Swine flu keep you from your holiday of a lifetime? Yeah, and pigs will fly . . .
The worldwide panic about swine flu is spreading faster then, well, swine flu. Not only are individuals panicking and frantically grasping for the anti-bacterial hand foam any time someone clears his throat, but immigration officers, border controls and insurers have come over a bit feverish with the latest pandemic.
For holidaymakers, the threat of swine flu can indeed be worrying, especially if you risk losing out on that all-important holiday because you've contracted the disease. Or you could find yourself faced with a hefty hospital or medical bill should you contract the H1N1 virus while abroad (pictures posed by models).
This is where your travel insurance comes in, and it's important that you familiarise yourself with your policy before you go.
Insurance policies, by nature, are wordy and detailed, and many travellers are unsure for what they are and are not covered. This has led to confusion among the general public as many debate upping their insurance, or scrapping the holiday altogether. In the case of AA travel insurance, a quarter of all their calls are now from travellers in relation to swine flu, seeking advice on their policies.
AA advises travellers to treat their holiday plans as normal.
"Case by case, we are treating swine flu the same way we would any severe illness while on holiday," says Christian Young, director of AA travel insurance.
"If a traveller is beginning to feel under the weather, as often happens, we would think it natural that they may continue to travel in the hope that their discomfort is temporary. If an airline says they can't board or an airport picks up serious illness on a scanner, whether or not holidaymakers continue to travel is outside their control and is covered by their insurance."
Are you covered?
"Check regularly with your insurer if you are travelling a lot to make sure the country you are travelling to is not experiencing a major outbreak of swine flu or you may not be covered," a spokeswoman for multitrip.com advises.
"You are covered, however, if you have already booked the trip and then the outbreak advice is announced."
As all insurers and policies can vary slightly, it is important that you check with your insurance providers to ensure you are covered.
"If a policy wording covers swine flu then it should cover an Annual Multi Trip policy, Single Trip Policy or Backpacker Policy at the time of booking," said Ciaran Mulligan, managing director of Blue Insurance.
He also advises to check your policy to see if you are covered if you contract swine flu before your holiday, or while there.
"Most comprehensive policies should cover insureds who contract swine flu when abroad, provided there was no condition at time of policy issue. The insured should be aware that if the Foreign Office/Dept of Foreign Affairs has advised people not to travel to a highly infected area or country and they still proceed, then they will not be covered."
As of August 13, the Department of Health and Children does not recommend that tourists postpone elective or non-essential travel to any area. It does, however, advise that travellers at risk of swine flu complications discuss any risks with their doctor, and recommend that travellers take the following precautions:
And if you do fall ill . . .
Your first priority will, obviously be your health, and to ring your GP as soon as possible to confirm your symptoms and advise on the next course of action.
If your holiday has been affected for some reason, for instance if your illness caused you to miss a flight, cancel a trip, receive medical treatment or hospitalisation, contact your insurer.
"You claim in the normal manner as you would do with any other illness," Mr Mulligan advises.
"Depending on the type of claim you should select the relevant claim form and you will need confirmation from your GP that you have the condition and are unable to travel. Your doctor will need to complete the relevant section on your claim form confirming the reason for the cancellation etc.
"If you are abroad and contract the condition then you must notify the relevant assistance company on your policy should you be hospitalised," he adds.