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Travel insurance 'typically' covers swine flu

22 July 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is reassuring travellers that most travel insurance policies will "typically" cover the cost of medical treatment if they contract swine flu while on holiday.

Travel insurance providers will treat swine flu the same as they would any other illness, the ABI has stressed, covering the cost of any treatment required, in addition to the cost of rearranged flights and accommodation.

As with other illnesses, those people who are diagnosed with swine flu before they travel will be reimbursed for the cost of cancelling the holiday, as will any immediate family members who were due to travel with them.

The ABI also predicts that in the current circumstances, insurance providers will be lenient regarding the length of time it could take to acquire a doctor's certificate to confirm a claim .

This week has seen several cases of airlines disallowing passengers to board their flight because of suspected swine flu, which the ABI explains is in line with standard procedures for dealing with passengers who the airline deems unfit for travel, but this will also be covered by travel insurance.

The ABI assures customers that travel insurance companies are studying details provided by the Government about swine flu to help them asses the evidence available to support a claim made by a customer who is unfit to travel.

Commenting on the affect of swine flu on travel insurance policies, Nick Starling, ABI director of general insurance and health, said: "While the outbreak of swine flu is causing concern, people should not overreact or panic and travel insurance is there to help."

Comparison website Confused.com says that the outbreak of swine flu and its potential impact on travel arrangements emphasises the importance of having adequate travel insurance in place, but it should not take the outbreak of a pandemic to make people protect themselves, says Steve Williams, head of travel insurance at Confused.com.

"Travellers should not be prompted by major events such as the outbreak and spread of swine flu to buy cover," he said. "Every holidaymaker should ensure they are adequately covered as soon as the holiday is booked. Policies will not only cover you for unforeseen incidences such as illness or accidents, but it will also insure your holiday if you need to cancel it unexpectedly."

He added that taking the chance of not having sufficient protection, when travel insurance can be so inexpensive, "is unnecessary and foolish given the circumstances at the moment."

Confused.com recommends taking out an annual travel insurance policy while swine flu is posing a risk to the public and their holiday plans, because it provides cover for 12 months, offering cancellation, curtailment and repatriation costs.

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