What Happens If You Lose Someone Abroad?

20/01/2017 13:07 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 13:07 GMT

In August 2015, I came across a link to a JustGiving page on my Facebook newsfeed - an old school friend was trying to raise money for the family of a friend who had passed away while travelling in Australia. It turns out there are extraordinary costs associated when someone passes away in foreign country, from hospital bills, to plane tickets, to the cost of repatriating the body, and the burden of these costs falls to the family if the individual did not have comprehensive travel insurance. This means that a family going through emotional turmoil has the additional stress of organising finances to worry about.

Before August I knew of pages like JustGiving and GoFundMe, but never thought they'd be used for causes like these - it just never crossed my mind. When you peruse the front pages of these websites you see fundraising campaigns for life-saving cancer treatments, or helping those who've been the victim of a crime. Some causes exceed their goal, while others never even get close - it's all dependent on the generosity of individuals, and whether or not they believe in your cause.

Since 2015, I've seen two other crowdfunding pages for loved ones who have died abroad cross my Facebook newsfeed, and all three times they have achieved their goals, and helped out the families in the most devastating of times. But what if they hadn't reached their goals? Then the families would've had to pick up the pieces. There is always the worry with crowdfunding that your fundraising goal won't be reached, after all you cannot force people to donate to your fund. The majority of crowdfunding campaigns focus on emergency or unforeseen events - no one thinks that they'd better start saving now in case they need an expensive life-saving medical treatment in the future.

While no one goes travelling assuming that they will get in an accident as it's a rather distressing and morbid thought to have, a little pre-planning could help friends and family if the worst did happen. Travelling is supposed to be a fun and exciting time, filled with new experiences, but as it can be quite expensive people tend to cut corners where possible. This tends to concern travel insurance. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggest that individuals should purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers them in all the countries they will be visiting, and in the case of an emergency, death or disability. I've never gone travelling without comprehensive travel insurance, but some people prefer to risk it and travel without any insurance. Sure, this risk could mean that you have more money to spend on exciting activities, but in the case of an emergency, you won't be covered. If the worst happened and you did pass away while travelling (a morbid thought, but possible) having comprehensive travel insurance would bring some peace of mind to your family. On the second JustGiving page that came across my newsfeed, the family wrote that they wish their daughter had bought travel insurance as it would have eased their burden in this time of grief. If the crowdfunding hadn't been successful then they would have had to fork out the money.

So, a little pre-planning before embarking on your travels could possibly be an immense help. It doesn't take long to get comprehensive travel insurance, and yes, it may mean you have slightly less money to spend, but it could be a big help. Even if you just had a minor accident, or something was stolen, comprehensive travel insurance gives you peace of mind and eases the financial burden.

Click here to find out more information from The Foreign and Commonwealth Office about travel insurance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance