Ebola has put a dampener on some travel plans. It could affect your family travel insurance if your destinations are affected.
Single, group and family travel insurance policies are a must if you plan to travel. They are especially useful if external events force you to cancel your trip or if you find yourself requiring medical attention while abroad. Ebola, however, presents a whole new ballgame – especially since it has become widespread enough to warrant government intervention. It's no surprise that providers are reacting in different ways. The question, however, is just how much of an effect Ebola will have on your basic family travel insurance policy. Here are some of the more notable aspects to keep in mind.
Disinclination is Not a Plausible Reason
Some family travel insurance providers offer packages that reimburse you if you decide to cancel your trip for any reason at all. Others will only reimburse your travel fees if there is a plausible reason for you to cancel your trip. Fear of contracting Ebola is not a plausible reason, especially if you are travelling in destinations where the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not released any travel advisories for your planned destinations. If your destinations have, however, been marked by the FCO as unsafe after you’ve made arrangements while it was still safe, then your provider will be expected to cover your cancellation expenses. This also applies if your airline decides to cancel services to your planned destination due to Ebola or some other outbreak.
Contracting Ebola Inside and Outside Countries with Travel Advisories
If you ignore the FCO’s advisories and enter countries it has marked as unsafe due to Ebola – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone at the moment – then don’t expect your provider to bail you out if you contract the dreaded disease. Simply put, you’ll have to be responsible for your own welfare if you travel against the FCO’s advice. If, however, you are infected by the virus in any other country, your provider is expected to cover the expenses involved. This is extremely unlikely to happen outside of the aforementioned countries, but it is reassuring to know that the FCO will pitch in the consumer’s favour if it does happen.
Delays Due to Ebola Screenings
Providers are very unlikely to reimburse you if you are unable to make your flight on time due to enhanced airport screenings that test for the Ebola virus. Such a situation, however, is rare since the heaviest screenings are for inbound airline passengers arriving from West African countries. It is nonetheless a good idea to arrive a few hours before departure just in case these delays spill over and start affecting outbound flights as well.
Getting In Touch with Local Embassies or Health Ministries
The effects of contagious diseases evolve over time, with advisories being released as the need arises. This is why it is always a good idea to get in touch with the embassies or health ministries of countries you are visiting – especially those in West Africa where the risk of Ebola infection is highest. The information you can gather from doing so will help you better determine if the virus will come in as a risk factor when applying for your family travel insurance.
Keep these titbits in mind and you’ll be able to rest easier now that you know how to better work with your provider when it comes to Ebola and other infectious diseases.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of Insuremore. We provide low cost travel insurance and offer a range of policies including family travel insurance, annual, multi-trip and single-trip insurance. For all your travel cover needs, Insuremore can help you in the quickest and most cost-efficient way.