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Moneybox Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Insurance shock for air travellers
Check what you are covered for before you fly away

People flying abroad this summer should check their insurance carefully in case they fall victim to so-called 'economy class syndrome' or DVT (Deep vein thrombosis).

DVT is thought to kill thousands of air travelers each year.

Cramped seating and dehydration, both common factors when flying, can cause blood clots to start in the legs and travel to the lungs with fatal results.

No travel cover

If the worst should happen surviving relatives might look to their travel insurance policy to pay a death benefit but BBC Money Box has found that no insurers will pay out for a DVT death.

Christine Berry and her 51 year old husband Peter had flown home from Australia and had taken all recommended precautions to help avoid DVT during the flight.

But that still was not enough to prevent Peter dying unexpectedly as soon as he stepped off the plane.

Christine received confirmation that Peter's death was as a result of DVT and approached their travel insurer, Zurich, expecting she would receive a 15,000 pound death benefit payment.

She was told she would get nothing.

Medical condition

Travel insurance policies will only pay if a person is judged to have died as a result of an accident, such as a crash, or where some external factor has caused the death.

DVT is regarded as a medical condition or illness for which insurers need not pay out.

Travel insurers say their insurance is designed primarily to pay to get you home if you fall ill or need treatment abroad, and you should always have other separate insurance to ensure you are adequately covered were you to die.

Farrel Kahn, the founder of the medical research charity, the Aviation Health Institute, believes travel insurers should pay death benefits for DVT deaths.

In another move, families affected by DVT are seeking compensation from the airlines.

A court case this autumn will try to secure payments from the airlines of 500,000 for people who have died from DVT while flying.



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