The COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a standstill and the demand for travel insurance quickly stopped. But we know that once the outbreak is over and global travel resumes, travel insurance will be more essential than ever.
Let’s take a look at the impact of COVID-19 on your travel insurance.
The serious health threat of COVID-19 has caused most Canadians to cancel their travel plans for the near future.
But some Canadians are still making plans to travel outside their province or outside Canada once the current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Here are some predictions from travel experts:
- Cruises will be very cheap.
- Cleanliness standards and medical screening will be in place almost everywhere you go, including border checkpoints at airports, roads, ports or train stations.
- Hotel room rates may be more reasonable.
- Airfares may go down and planes will be emptier.
It is vital to weigh into your planning that travel to another province or country will still carry the risk of COVID-19. For those that currently have a SBIS Prism health and dental plan, you will luckily have some emergency medical travel coverage in place. All Prism plans will cover COVID-19 for travel to June 30, 2021 making this the perfect time and reason to get a Prism plan.
We will continue to update our website and our customer service representatives will have the most up to date information when more travel companies open up their coverage to include COVID. Please continue to check in with us regarding updates.
When you do travel again it will be extremely important to take extra steps to make sure you are protected from the unexpected.
According to recommendations from the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, as part of planning any trip in the future you will want to
- Check https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for Canadian Government travel advice and advisories. Why? As described by the Government of Canada, the two highest risk levels of travel advisories — “avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all travel” — can affect your travel insurance coverage, depending on when the travel advisory comes into effect. For more information, read Does My Travel Insurance Cover Me In a Country With A Travel Advisory?
- Read your travel insurance policy and call your insurer to check if your travel insurance includes treatment related to COVID-19 outside Canada.
- Understand your travel carrier’s health requirements. You may not be able to board, or enter your resort or hotel if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.
- Know your travel destination’s entry requirements and follow them carefully, such as adhering to a quarantine period.
- If you need to return home unexpectedly, there will likely be fewer available flights, train or bus trips available, making your options limited.
- Ensure your travel insurance covers the entire duration of your trip because you may not be allowed to extend your policy after you depart.
- Be ready to return to Canada as quickly as possible if your destination is upgraded to “avoid non-essential travel” or “avoid all travel” on the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisory.
- When you get home, you must be prepared to follow the federal and provincial/territorial governments’ testing, quarantine and exposure tracking requirements.
A good step to take before you travel outside Canada is to register your trip (Registration of Canadians Abroad) with the government so they can keep you up to date on travel issues while you are away.
To learn more about how Canadian insurers are responding to COVID-19, visit www.clhia.ca/covid19information
Here is a quick review of basic travel insurance coverage:
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
protects you from out-of-pocket costs if you have to cancel your trip for reasons beyond your control, including if you fall ill.
Because COVID-19 is a known health threat, it is excluded as an insured reason for cancelling your trip regardless of where you are travelling.
- Emergency Medical Insurance
This kind of travel insurance pays the costs incurred or reimburses you for medical expenses, like hospitalization and emergency evacuation if you have an accident or become seriously ill while you are travelling.
Your current emergency medical coverage likely does not cover COVID-19.
Travel insurance policies will change, and you will likely see policies in the future that
- Are more expensive and exclude certain coverage in the event of the declaration of a pandemic, at least in the immediate future.
- Evolve to cover return travel if you fail medical screening and are not allowed to enter the destination country, or develop sudden flu-like symptoms or fever and must return to Canada.
For now, most travel insurers exclude coverage for coronavirus/COVID-19. If you are planning to travel and are selecting travel insurance to cover medical and cancellation costs, it is vital to ask your carrier specifically what their policy covers regarding COVID-19.
Canadian travellers always face several factors beyond their control, and that’s why they buy insurance. Understandably, COVID-19 has changed the travel landscape, but insurers will respond and provide new ways to provide needed protection and make it simple for people to avoid the risk of financial distress.
At SBIS, we have and will continue to evolve our travel insurance offerings and work to keep you, our valuable customers, fully informed so you can travel safely and securely.