Swine flu update


In China, scores of Mexicans and a few locals had been quarantined by the government in a hotel over the first weekend of May; on Monday 4 May, a plane chartered by the Mexican government arrived in China to bring home the 70 Mexican citizens. None of the travellers are said to have exhibited any flu symptoms, but they were nonetheless taken to the airport in ambulances. Felipe Calderon, Mexican president, said there had been an unfair backlash against Mexican travellers around the world.
Regarding travel insurance in the UK, there seems to be some lack of clarification. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against 'all but essential' travel to Mexico, but states on its website that the traveller must decide what travel counts as 'essential'. Most travel insurers also seem to have differing clauses on what they consider 'essential'. There would appear, though, to be a loophole: as the FCO has not advised against 'ALL' travel to Mexico, tourists who have a holiday booked there cannot just cancel their holiday due to 'disinclination' to travel to the country, and expect to claim for it under the cancellation clause in their travel insurance policy as most insurers do not offer cancellation cover due to 'disinclination to travel'.
So, travellers who decide to continue with their holiday to Mexico 'against' FCO advice will not be covered for medical expenses under their travel insurance policy if they contract swine flu, yet based on that same FCO advice, travel insurers are refusing to offer cancellation cover. A case of damned if you do, damned if you don't it would seem.
ITIJ is following up these avenues to clarify the position of insurers around the world, but it would appear that the swine flu outbreak has brought to the fore some latent issues regarding the wording of travel insurance policies when it comes to government advice for travellers. If you'd like to comment on any of the issues raised in this story, please do not hesitate to contact info@itij.co.uk.