The Zika virus and travel insurance: What you need to know
Will your travel insurance cover you if the Zika virus strikes? Here's what you need to know.
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28 January 2016: The Zika virus is currently plaguing various Central and South American countries, and at least one Pacific Island (Samoa). As the virus continues its rapid spread, countries around the world have started to issue travel advisories for the affected nations.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus, which has been causally linked to the birth defect microcephaly. Microcephaly is the technical term for babies that are born with abnormally small heads.
The Zika virus was contained to the African continent until outbreaks were reported on the island nation of Yap (2007) and French Polynesia (2013). In 2015, Brazil attracted global media coverage as a spate of babies were born with microcephaly.
If you're planning a trip to an affected area, it's important that you check if your travel insurance will cover you. We've rounded up the current policies for major Australian brands. The bottom line? Many policies won't cover pandemics, especially when travel warnings have been issued.
|To the extent permissible by law, 1Cover will not pay if:||More info|
|No mention||More info|
|Fast Cover will not pay for any claim or loss under any circumstances if your claim arises from or is related to or is associated with:||More info|
|InsureandGo will pay a benefit under section A,cancelling your trip before departure, if the cancellation of your trip is necessary and unavoidable as a result of:||More info|
|Itrek will not pay under any circumstances if:||More info|
|Skiinsurance.com.au will not pay under any circumstances if:||More info|
|Tick Travel Insurance will pay a benefit under section A,cancelling your trip before departure, if the cancellation of your trip is necessary and unavoidable as a result of:||More info|
|No mention||More info|
|Travel insurance provides cover under section one (1), cancellation fees, lost deposits and curtailment, you're covered up to the maximum benefit in the event your trip is necessarily and unavoidably cancelled prior to departure or curtailed before completion because:|
Travel Insurance also provides cover under section 12, catastrophe cover, you're covered up to the maximum benefit reasonable additional travel and accommodation expenses incurred if:
|To the extent permitted bylaw Virgin Travel Insurance will not pay if your claim arises from, is related to or associated with:||More info|
|Worldcare Travel Insurance will not pay under any circumstances if:||More info|
|No mention||More info|
Note: Information is correct as of September 2019
- Cause. A virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- Symptoms. Mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis.
- Duration. Symptoms generally dissipate between two to seven days.
- Treatment. There is currently no specific treatment.
- Vaccination. There is currently no vaccine.
- Prevention. Avoid affected areas. If you must travel, wear protective clothing that protects against mosquito bites.
- Affected areas. The virus is present in Africa, central and South America, Asia and the Pacific.
Advisories from various nations and health organisations
As Zika continues to spread, various government agencies and health organisations have begun to issue warnings:
|Country/Health body||Warning||More information|
|Australia||Smartraveller advises travellers, particularly pregnant women, to be aware of the areas of ongoing transmission. All travellers are strongly urged to protect themselves by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites. Those who are pregnant or are attempting to get pregnant should consider postponing their travel.||More info|
|Canada||It is recommended that those considering getting pregnant or pregnant women discuss their travel plans with a doctor and consider postponing their travel.||More info|
|European Union||The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommends that pregnant women or those planning on having children, speak with a doctor before they depart and consider postponing their trip.||More info|
|United Kingdom||Pregnant women are advised to reconsider travel to areas where Zika virus is present.||More info|
|United States of America (CDC)||Women who are pregnant should consider postponing travel.||More info|
|World Health Organisation||Travellers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.||More info|
Where do I need to be on alert for Zika?
Countries that have reported cases of the ZIka virus are:
- American Samoa
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Argentina (Tucumán Province)
- Bonaire (Netherlands Territory)
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Dominica (Commonwealth of)
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Guinea Bissau
- Kosrae (Federated States of Micronesia)
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Barthélemy
- Saint Martin
- Sint Maarten (Netherlands Territory)
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos
- United States of America - Florida
- US Virgin Islands
Source: The Department of Health
Countries affected by the Zika virus
How can I prevent being affected by the Zika virus?
Was to avoid being affected by the Zika virus include:
- Only sleeping in rooms with air conditioning and fly screens on the window
- Use insect repellent
- Wear long clothing (shirts and pants), and avoid exposed skin
- Sleeping under a bed net
- Avoid travel to affected areas
Where did the Zika virus come from?
The Zika virus first appeared in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947 and it wasn't until 1952 that the Zika virus was reported in humans in both Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Since this time outbreaks of Zika have been identified in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and in the Pacific
How do I know if I have Zika?
While there is not a lot known about the Zika virus, its symptoms include:
- Conjunctivitis and itchy eyes
- Eye pain
- Joint pain
- Mild fever
- Muscular pain
- Swelling in the hands and feet
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you've travelled to an affected area and think you may have contracted the Zika virus you should:
- Contact your doctor immediately
- Avoid any further mosquito bites
- Keep up your fluid intake
- If you are exhibiting symptoms such as fever or headaches, you should take paracetamol
- Avoid medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
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