free of symptoms at times and even went on a skiing vacation. Nevertheless, the pain suddenly reappeared shortly before departure and the family was unable to take the short break booked. As a result, the plaintiff incurred costs of € 1,910.00, which the travel cancellation insurance did not want to assume, since the plaintiff was aware of the risk of illness before booking the trip.

The family man now tried to make a legal claim before the Munich District Court in order to still get money from the insurance. However, the district court ruled in the current proceedings that the argumentation of the insurance company should be followed, since the plaintiff was not only aware of the likelihood of a new herniated disc, but that his wife was still in pain at the time of the booking. The symptom-free phases had given no reason to suspect that his wife would no longer suffer from acute intervertebral disc complaints in the future. The view of an average policyholder is fundamental to assessing whether an illness occurs unexpectedly. The ongoing pain and intensive treatment in connection with the already known diagnosis should have been a clear indication of the possible deterioration in health, even for medical laypersons like the wife. The disease was therefore to be expected. Therefore, the insurance company is not obliged to pay, the local court judged. In general, according to the judgment of the judge responsible, basic illnesses that run in fluctuations or relapses and in which acute phases must be reckoned with are not to be assessed as unexpected. (fp)

Image: Bernd Wachtmeister /
(Reference: Munich District Court, judgment: File number: 242 C 29669/09)

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