Does travel insurance cover jury duty?


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It’s one of those unavoidable situations in life which are sent to test us. A bit like losing a job, breaking up with someone or attempting to explain the story of the birds and the bees to your children. Unfortunately – and however challenging it seems – failure isn’t an option. Or rather, there’s no escaping the situation or shirking the duty which has befallen you.

We’re referring to being called up for jury duty of course, which many of us are at various points in our lives. The thing is there are a few select ways of extricating yourself from the invite, including if you have already spent time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, are a serving member of the armed forces, unable to understand English or suffering from a mental disorder. Otherwise you just have to lump it and get on with it.

What we want to know though is whether or not your travel insurance policy covers you for jury duty if you’re summoned to attend court during the period you’ve already pre-booked (and paid) your holiday for.

Twelve good men and/or women and true is an excellent concept embedded in English law, and it’s vitally important that the community at large does its best to understand the significance of it and does its utmost to support it.

The Ministry of Justice is quick to point out that; “The Jury Service is one of the most important civic duties that anyone can be asked to perform. It has served us well for hundreds of years and continues to deliver justice across the country every day.”

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That’s as maybe, yet for many the spectre of receiving and opening a brown envelope comprising a summons to jury can make them pretty anxious. Every year some 170,000 plus people’s attendance is sought to sit on a jury to help determine the outcomes of a plethora of criminal cases. Which is all well and good, but what if your call clashes with something pre-arranged like, for instance, an expensive holiday in a far-off land which has been booked and looked forward to for as long as you can remember. You naturally wish to uphold your civic duty and attend, but you also want to know that you won’t lose out, financially, by postponing/rescheduling your holiday.

Well the good news is travel insurance DOES cover jury duty, as it comes under the heading of ‘unforeseen circumstances’ (or alternatively, a ‘covered reason’), therein triggering the clause which allows the policyholder to be compensated.

Typically anything deemed as ‘unforeseen circumstances’ physically prevent the policyholder from taking the pre-arranged/paid for trip and includes things like injury, illness, being suddenly made redundant, a vehicle theft or house break-in amongst a few, carefully defined others, all of which are what’s known in the insurance industry as ‘evidence-based’.

The key factor is timing as far as the travel insurance provider is concerned, in as much as proving beyond reasonable doubt that you had no previous knowledge that jury service would be impending at the juncture when you booked your holiday and/or took out your insurance policy. If everything was in order in this respect then there’s no feasible reason why the policyholder wouldn’t be able to claim on their plan and look to receive compensation as per their individual policy framework.

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Suffice to say that if you only purchased the travel insurance package AFTER you received official notification of your forthcoming jury service duty then you would be automatically refused to submit a claim on these grounds and therefore wouldn’t be entitled to any form of compensation, understandably.

However – and what many people (holidaymakers or otherwise) might not know, is – it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s always the option of deferring the attending of jury service here in the UK in special circumstances, and providing certain criteria is fulfilled. In addition to having a medical operation scheduled or an academic examination pending at the proposed time of your jury service, the same rule generally applies to holidays which are proven to be pre-booked/pre-paid; thus allowing deferral of your duties to another time. This way you don’t necessarily have to re-arrange your holiday if it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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