Get Trip Cancellation Insurance to Guard Against European Superbug

If you’re planning a trip to Europe relatively soon, make sure you buy trip cancellation insurance to cover your travel investment in case the E-coli superbug that has infected thousands of people throughout Europe—and some travelers in North America—forces a change in your plans.

To date, German officials have been unsuccessful in tracking the source of the organism causing the outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) and as of June 7, the World Health Organization reports that 22 people have died, 2330 have been reported infected and 630 people have been hospitalized. Among those infected are two Americans who recently traveled to Hamburg, and a man from Peel Region, west of Toronto, who recently returned from a visit to Germany where he recalls eating salad vegetables—the presumed carrier of the bug.

German health authorities have so far erroneously blamed cucumbers from Spain and bean sprouts from Saxony as sources of the infection, but they appear to be no closer to tracking the source of this food borne bacterium, even as many of their hospitals are being overwhelmed with cases of suspected HUS.

Government health authorities in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., urge travelers to Europe to see a doctor immediately if they experience bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, tiredness or fever. European authorities also are reminding people not to eat raw tomatoes, cucumbers or other leafy vegetables until they can more definitively track the source of the infection.

At this point, no government have warned travelers to avoid non essential travel to any parts of Europe—although the infection footprint now covers most of western Europe.  But if HUS continues to spread, you may need to alter your travel plans, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance can protect any non-reimbursable deposits or payments you make for tours, hotels, flights, cruises or other arrangements.

If you buy your trip cancellation insurance before a government agency issues an Avoid Travel advisory, your coverage will be valid. Most policies require you to buy your insurance either at the time you buy your tour, or within a short time of such purchase.

Insurance purchases made after government advisories are issued, will likely not cover you for any losses related to the advisory.  But trip cancellation insurance is not perfect.  It has limitations and exclusions, and it only covers costs you have already put out that are non-reimbursable from other sources, and only up to specified limits, so understand what you buy.

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