Avian Flu & Travel Insurance Coverage
Last updated on 03/28/2023
A rare strain of avian flu, H7N9, disrupted travel for many several years ago. There was a stark comparison to other infectious disease outbreaks in recent history – most notably, the 2003 H5N1 bird flu that killed hundreds, the H1N1 "swine flu" epidemic in 2009, and the infamous outbreak of SARS that resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths a decade ago.
Understandably, news of any potential outbreak of disease around the globe can make travelers wary of traveling to specific destinations that any have cases of the bird flu. While travel insurance cannot protect you from becoming ill, it does provide benefits that may help adjust travel plans and cover emergency medical costs if you do become ill.
Does Travel Insurance Cover the Bird Flu?
If you are intending to travel to a part of the world impacted by a known bird flu strain, you may have less coverage than you hope. You will want to understand the CDC’s definition of the illness (for instance, is it a pandemic or epidemic?) and how the travel insurance company will extend coverage. You will not be able to cancel your trip due to fear of becoming ill and, depending on the definition of the strain, your plan may not provide coverage if you are forced to cancel. However, the exception to the rule – as always – can be found in a Cancel For Any Reason policy.
How Cancel for Any Reason Can Provide Coverage for the Bird Flu
Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage provides you with the option to cancel your plans for whatever reason you choose whether it’s listed as “excluded” or not by your insurance provider. Savvy travelers who are looking at booking trips might be wise to purchase a CFAR policy sooner rather than later. While CFAR doesn’t reimburse 100% of your trip cost, it can add flexibility and up to 75% reimbursement, depending on the plan. Because CFAR is a time-sensitive benefit, to be eligible to purchase the coverage, you need to buy your travel insurance quickly; we generally recommend buying within 10-21 days of your first trip payment in order to be sure that all the possible options are available to you.
Keep in mind that when you purchase a CFAR policy, you may not be required to adhere to "covered reasons" for cancellation, but you do have to remain aware of the terms of your plan. In general, to file a claim using your CFAR benefit, you must cancel your trip and notify all travel suppliers 48 hours or more in advance of your scheduled departure.
Emergency Medical Coverage for the Bird Flu
If you contract the bird flu while traveling, travel insurance may help provide reimbursement for emergency medical costs or emergency medical evacuation, if deemed necessary by the physician. These benefits can help you save hundreds of thousands of dollars if you were to become ill and need medical attention while abroad.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article serves as a general overview of benefits and should only be used for informational purposes. Refer to your individual certificate of insurance for specific coverages, exclusions and benefits. When in doubt, please contact one of our licensed agents for additional assistance.