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Zika virus causes surge in calls for travel insurance

Zika virus causes surge in calls for travel insurance
Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which carry the Zika virus, are photographed in a laboratory at the University of El Salvador in San Salvador. Interest in travel insurance has surged because of fear of Zika. (Marvin Recinos / AFP/Getty Images)

The Zika virus has joined terrorism and extreme weather as one of the biggest worries of airline travelers.

InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance comparison site, reported a 20% surge in calls last week from travelers worried about the virus that can cause fever, rashes, joint pain or conjunctivitis. The virus may possibly lead to birth defects if it is contracted by a pregnant woman.

Travel insurance experts say most standard travel insurance policies won't let you cancel simply because of fear of the virus, even if you are pregnant. However, travelers who buy more expensive cancel-for-any-reason policies can get their money back if they cancel out of fear of Zika.

“The Zika virus is a real concern for travelers,” said Jim Grace, chief executive of InsureMyTrip.

Several airlines, including United and Delta, have offered to reschedule flights or give refunds to passengers with tickets to areas of the world heavily hit by the Zika virus.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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