Zika and travel insurance: what you need to know

You’re travelling to South or Central America, are you? And seriously reconsidering your trip, no doubt, especially if you’re pregnant. But will your travel insurance cover you if you cancel your trip?

Unfortunately, pregnancy and fear of travelling are excluded from coverage on many travel insurance policies. This means travellers are not covered if they decide to cancel their trip for pregnancy-related reasons or fear of contracting the Zika virus, despite the travel warnings issued.

Simmy Micheli, Manager – Sales and Marketing at TIC confirms this: “On TIC policies, disinclination to travel is excluded, so if a traveller is too frightened to go because of an infectious disease in the environment and wants to cancel the trip, this would not be covered. Full medical cover is, however, provided should a traveller become infected with the virus.”

The alternative would be for travellers to opt for the ’Cancellation for Any Reason’ benefit offered by many travel insurance providers, suggests Wybrant Lubbe, Sales Manager – Travel Insurance for Bidvest Insurance Group.

For Bidvest Travel Insurance clients the benefit is available under the Complete Leisure, Business and Business Extreme policies.

“In the event of the individual needing to cancel their international journey the benefit will allow the individual to be reimbursed up to the limit of liability as shown on the schedule of benefits and subject to the terms and conditions as set out by the insurance provider,” explains Wybrant.

Wybrant adds that it is important to note that the ‘Cancellation for Any Reason’ benefit forms part of the above mentioned Bidvest Insurance Group policies at no additional cost to the traveller.  Travellers can, however, increase the benefit to an additional R120k at a cost of R250 for every additional R10k.

For complete piece of mind, insurance providers are urging travellers to review their insurance policy terms and conditions and to discuss any concerns directly with the relevant provider who will be able to advise on the best possible options available.

Currently the Centers for Disease Control has set the virus alert at level 2, which means policy holders can still travel to the affected destinations and practice enhanced precautions:

  • Using insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, PMD, or IR3535, when travelling to infected areas.
  • Wearing clothing that covers most of your body, when walking around outside.
  • Using an insecticide-treated bed net.
  • Using insect spray to kill visible mosquitoes in your room.
  • Choosing air conditioned accommodation if possible.