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Originally published Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 12:02 AM

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Swine flu: What travel insurance does and doesn't cover

A Q&A on what travel insurance does and doesn't cover when it comes to swine flu.

Los Angeles Times

Mounting infections, government alerts and quarantines of foreign visitors: The drumbeat of bad news about H1N1, or swine flu, never lets up. Besides taking the usual health precautions, travelers should consider buying trip insurance. But don't expect it to cover every situation.

Here's a Q&A on general industry practices on H1N1 for bundled policies, which typically cover the costs of trip cancellation and interruption, medical care and some other situations.

Q: If I cancel a trip because I contract H1N1 before I leave or my traveling companion or a family member contracts it, can I get back my nonrefundable deposits?

A: Generally yes, if you provide documentation of the illness.

Q: What if I cancel my trip because I am afraid I will get swine flu or be quarantined at my destination?

A: Generally, no. Insurance companies say their standard policies are designed to insure against unforeseen events, not fear of something happening.

It is possible, however, to buy coverage if you pay extra for a cancel-for-any-reason rider, usually sold as an optional addition to a standard policy. Many companies don't sell cancel-for-any-reason coverage in Washington state, but a few do.

Among them are Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com), which offers coverage in its Washington gold and platinum plans, and CSA Travel Protection (www.csatravelprotection.com).

Q: Does it matter if a U.S. government agency issues a warning that urges Americans to avoid visiting my destination or advises of risks of travel there?

A: Generally, no. A government warning is typically not a covered reason for trip cancellation.

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