Zika: A Bane for Travellers and A Boost for Travel Insurance Companies

Travel Insurance and Zika Virus

It has not been a long time since the Zika virus plagued countries in South America - to the detriment of many travellers, some of whom were looking forward to spending vacation time in the continent. Governments have tried to contain the virus by imposing strict health certification and quarantine measures and it's too early to tell whether efforts have paid off. So far, only a few cases have been recorded outside of Latin America.

As travellers grow more and more concerned about their health and safety, travel insurance industry continues to benefit from the global pandemonium triggered by the virus (and fuelled by the media). There has been an explosive demand for travel insurance plans. Travellers seek comprehensive financial coverage for unexpected medical expenses and other trip-related losses in the event Zika catches them off-guard or their luggages get lost in the shuffle.

A Brief History of the Virus

For the sake of travellers who may have heard about Zika but do not know what it is or what it does to its victims, a brief background may be in order.

The first known outbreak dated back to 2007 in one of the islands of Micronesia. The virus affected less than 200 people (including suspected cases) and majority of them suffered conjunctivitis, rashes and joint pain. Five years later in 2013, French Polynesia documented another Zika outbreak which affected a great portion of the population. The virus rapidly spread out to other Pacific Islands. A number of the cases manifested the same characteristics as arbovirus infections (i.e. encephalitis). However, due to insufficient laboratory capacity and the absence of more advanced facilities, many infection cases remained undetected.

Zika is closely related to dengue (a mosquito-borne disease widespread in Asia and Africa). Mosquitoes responsible for the massive propagation of this virus are commonly known as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. While the former thrives in the tropics and sub-tropics at present, the latter originated from Asia but can now be found in Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Southern Pacific. Other variants, Aedes hensilli and Aedes polynesiensis, were suspected to be behind the first two Zika outbreaks in the Pacific. As there seems to be a data vacuum and scientists have not yet completely figured out the virus, it is implied that any Aedes specie has the potential to transmit it (if not another virus with similar features).

So how do you know if the virus has affected you or not? Here are some generic signs and symptoms to look out for (symptoms are more or less similar to dengue):

  • Fever
  • Rashes on your body
  • Pain in your joins
  • Reddening of eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

The illness is generally mild but can last a few days to a week. Not everyone automatically becomes ill though one out of five people do. The virus sticks to the person's blood stream and can be transmitted through intercourse. Pregnant women affected by Zika may run the risk of giving birth to children with microcephaly and, more often than not, damaged brains.

No Trip Cancellation for Zika

But here is the question: to what extent will your travel insurance cover you? The answer is subject to contention. In Canada, the narrative has just changed and many travel insurance companies view the Zika virus issue in a manner that may disappoint travellers (so please take note).

The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada has recently announced that no travel insurance company will offer trip cancellation coverage for individuals flying off to Zika-infested countries. According to Alex Bittner, “A health risk like the Zika is not an insurance benefit under a travel insurance trip cancellation policy.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also declared the Zika outbreak as an international emergency. Booking flights and trips after the WHO declaration renders any subsequent cancellation claim null and void. Travellers may get to claim for travel medical insurance but provided with sufficient medical evidence.

Similar Articles

Health Insurance

The offer of medical insurance is immense all over the world, where about twenty companies operate each offering up to five different modalities. That is, we can choose up to almost one hundred health insurance options and a hard job awaits us if we want to study them all from their official internet pages.

life insurance

There have lots of families who have life insurance. Million contracts are currently running in particular regions. But the former "standard insurance" is poorly available nowadays: it's not worth it anymore. When should you keep your agreement, when should you get rid of it? 

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance is a broad class of insurance policy that is meant to insure liability professionals face at work.  This includes coverage for legal defense and amounts awarded in court to the plaintiff if the professional should be found liable for damages.

Marine Insurance for Cargo Shipping: Is It Worth Considering?

There are different types of insurances out there that can help you in difficult times. You can save a lot of money if you have availed a relevant insurance timely. You have to make sure that you have the perfect insurance plans with you. You cannot take a chance with your income and capital right?

What Does Commercial General Liability Insurance Cover?

Nowadays, mostly all the business simply has commercial general liability insurance. Thus, it is important for you to understand what it covers and what it does not cover.


Needless to mention, the growth of an insurance company is very much based on marketing tactics. People purchase your insurance policies when you convince them about the benefits that your company offers to them. This is where marketing comes into the picture.

health insurance policy

Choosing a healthcare plan may seem overwhelming. There are many factors to take into consideration before committing to any policy. Understand these six considerations before making a purchasing decision. 

Commercial Auto Insurance

Most small business owners are often finding themselves at the short end of the stick when it comes to choosing suitable auto insurance plans. Small business owners have always regarded commercial auto insurance plans as expensive and best suited for large corporations.

health insurance

Finding relevant and suitable health insurance for your aging parents can be a tricky affair. After all, insurance companies are reluctant to offer coverage to older individuals. This is mainly because people over the age of 50 are more prone to illnesses and visit the doctor more often.