Eli Orzessek finds the answers to your travel questions.

I've heard a lot of horror stories about people finding bedbugs in accommodation while travelling in the United States and other places. I'm going to be travelling to New York in a few months and I'm nervous about bringing them home without realising. I was wondering if travel insurance would cover you if you ended up needing to throw out your clothes and luggage if they were infested?

I'm sorry to inform you that bed bugs can even be found on planes these days — recently, two Air India planes were grounded due to bedbug outbreaks in Business Class (!) on flights from Newark, New Jersey, to Mumbai. It has to be the first time I've ever heard of Business Class passengers requesting to be moved to Economy — you definitely don't want to have a run in with these little guys.

And when it comes to accommodation, it's not a problem isolated to budget hostels and backpacking — they've been discovered in five-star hotels as well, proving that budget doesn't guarantee immunity.


In fact, in California the The Palm Desert Embassy Suites Hotel is in a legal battle with Victoria's Secret model Sabrina Jales St. Pierre, who reported being "massacred"
by the insects during a stay.

However, the hotel claimed it hadn't found any evidence of bedbugs in the room.

I've asked Natalie Ball, director of comparetravelinsurance.co.nz, for advice on this issue.

She said though bedbugs were not generally known to spread diseases, travel insurance would cover a doctor's visit as a result of bedbug bites.

"Although comprehensive travel insurance will cover you to buy clothes if your suitcase is delayed or your bag is stolen, most brands exclude coverage for luggage if the loss or damage is the result of insects, rodents or other vermin.

"It pays to keep your bags well away from bedding and other furniture — the bathroom is a popular choice — and check along mattress and sofa seams before you unpack."

So, it seems the best insurance against bedbugs is taking preventive measures — scanning hotel reviews for any mention of infestations is a good start.

And if you do suspect you've brought home some stowaways, wash all your clothing in hot water — bedbugs are unable to survive at temperatures above 50C.


Email your questions to askaway@nzherald.co.nz
Eli cannot answer all questions and can't correspond with readers.
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