“Dead passenger” case highlights need for knowledge

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“Dead passenger” case highlights need for knowledge

8th April 2010

The case of two women caught trying to smuggle their dead relative onto a plane this week served as a stark reminder that most of us wouldn't know what to do if the worst happened while we were on holiday.

Travel and holiday claim specialist Katherine Allen said that although trying to persuade airline staff that a deceased companion was "just asleep" was clearly not the best way to tackle the situation, many people have no idea what the proper course of action is.

"Dealing with the death of a friend or a loved one is never easy, even at the best of times," said Katherine, an associate with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "But if the death happens unexpectedly while travelling abroad, dealing with all the relevant bureaucracy can make it even more difficult."

With over 60 million foreign trips made annually by British nationals, the number of deaths is actually a mere fraction - three thousandths of one per cent - with around 2,000 deaths reported to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office each year.

"Experts estimate that a third of these deaths are due to natural causes, while the rest are a direct result of accidents or criminal acts," said Katherine. "It's important that people know what to do, should the very worst happen."

Katherine said there are a number of practical points to remember in the unlikely event of a tragedy while holidaying or travelling abroad:

*Ensure that you obtain travel insurance before you travel and make sure your travel insurance policy includes adequate repatriation cover in case of death in another country

*If you are on a package holiday, contact your tour operator immediately and let them do as much as possible on your behalf

*If you are not on a package holiday, contact the British Consulate in the country you are staying in for assistance

*Never sign anything until you are entirely clear what it means, especially anything that is written in a foreign language

*Ensure you regularly contact the insurance company - the insurer will employ a foreign funeral director to deal with immediate needs on your behalf

*Contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their comprehensive booklet Guide for bereaved families

"If the insurance of the deceased does not cover their repatriation, then make sure you contact a reputable agency," said Katherine. "There are a number of specialists who can help manage the process for you. The bureaucracy involved in arranging everything yourself has the potential to be overwhelming, and using an agency will help to reduce the stress at an already difficult time."

Katherine also recommended reading the advice on the consumer help website Which?

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to holiday and travel accidents.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - Sky News