The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada

The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada

May 06, 2009 11:50 ET

H1N1 Flu Alert From Canada's Travel Insurers: Get Trip Cancellation Cover

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 6, 2009) - H1N1 Flu Alert from Canada's Travel Insurers: Get Trip Cancellation Cover With H1N1 flu likely to prevail as a health threat throughout the summer vacation season, the Travel Health Insurance Association urges all Canadians planning international trips to protect their health and travel investment by getting trip cancellation/interruption insurance when they purchase their trip and follow their federal government's warnings about travel to any destination.

"This advice prevails not only for travel to and from Mexico, the epicentre of the H1N1 flu epidemic, but anywhere beyond Canada's borders," says THIA President Martha Turnbull. "H1N1 flu has been confirmed by the World Health Organization in North and Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Furthermore, Canada has been cited by foreign government and health authorities as a key vector for transmission of the virus and so Canadians might expect increased surveillance or questioning by border authorities when traveling abroad this summer. We have already seen quarantine of Canadian travellers in China. We can expect to see more such incidents."

In protecting their prepaid travel investment, THIA urges Canadian travellers to contact a travel insurance specialist, who could be their travel agent, insurance broker, financial institution or other distributor of travel insurance, and get a clear, plain language explanation of their trip cancellation benefits and how they integrate with the benefits and exclusions of their air carrier, tour company or cruise line.

"All policies have some limitations and exclusions, so it is more necessary than ever for travellers to understand where they stand should their trip to a given destination be suddenly cancelled, or should their destination resort close down, or should their government issue an advisory warning them not to travel to a certain country or parts of it,." says Ms. Turnbull. For example, on April 27, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada issued warnings against all but essential travel to Mexico. Anyone who buys a travel insurance policy after that time will not be covered for any trip cancellation/interruption and may not be covered for emergency health benefits while on their trip until the Canadian government rescinds that warning.

Canadian travellers also need to be aware that if they are uninsured and become ill while traveling abroad, they may encounter serious difficulties in getting a hospital bed in Canada-a situation made more difficult when pandemic fears threaten cross-border travel. "Dealing with repatriation at the best of times is a complex process involving the highest cooperation between physicians at the site, assistance companies and insurers," says Ms. Turnbull. "This is a situation travel insurers deal with every day. Without this backup, Canadian travellers would be alone to find their own solutions and absorb all the costs" she adds.

The safest course, says Ms. Turnbull, is for Canadian residents planning any international travel this coming summer-no matter where-to contact a travel insurance specialist and get a clear understanding of how best they can protect themselves while traveling abroad.

About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is http://www.thiaonline.com/.

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