Does Travel Insurance Cover the Flu or Other Illness?

Every winter brings with it flu (influenza virus) and related illnesses, but recent winters have been especially severe in that regard. As a result, it’s made many travelers wonder if travel insurance will cover them if they cancel their trip because of the flu.

One in six U.S. adults have been forced to cancel, interrupt, or delay their travel plans, and medical conditions are often the cause. But, a travel insurance plan can help you in this situation.

Read on to learn more about all the ways travel insurance might help with sickness and tips for traveling with the flu.

Also read: Buying Travel Insurance in a Post-Pandemic World

How does travel insurance cover sicknesses like the flu?

Where the flu really comes into play for travelers – and travel insurance – is if they get sick.

Flu season can have serious consequences for a trip. For instance, just before you expect to leave on a vacation, you or someone in your family gets too sick to travel. You could be out of luck if you have non-refundable airline tickets, hotel reservations or other prepaid trip costs and can’t get a refund. 

Does travel insurance cover cancellation due to illness?

Travel insurance with Trip Cancellation coverage will cover you if you, a traveling companion or family member come down with an illness before your trip and an in-person visit to a doctor certifies that you’re too sick to travel. You can also be covered if a non-traveling family member is hospitalized due to an illness and you are unable to make the trip.

If you or a family member come down with a severe case of the flu, or if there’s an underlying health condition that can exacerbate or prolong flu symptoms, it’s possible to get sick enough from the flu to have to cancel a trip.

Regardless, if you feel too sick to travel it’s important to have your opinion confirmed and your diagnosis documented by a doctor. Medical documentation will be required if you’re looking to be reimbursed for your non-refundable trip costs if you have to cancel your trip.

Also read: What to Know About Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Travel Insurance

How else does travel insurance cover sickness?

Generali travel insurance with Medical coverage can help pay for medical treatment if you get sick with the flu or another illness on your trip. Trip Interruption and Travel Delay coverages, included with all of our plans, can also help out if you get sick on vacation.

Trip Interruption coverage can reimburse you for the prepaid cost of trip arrangements that you miss out on while you’re sick (accommodations, tours, flights event tickets and more).

Travel Delay coverage can provide reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, such as hotel accommodations, meals and transportation if you are unexpectedly delayed during your trip for a specified amount of time.

Also read: Why You Might Need to Buy Medical Coverage Before You Travel

A rough season for viruses

The winter of 2019-2020 has brought not only two severe strains of flu but also the Coronavirus, a disease closely related to SARS, a respiratory ailment that killed 774 people in 2002-03.

The flu is a serious concern for travelers that recurs every year. Consider these flu-related stats from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • On average, 9 to 45 million Americans get the flu each year
  • 140,000 to 810,000 are hospitalized for the flu each year
  • 12,000 to 61,000 die from the flu each year

The CDC recommends vaccination as the best way of preventing flu and its complications. If you have the flu, the CDC notes that antiviral medications like Tamiflu can help lessen the severity of your illness. More than 99% of the flu viruses tested this season are susceptible to either Tamiflu or its related antiviral medications.

Also read: 10 Tips for Traveling With Medication

How to deal with the flu when you’re traveling

The very best way to deal with the flu when you’re traveling is to not get sick at all.

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. If you haven’t had a shot, and you plan to be traveling to a part of the world with ongoing flu activity, you really need to get vaccinated – especially if you’re at high risk of flu-related complications.

Also read: Need to Go to the Hospital on a Trip Abroad? Here's What to Do

It’s important to be vaccinated at least two weeks before travel, so your body can develop the appropriate antibodies.

It’s also possible that the flu can be widespread in a country after it’s passed in the U.S. Most flu vaccines used in the U.S. expire in June, and aren’t generally available until the next season’s vaccine is produced and made available in the fall.

If you’re not sure of the flu situation where you’re traveling, the CDC frequently updates its page on seasonal flu activity throughout the world.

Despite all your best efforts, you still may wind up with the flu when you’re on the road. If that’s the case, try the following flu travel tips to lessen its severity:

  • See a doctor and get a dose of antiviral medication – the sooner the better.
  • Stay hydrated. Steady fluid intake is vital to speeding recovery.
  • Get your rest.
  • Dip into your honey stash. Honey straws are one of the stealth health items to pack in your purse or backpack when you travel. Honey’s antibacterial properties can help make some infections less severe – and honey feels so good when you’re sick.

Also read: How To Stay Healthy and Avoid Getting Sick Before a Vacation

Getting sick while your traveling is no fun, but traveling with the flu can quickly escalate from the no-fun stage to something far more serious. It’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible and it’s recommended to buy travel insurance ahead of time to help protect your vacation investment.

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