Dealing With The Zika Virus: Plane, Cruise, Hotel, Travel-Insurance Updates by Lea Lane...

Posted on February 04, 2016 by Guy Paquette

So how is the travel industry reacting, as tourists flock to these warmer climate destinations to escape Northern Hemisphere cold?

Most airlines are offering refunds to those with special risk — usually pregnant or possibly pregnant customers — who hold tickets to regions that the C.D.C. says are affected by the virus; they can usually postpone trips or receive refunds. United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America and Delta are among the air carriers offering full or partial refunds. As information is updated, offers may change, so check before booking.

Cruise lines who sail in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, including Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, are allowing pregnant travelers leeway to cancel and get credits. Again, this policy is adapting to further information, so be sure to ask.

Most hotel chains in affected regions are not yet offering refunds and have not implemented cancellation policies. Right now they are collecting info about the virus and providing mosquito repellent and warnings. Some chains, including Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt hotels and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, are considering waivers for cancellations on a case-by-case basis.

Tour providers are getting questions, and cancellations are increasing, especially with clients planning trendy “babymoons,” vacations scheduled before baby arrives. Some are rebooking in the US or other northern climes. And hotels are negotiating refunds on a case-by-case basis.

Most insurance plans are treating the virus as any other illness in the policy’s terms and conditions: if travelers contract the virus while traveling, they are covered for emergency care, medical evacuation and trip interruption benefits under most plans. But for now travel insurance providers don’t consider the C.D.C. warning a reason to cancel a trip to an affected country. Check with TravelInsurance.com. For safest options, it’s best to use a plan with a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) option, such as  RoamRight,  or Travel Insured International.

To sum up, if you’re already pregnant or think you might be, talk to your doctor, and consider postponing visits to countries where Zika transmission has been reported. And if you’re not pregnant, while traveling in these areas, use dependable birth control.

And for precaution, in areas where the virus has been reported, cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use insect repellent like DEET and use permethrin-treated clothing and equipment.


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