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Swine Flu and travel insurance QA

Published: 10/04/09 Topics: Comments: -

I found a really good article about Swine flu and travel insurance...we don't offer travel insurance at this time for our homes but it's something we might consider in the future.

Is swine flu covered by travel insurance? www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2009-10-01-swine-flu-travel->

When CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta came down with H1N1, or swine flu, in Afghanistan last month, he blogged about being "the sickest I've ever been." And with the federal Centers for Disease Control reporting that a second wave of the flu is spreading widely across the nation, USA TODAY's Laura Bly answers questions on whether travel insurance covers H1N1.

Q: What is a typical travel insurance policy cost, and what are the major coverage areas?
A: Most travel insurance packages cost 4% to 8% of a journey's total value and encompass trip cancellation/interruption refunds plus medical care and evacuation.
Q: I'm not sick now, but I'm worried about getting the flu at my destination. If I have insurance, can I cancel before I leave and get my money back?
A: Not unless you've purchased "cancel for any reason" coverage, which is sold as an add-on to existing policies or as a stand-alone waiver by cruise lines and other travel companies. A "cancel for any reason" upgrade is more expensive (40%-50% higher than a basic policy), typically covers 70%-100% of prepaid trip costs (all of which must be insured), and requires trip cancellation at least two days before departure, says Peter Evans of the insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip.com.
Q: Does the World Health Organization June declaration of H1N1 as an official pandemic void the terms of my travel insurance policy?
A: In most cases, no. But a few companies do have pandemic exclusions that would keep you from collecting if you get the flu before you leave or during your trip, says Chris Harvey of Squaremouth.com, another travel insurance comparison site.
Q: Assuming pandemics aren't excluded, will I be covered if I'm quarantined at my destination and have to skip part or all of my itinerary?
A: Generally, yes. But you'll have to study the fine print. Some carriers, including Travel Guard and Access America, will reimburse costs associated with a quarantine — but only if you are sick, not if you are a part of a larger group detained because of possible exposure to an infected traveler.
Q: If I catch the flu and can't travel, will insurance cover the cost of medical care, additional hotel nights and airline penalties?
A: In many cases, yes. Access America, for example, covers emergency medical costs, "reasonable" lodging and other out-of-pocket expenses, and transportation costs associated with getting you back home. But you'll need a doctor's verification of your illness, and no policies will cover you for lost work days if you're forced to extend your stay because of illness.
Q: So, do I really need insurance if my main concern is catching swine flu?
A: Perhaps not. Gupta's high-profile example notwithstanding, most cases of H1N1 flu have been mild and a vaccine is expected to be widely available by the end of the year, though it takes up to two weeks to become fully effective. Some airlines will waive change fees for passengers with a doctor's documentation that they are unable to fly.

10/04/09

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