Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pandemic Exclusion Clause Against Swine Flu?

Earlier this year swine flu gripped the world and travellers monitored pandemic developments eagerly, but how has swine flu influenced current travel insurance policy, and why are insurers no longer afraid of it?

Fundamentally, travel insurance policies should treat swine flu as any other medical emergency. However, particularly during the outbreak of the swine flu pandemic, several insurance companies resisted providing cover against customers catching swine flu on holiday or before flying; protecting themselves with a specific clause.

Pandemic exclusion clause

In particular, travel insurance policies combat the risk of swine flu with the pandemic exclusion clause. This clause exists to limit the insurer's liability if a global pandemic were to truly take hold. Claims on such a huge level could potentially bankrupt even a large insurer and the role of the pandemic exclusion clause is to prevent that from occurring.

Notably, swine flu has impacted the world on a much smaller scale than the media coverage would have us believe; the duration of news broadcasts relating to H1N1 is entirely disproportionate to the actual number of cases.

Swine flu versus normal flu

Swine flu has reportedly taken 700 people from the world's population in the first four months of the pandemic. Bear in mind the global population is currently estimated at 6,787,000,000 (6.8 billion).

What is also interesting to note, is that conventional influenza (normal flu) takes between 250,000 and 500,000 people each year, in the seasonal epidemics we are accustomed to every autumn and winter.

Industry response

Having made this comparison, it is understandable why the travel insurance industry is willing to largely drop the pandemic exclusion clause from policies currently on the market.

This point is further reinforced by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) making a blanket statement reassuring consumers that in the event of suffering swine flu, travel cancellations, medical treatment costs, plus further quarantine costs should be covered in the policies offered by ABI's members.

Technorati tags; swine flu, pandemic exclusion clause, travel insurance.


  1. I work for a major travel insurance firm who will remain nameless. They applied this pandemic exclusion clause in early travel insurance policies, and removed it for exactly that reason you mention. I'm glad that you raised this point.

  2. Wow! Interesting research about swine flu: I never realised how much more significant normal flu is compared to swine flu!