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“Never before has travel health insurance been so important"

Date added: Tuesday 18th August 2009

Swine flu broke out in Mexico earlier this year.  Within a few weeks it had spread to over thirty countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic.  In July swine flu was seldom off  the front pages of the newspapers as the number of cases soared.  But last week the number of new cases in England dropped to 25,000 down from 100,000 cases in the last week of July.  However there is every expectation that numbers will rise again in the autumn and may well stay high for many months thereafter. So just because swine flu is out of sight, do not let it be out of your thoughts.

The WHO’s advice is that national borders should remain open throughout the duration of the pandemic and so far countries are abiding by this advice and there are no specific restrictions on travel as a result of swine flu.  But your gap year plans might well be affected should you contract swine flu.

There is a helpful page on swine flu in the Planning section of this website.  In simple terms if you go down with swine flu more than ten days before you are due to depart then you should have recovered in time to travel.  If you contract the virus close to your date of departure then you
should delay your travel.  This is where your travel insurance comes in. You should inform your insurance company, who will require you to obtain a certificate from your doctor stating that you are unfit to travel because you have an Influenza Like Illness (ILI).  The insurance company should then cover any additional charges that may arise as you reschedule your flights etc.

If you suddenly go down with flu on your way to the departure airport then the airline could stop you flying but only after you have been assessed by a doctor.  If you are found to have an ILI then you will be issued with a certificate which your insurance company will require.  It may be that your flu symptoms emerge while you are in the air.  Some countries are checking all passengers for high temperature on arrival and if you have such a temperature you may be taken into quarantine.  If you are being met by your gap year organisation then they should be able to help you contact your insurance company who will advise you on medical treatment.  Your insurance company will also need to know if you contact an ILI while on you gap year placement.

The message is to take out travel insurance at the same time as you book the first element of your gap year program. Check the small print to ensure that you will be covered should you go down with swine flu at a time when it will either affect your travel plans or your placement.  If it is not clear, ask.

Insurance is always important but swine flu adds an extra element of unpredictability that could mean unnecessary additional expense to your gap year plans if you do not have the right cover.

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