Travel Insurance and Swine Flu – Are You Afraid to Travel?

The fear of catching Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) may discourage many people from booking overseas travel and holidays. What if you get sick before your departure date, or fall ill while on holiday? Will travel insurance cover you? These are valid concerns.Travel insurance should provide cover if you contract swine flu before leaving for your holiday, or fall ill while overseas. However, if you have booked a holiday and are otherwise healthy but merely change your mind about travelling because of fear of contracting swine flu it is unlikely that travel insurance will cover any associated losses. Travel insurance policies vary widely in the amount of medical care and payments they cover but most should provide for swine flu, just as any other medical condition. If in doubt always call and ask.Check your travel insurance policy for adequate levels of medical cover and also that emergency medical evacuation and repatriation are included. If you are not satisfied with your policy there is normally a cooling-off period to cancel and find another as long as you have not commenced travel or made a claim.If you have a temperature at the time of travel be aware that medical screening for swine flu is in place at airports in some countries of the world. There may be automatic temperature scanners to check passengers arriving on international flights, or temperatures may be checked with ear or oral thermometers. Those found to have high temperatures or showing symptoms of swine flu may be required to have further tests and be put into quarantine. Travellers have been held in quarantine after arriving at their destination airport in several countries, including China, Egypt, Singapore, Turkey and India.If you book a package holiday it would be wise to check with your travel agent or tour operator to clarify their policy regarding holidaymakers who become ill while overseas. Be aware that airlines have the right to deny boarding to any passenger for health or hygiene reasons – which includes flu symptoms.Regarding swine flu, those considered at special risk, such as older persons, pregnant women, babies, children under five, or patients with chronic medical conditions are advised to contact their doctor before arranging travel. Depending on the destination country, and availability of adequate medical facilities, your doctor may advise that you take a supply of antiviral medication (such as Tamiflu) with you.Cruise passengers are screened before boarding ship, for obvious reasons, and those showing symptoms of swine flu or other illness could be denied boarding.To find out the latest information and professional advice on Swine Flu, or any other disease outbreak in the world, talk to your doctor or search for information online. Start with any of the following websites:The World Health Organization (WHO), National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, National Pandemic Flu Service at Directgov (UK), UK Border Agency, National Health Service (NHS -UK), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). For updated statistics of Swine Flu outbreaks by country and to view a map showing confirmed/possible/fatal cases visit Rhiza Labs/Google’s FluTracker website.If you have travel plans it is sensible to be vigilant and avoid contact with people who may be infected with swine flu or any other illness. However, worrying obsessively about all the things that might happen to disrupt your travel plans might mean you will never leave home!There is only so much you can do to avoid catching germs whether you are at home, at work, or on holiday. It is up to the individual to decide whether fear of catching swine flu will put an end to their travel fun. Unless a medical professional advises against travel, or there is an advisory in force against travel to a certain part of the world, it is best to keep swine flu in perspective – but be sure to take out adequate travel insurance if you do decide to go!

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