Travel insurance – am I covered for swine flu?

With the number of cases of swine flu rising, travellers quite rightly are raising the question about their travel insurance and whether they are covered for swine flu. We consider the question.

Travel Insurance

Update: 28 April

The Foreign Office have now advised all travellers not to travel to Mexico unless the trip is essential.

This means that most travel insurance policies will not cover you for travel to Mexico. Consequently if you do travel and need to make a claim then it is unlikely that your insurer will pay it.

You should check the details on your specific travel insurance policy and if appropriate check with your insurer or insurance broker.

Position as at 27 April

So far the World Health Organisation has described the swine flu virus as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ .

However, whilst officials from various Government departments have held an emergency Cobra meeting,the Foreign Office has not, as yet, advised against travel to any particular country or destination.

Until the Foreign Office does advise against travel to a particular country and airlines stop flying there, the normal conditions of a travel insurance policy apply.

So what does that mean?

Let’s consider travel to Mexico as a specific example, where over 100 people have died and over 1,600 are ill with the virus .

At the moment the Foreign Office has not advised against travel to Mexico and no airlines have stopped flights there.

This means that if your are due to travel or holiday in Mexico and decide to cancel your trip, you will not be able to claim for costs against your travel insurance.

If you decide to travel to Mexico whilst the Foreign Office still consider it safe to do so then your insurance will cover you if you fall ill, with swine flu or any other illness, according to the terms of your specific insurance policy.

In contrast, should the Foreign Office advise against travel to Mexico then

  • you will be able to cancel your travel arrangements and claim against your travel insurance policy, as per the specific conditions of your policy
  • if you do travel and fall ill whilst there, your insurance policy will not cover you

Whilst many British people do travel to Mexico, over 300,000 in 2008, many of these are tourists travelling to the Yucatan Peninsula, so far unaffected by the swine flu outbreak.

A number of airlines fly to Mexico City, including British Airways, United Airlines, KLM, Iberiam AeroMexico, American Airlines and Mexicana. All are still operating their flights normally.

Swine flu fears are already having a massive impact, not least on the value of shares of airline and holiday companies, with the FTSE 100 significantly down.

For the latest position on travel advice to specific countries, check with your travel agents or the Foreign Office.

MoneyHighStreet will consider other pertinent matters around swine flu as things progress.

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