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When does travel insurance cover swine flu?

australia-swine-flu1According to reports published by U.S. Travel Insurance Association only about 30% of Americans who travel abroad buy travel insurance. And that number has actually been growing during the past years due to natural disasters – such as earthquakes, hurricanes – and terrorism. But the outbreak of swine flu all over the world raised the popularity of travel medical insurance . Insurance companies recently reported up to 300% increase in their bookings. And apparently travelers are less willing to take any risks and prefer to have some sense of security.

Will my travel insurance cover swine flu?

It is hard to say. If you buy “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage then, yes, you should be covered. However, if you bough the travel medical insurance after April 24, 2009 – when the swine flu outbreak became known all over the world – read it carefully. Some policies exclude epidemics and pandemics.

If you plan to visit Australia make sure to purchase your travel medical insurance right after you’ve booked one of the cheap flights to Australia . Do remember to read the conditions and look for exclusion and pre-existing conditions before you purchase the policy. Many insurance companies already announced that they won’t cover any swine flu-related claims for policies purchased on or after April 24, 2009.

Got my plane ticket but I came down with swine flu. Will I get my money back?

So you are the happy owner of a plane ticket to Australia purchased after searching for flights to Sydney for a long time. Or you happened to find some incredible prices for flights to Melbourne and you’ve already packed your bags. But, unfortunately, you’ve got some bad news. You are sick: swine flu!

What can you do? According to common practice, just like in the case of any other illness, if you were diagnosed with swine flu before you left, you should be covered for cancellation. File your claim in written form (letter, fax, e-mail) and make sure to read the policy’s terms so that you know what you are entitled to.

They told me at the airport that I’ve got swine flu. Can I rearrange my travel plans?

Since swine flu should be viewed as any other illness – in case it’s not excluded by the insurance company –, if you are not fit to travel and you are told that at the airport, your policy should cover the price of rearranging the transport and hotel. However, make sure to ask the airline’s medical adviser for an assessment of you health situation in order to request the insurance company to help.

Can I cancel my trip and get my money back because I’m worried?

You can cancel your trip because you are worried about traveling during a pandemic. But it depends on your insurance policy if you actually get any money back. Unless you purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage many insurance companies won’t give you any money back if you cancel for such a reason. Even if the airline won’t fly into a swine flu area, the insurance company might not cover the costs.

So make sure to ask several insurance companies about their policies regarding swine flu and opt for the best possible coverage. If things don’t go as planned at least you will know your rights.

Photo credit: Hyacinthe Raimbault on Flickr