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Thinking of a getaway? Travel insurance specialists are warning travellers to take extra precautions if they’re planning a trip abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect how we conduct ourselves around the world. One of the most important things you can do before your trip is to purchase travel insurance. How much coverage do you need for a COVID-19 related medical emergency? When it comes to travel and COVID-19, we’ve broken down the essentials you should look for in your travel insurance coverage. This includes a checklist to ensure you get the best coverage for COVID-19 while travelling.

Does travel insurance cover COVID-19?

Most analysts agree bookings aren’t expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until well into 2022 or even 2023. However, travel agents are receiving inquiries from clients eyeing sunny getaways in February or March 2022. The number one question being asked is about travel and COVID-19. More than half of travel insurance providers in Canada now offer options to protect yourself in case of medical emergencies or trip disruptions linked to the virus.

Two main types of travel insurance

There are a few different options for you to consider when it comes to travel insurance. The two most common options are:

  1. Trip cancellation
  2. Medical coverage

Trip cancellation insurance is just how it sounds — you’re insured in case your trip is cancelled for any reason. This can be due to a cancelled flight or a sudden illness ahead of your trip.

If you purchased trip cancellation insurance, you might be covered if you decide to cancel your trip. This would depend, however, on when you purchased your policy. Many travel insurance providers now exclude COVID-19 related cancellations for coverage purchased after a certain date. However, each provider is different, so be sure to check your policy for trip cancellation. If you’re currently making travel plans, also consider purchasing a comprehensive COVID-19 travel insurance plan. Both will help to keep you covered in case you get infected with the coronavirus while abroad.

Medical insurance covers you in case you contract COVID-19 while you’re away. It also helps to protect you from several other health concerns requiring medical treatment abroad. If you’re choosing insurance before leaving Canada, you should pick one that is extendable as travel protocols change. If you have an underlying medical condition that disqualifies you from some general health insurance providers, you should do your research.

COVID-related medical insurance coverage

According to Rates.ca, the following list identifies COVID-19 protections that may be offered as part of, or as an add-on for, emergency medical travel insurance:

  • Emergency medical costs, including intensive care, medical tests and medications, for up to $1,000,000 CAD, per insured.
  • Non-COVID-19 emergency medical coverage for physical injury and illness for up to $5,000,000 CAD, per insured.
  • Quarantine-related costs, including meals and accommodation, for up to of $2,100 CAD, per insured.
  • Ambulance transportation costs.
  • Air evacuation from destination to Canada. This includes a one-way economy ticket for the insured, and may also include passage for dependents and travelling companions.
  • In the event of death, repatriation costs for up to $5,000 per insured.

Please note that coverage types and amounts may vary by insurance provider.

Stay up-to-date with current travel restrictions

If you decide to travel abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be limiting your ability to obtain individual travel health insurance for non-essential travel. New trip cancellation/interruption policies may also affect you. Canada currently has an “avoid all non-essential travel” rule to all countries outside of Canada. Many companies will not cover Canadians abroad because of the ban. Thankfully, some companies don’t have that clause in their travel insurance benefits. There is a COVID-19 Rider (an add-on) with some medical insurance packages for those who need to travel. Ask our isure brokers for more information.

Without the COVID-19 Rider, your medical travel insurance protection has an exclusion. This would be in the event of a travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel being issued by the Canadian government prior to your departure date or while on your trip.

Create a travel checklist before you buy

Here is a checklist from travel.gc.ca that you can reference when purchasing travel insurance. It is important to read the fine print in order to understand the policy. When in doubt, ask questions. With travel insurance, you need to ask those hard questions that cover the following:

  • Make sure you are covered for COVID-19-related medical expenses, other non-COVID-19 emergency-related expenses. This includes trip cancellation and/or interruption, if available.
  • While some insurance companies may offer COVID-19 medical expenses coverage, it may not include protection for other non-COVID-19 emergency-related expenses.
  • Find out if you are covered for quarantine costs should you become infected with COVID-19 during your trip. Travellers require a negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada. If you test positive before your return home, you may have to wait out the virus in a hotel, short-term rental or government facility.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance coverage for your entire trip, as some insurers may limit options to extend policies after departure.
  • Find out if you are covered for extended stays outside Canada.
  • If you are currently abroad in a destination where we advise against non-essential travel, find out if your travel insurance benefits may be limited.
  • Be aware that if you need to return to Canada for medical care, your options may be limited due to decreased availability of flights.

With some all-inclusive deals, you may have COVID-19 insurance coverage that comes standard with your booking. Several large resorts and vacation packages offer complimentary coverage. It will often include emergency medical costs, trip interruption coverage and even quarantine expenses.

Thinking of cancelling your trip due to COVID-19?

Rising COVID counts both here and abroad are unsettling for all of us. If you decide to cancel your trip due to COVID concerns, you can still recoup some of your investment. Cancel For Any Reason Coverage, or CFAR is designed to help in this case. It can be included in your trip insurance plan or may be purchased as an optional add-on benefit to your trip insurance policy. CFAR will provide you some reimbursement for prepaid trip expenses and deposits.  COVID cancellations are not typically covered under the basic trip cancellation benefit. While the CFAR benefit can help you in most situations, it is important to note that it must be purchased within 20 days of the initial trip deposit. In most cases, it will generally only reimburse you up to 75%.

Before you travel

We’ve included a list of important websites to assist you with making your decision to travel:

Certain travel insurance plans can provide you with comprehensive COVID-19 (coronavirus) coverage. Let our isure representatives assist you to find the best COVID-19 coverage to give you the peace of mind you’re looking for when travelling.

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