You’ve probably heard by now that the Zika virus has been reported in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. This virus has been directly linked to neurological disorders and neonatal malformations in infants, and this has resulted in the World Health Organization issuing a public health emergency of international concern.
How does Zika affect travel?
The Zika virus is spread by mosquito, which makes it very easy to transmit and somewhat difficult to avoid. There is no vaccine available, so standard mosquito-bite precautions should be taken (long pants and sleeves, insect repellents, screened-in or air conditioned rooms.)
The virus should not cause a problem for most travelers. If you are healthy – and not pregnant – you have a 1 in 5 chance of actually becoming ill*. Symptoms can last up to a week and include a rash, fever, muscle and joint pain, and headaches. The CDC advises that travelers who contract Zika to use precautions against mosquito bites in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus.
Because of the link to neonatal problems, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should be concerned about the virus. If you are pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends postponing travel to areas affected by the disease.
Is this covered by travel insurance?
Travel insurance treats Zika just like any other illness. If a traveler is in a Zika-infected area and becomes ill, travel medical benefits are available. This includes emergency medical, medical evacuation and trip interruption benefits.
The threat of becoming ill is not a covered reason for trip cancellation benefits, however. Travelers can receive benefits under trip cancellation coverage only if they have a covered reason to do so. (What’s a covered reason? There are many. The best place to get that information is in your plan’s description of coverage).
What if you become pregnant?
Good news: if you have travel insurance and discover you’re pregnant, then rest assured that for most plans, pregnancy itself is a covered reason for trip cancellation, provided that the pregnancy occurred after the effective date of coverage.
If you are already pregnant and have yet to purchase your travel insurance, you’ll get the most peace of mind about coverage if you purchase a travel insurance policy with Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage. With Cancel For Any Reason coverage, travelers can simply change their mind about going, and as long as they cancel at least 48 hours prior to departure, they can be covered for up to 75% of non-refundable trip costs. This type of policy is only available as an upgrade to select RoamRight plans where the entire trip cost is insurance and purchase is within 21 days of making the initial trip deposit.
Travelers who are already pregnant, looking for travel insurance, and are no longer within that 21-day window will still have the trip cancellation benefits outlined in their RoamRight plan if they cancel for a covered Unforeseen event. These include events such as a family member’s or traveling companion’s sickness or injury, jury duty, a natural disaster destroying your home or your destination, layoff from work, a terrorist incident in your destination, and many others.**
Where can I learn more about Zika?
For more information about RoamRight and Zika, contact our customer service team directly at 800-699-3845 or email@example.com.
You may also want to check out our recent press coverage on this virus. You can find us in Fortune, Forbes, CNBC, The New York Times, and Huffington Post.
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
**For a full and complete list, please refer to your selected plan’s description of coverage.