What to watch for: The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Travel Insurance
by Thomas Hanes on Apr 4, 2020
Will travel insurance cover coronavirus-related trip cancelling? It's adverse in most cases, according to experts.
These are unusual times. COVID-19 has Canadian travellers in a state of uncertainty.
The Canadian government is tentatively closing the Canadian-U.S. border to all non-essential travel, and it put out a global non-essential travel advisory urging all Canadians avoiding travelling abroad for the time being.
Regardless if you are travelling or have plans to travel in the near future, make sure you recognise how COVID-19 may influence your travel insurance policy, as well as how to guard yourself and your loved ones.
COVID-19 is proving to be a grand test for us all, but rest assured we continue to operate—just uniquely. We are keeping updated from the government and health experts to find guidance to protect the safety of our clients and members. To promote social distancing guidelines and those staying home following travel, we continue to work remotely and offer consultation online and over the phone.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – FAQs
What Is COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is the most recently identified alteration of "coronavirus", which are a class of viruses that may cause people to become ill. A coronavirus can occur in a wide range of sicknesses from the common cold to more serious illnesses.
Who Is at Risk of Getting COVID-19?
Anyone may contract COVID-19 if they are exposed to it. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, or diabetes may be at greater risk of developing a severe illness if they are infected.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of a COVID-19 Infection?
There are many ways you can slow the spread of infection and protect yourself:
Use a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your arm and not your hands
Dispose of any tissues you use afterward immediately
Steer clear of crowds and people who are sick
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth since viruses on your hands can enter your body this way
Frequently use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after washing your hands with soap and water
Reduce the amount of contact you have with older adults and people with serious health conditions like cancer
How Do I Know If I Have COVID-19?
If you become infected with COVID-19, you may have little or no symptoms. It can be hard to tell because COVID-19 symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear, and they are similar to those of the common cold or flu. This Canadian government website provides details about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment.
How Contagious Is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is highly contagious. It can spread from person to person through the air if someone who is infected coughs or sneezes near you, or if you touch a surface or object after an infected person has. The federal government encourages Canadians to keep a physical distance from others through social distancing, and to embrace good hygiene practices such as washing your hands with soap and water frequently to help reduce the spread of the illness.
What Should I Do If I'm Outside of Canada?
The Canadian government has advised travelers to get back home as soon as you can. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, the federal government urges you to stay where you are for 14 days and self-isolate. If you do have COVID-19 symptoms and are outside of Canada, contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in the country where you are and ask for their help. Also, get in touch with your travel insurance provider and find out what your options are as per your travel policy. If you have purchased travel insurance before March 15, 2020, many insurers will cover you, but you should contact your provider to be sure.
Can an Ontario Resident Who Is Returning Home Get OHIP Coverage Right Away?
Yes. Usually, Ontario residents who are outside of Canada for more than seven months face a three-month waiting period before they can re-apply for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage when they return. However, because of COVID-19, the Ontario government is waiving the waiting period, so you will have OHIP coverage immediately.
If I Get Sick Outside of Canada?
Contact your insurance provider to be sure about what you do have coverage for and what you do not. Most will cover you, but some insurance providers may limit some coverage. In general, if you have a travel insurance policy that includes emergency medical coverage and suffer an injury or illness EVEN unrelated to COVID-19, you may be covered. It all comes down to the terms and conditions of your policy.
Some “snowbirds” have expressed a desire to stay where they are till the end of their coverage due to the 14-day quarantine period in Canada. Make sure your insurer provides this, most do. However, people should be aware that medical attention may be very hard to get in the USA, or wherever they are, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19.
Will My Travel Insurance Policy Cover Me for My Upcoming Trip?
In General, if you have bought travel insurance outside of Canada before March 15, 2020, you may not be covered unless your trip is approved by the Canadian Government. Your best bet is to contact your insurance provider and ask how COVID-19 may impact your travel insurance policy. Ask questions like:
Can I cancel my trip and activate my policy's trip cancellation coverage if I get sick before my departure date?
Will my policy's emergency medical coverage provide me with funds if I become ill or are quarantined while abroad? How much coverage does the policy provide?
Since the federal government issued a global non-essential travel advisory, can I activate my policy's trip cancellation coverage if I wish?
After the government lifts its non-essential travel advisory for my destination at a later date, will my policy still cover me for any type of emergency medical care I may need while outside of Canada?
Also, check with the airline or cruise line you booked with to find out if they will allow you to cancel your trip and get a refund if you choose to cancel your plans.
How Can I Find Out if the Canadian Government Issues a Travel Advisory for My Destination?
Visit the federal government's website for all travel advisories, and keep in touch with your airline or tour operator for any up-to-date information they can share.
Are People from Other Countries with Visitors to Canada Travel Insurance Still Covered?
In general, if you purchased a visitors to Canada insurance policy before March 15, 2020, you might still be covered for COVID-19 or other conditions. Check with your insurance provider.
If you purchased a visitors to Canada insurance policy on or after March 15, 2020, (but before arriving in Canada), the coverage might still apply provided you meet the Canadian government's criteria to enter the country.
If you are already in Canada, and unless a different company insured you in the previous 30 days, you may also be covered as per the terms and conditions of the policy. Contact your insurance provider to be sure.
Can I Extend My Visitors to Canada Insurance Policy?
Questionable. During this quarantine period, insurers may not be able to provide coverage. Check with your insurer or broker to find out what your options are. Contact your insurer or your advisor. If you can get an extension on your existing policy, make sure you know the terms, conditions, and exclusions. For instance, if you leave Canada and enter the U.S., will your policy cover you if you contract COVID-19 while in the U.S.? It might not. So, be sure to ask your insurer to explain the policy details to you.
Again, we at TLH Benefits are here to provide you with ongoing updates and consultations for all your travel coverage needs during these challenging times.
Contact us now and we can look into a coverage that is best for you!