Travel insurance: What happens if you catch Ebola while on holiday?

  • Will your travel insurance cover your medical bills and extraction if you get Ebola?

    In early October 2014, with the help of the US Navy, a new mobile laboratory opened at Island Clinic, one of the WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: WHO/R. Sørenson

    In early October 2014, with the help of the US Navy, a new mobile laboratory opened at Island Clinic, one of the WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: WHO/R. Sørenson

  • Will you be covered if Ebola breaks out in the country you are travelling to, and all flights are grounded?

This time of year many New Zealanders are contemplating holidays, which usually means busy airports, crowded aircraft and exotic destinations which, to some people’s thinking, may risk greater exposure to the Ebola outbreak… but is there really a cause for concern? And, what are your options if you contract the virus while on holiday?

Besides one or two isolated events in the United States and Spain, the disease remains largely confined to West Africa – although health officials are monitoring the situation carefully.

If you’re travelling over this Christmas 2014, you may be wondering how your travel insurance would respond to the Ebola crisis that is currently unfolding.

Travel insurance would really ‘kick in’ only if there were to be an insured event e.g. the airline stops all flights going to your destination.

If you decide not to go, or perhaps delay the flights for 6 months to see what happens, that may not be classified as an insured event. In which case, the travel insurance would not cover those costs of delaying the flights and any other consequential losses (e.g. loss of deposits for hotels, car hire, etc).

It is a difficult situation to address categorically, because each case stands on its own merits, but the general rule is that if you cancel the trip (unless there is some factor such as a broken leg that prevents you from travelling), your travel insurance will not cover you.

If you were, at the most remote of chances, to catch the disease and you were not travelling against airline advice, then your travel insurance would cover medical and related costs.

All insurance policies have sub-limits for certain cover types (e.g. $10k for baggage, unlimited medical, etc) – so it is always a good idea to check what your insurance limitations apply to your policy. For example, check to see if your policy has unlimited medical expenses coverage, and if it covers the costs of getting you back to New Zealand – as well as coverage for some follow on treatment.

Generally, if you use an insurance adviser, you will be notified if there are any limitations to the cover or if there is a ‘block’ on any new business being written for certain locations.

As soon as your tickets are booked, your travel insurance policy should be put in place immediately.

If you have booked to go to a certain destination 12 months prior and didn’t take travel insurance until a month before you left, you could be faced with a situation where they cannot get travel insurance if the insurer, for example, has put a ban on new business for whatever reason, or you experience some sort of medical condition that prevents you from getting insurance cover.

If you would like to know more, give us a call – we’re always happy to have a chat.

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