Insurance companies won’t cover bird flu claims

14-07-2006 | |

Insurance companies are writing bird flu clauses into their travel insurance policies to protect themselves from massive payouts if a pandemic hits, according to news reports in Australia.

The clauses mean that people insured under such policies will not be covered if they contract avian influenza while travelling. They are similar to those written into policies after the 2001 September 11 attacks protecting insurance companies against payouts in the event of a terrorist act.

A travel insurance policy issued by Vero Insurance Ltd states the company will not pay for: “Claims . . . arising from avian influenza (including the H5N1 strain) or any derivative or mutation of such viruses, or the threat or perceived threat of any of the above.”

Most business insurance policies include force majeure (natural disaster) clauses, which mean that insurance companies will not generally cover a company’s financial losses associated with a pandemic.

An Insurance Council of Australia spokesman warned businesses who wanted to try to protect themselves in the event of a pandemic to carefully read the product disclosure statement of their insurance policies before signing.

Fears about the possibility of a pandemic have been gathering momentum since confirmation of the first human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 strain of the virus in Indonesia late last month. But experts maintain that there is no evidence the virus is moving easily from human to human.