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AFCA rules against mother who rushed home for baby formula

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A traveller who changed her return flight so she could get specialist formula for her baby and subsequently made an unsuccessful insurance claim for travel losses, has lost her bid for compensation.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) upheld the decision of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company to deny the claim, ruling the costs she had incurred fell outside the list of emergency expenses as defined in her travel policy.

A copy of the policy’s section on additional expenses attached to the AFCA ruling shows the insurer will cover for travel disruptions related to the unexpected death of travelling companions, lost or stolen passports, serious damage to homes in Australia, among others.

“I have reviewed the complainant’s policy,” AFCA said in the ruling. “Whilst I appreciate the complainant’s position and necessity to return home early, the circumstances do not fit within cover under the policy.

“The complainant has therefore failed to establish a valid claim for the costs incurred.”

The woman and her family had been booked to return to Melbourne on September 18 last year but on arrival at the airport, they were told the flight had been cancelled because of certain cabin crew requirements.

As they had to wait another 24 hours for the next flight home, the woman decided to cancel her original booking and bought new tickets instead of waiting out the delay. She says her nine-month old baby was on specialist formula that could only be purchased in Australia.

She also says the formula powder she had with her at the airport was contaminated, which meant she had no choice but to return home as early as possible.

The insurer had rejected her claim, saying she had not established a valid claim for the costs under the policy.

The complainant says other groups travelling on the same flight were paid their claims by the same insurer and saw no reason why her claim should be rejected.

AFCA says it cannot compel an insurer to make an ex-gratia offer.

Click here for the ruling.