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Travel Insurance & Covid-19

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Travel Insurance Covid-19

Travelling is an exciting adventure. You have probably been counting down the days until your next trip to see the world, visit your family abroad, or simply get away from everyday life. But as COVID-19 continues to disrupt our every-day lives, you are probably considering cancelling or postponing your trip and may have questions concerning your travel insurance coverage. If you’re out of the country right now wondering how your travel insurance can help you, keep reading! Whether you’re currently travelling, trying to get back home, or having to face cancelling your trip, this blog will provide you with some points to consider in taking your next steps with your travel insurance & Coronavirus.

It’s important to note that this situation is changing on a daily basis, so it is crucial to keep up to date with the latest news and updates from the government of Canada.

CHECK TRAVEL ADVISORIES BEFORE YOU GO

If you're like me, you live to travel and explore new places. Sometimes that sense of adventure will take us to unsafe places. I can think of a trip I took where I was caught on a city street where a huge protest (non-violent) was happening, and, while I tried to keep my distance, I still second-guessed whether it was wise to be there. Thankfully nothing eventful happened, however, I came to find out that the Canadian Travel Advisory website indicated that this country was indeed, experiencing protest and civil unrest and to practice a high degree of caution. I should have known better.

You may be excited for your next adventure, but it’s always important to check Canada’s Travel Advisory website before you start planning or booking your trip. Be sure to check any countries you may be visiting to see if it’s the right decision to travel. If advisories are put in effect after you book your trip and you have purchased trip cancellation insurance, you may be eligible to make a claim.

While the situation related to COVID-19 is changing daily, as of March 14, 2020, the Canadian government has advised against all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Until this travel-ban is lifted, your trip may need to be cancelled or postponed. Canada is also urging all Canadians to return home as soon as possible. Many countries have put travel or border restrictions as well as movement restrictions and quarantines to limit the spread of COVID-19. Airlines are suspending flights, airports are closing, exit bans are becoming frequent. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside Canada longer than expected.

WHAT IS TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE AND HOW CAN IT HELP ME WITH COVID-19?

Life is full of unexpected disruptions, and that’s what Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance is for. Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance will help to reimburse non-refundable, prepaid travel arrangements that cannot be recovered from another source if you must cancel your trip before the scheduled departure. This can also apply if your trip is interrupted while you’re away. Trip Cancellation Insurance is available to cover a single trip or can also be purchased to cover multiple trips.

Some events that this type of insurance might cover are:

  • unexpected sickness/injury or death
  • a natural disaster that makes your home or business unliveable
  • travel advisories (such as COVID-19, political unrest)
  • travel visa denial
  • job loss
  • cancelled flight or missed connection due to weather
  • pregnancy complications

Each travel insurance carrier is different, so be sure to review the policy wording with your broker to know for how much you will be covered and which situations they will cover.

CAN I GET HOME WITH MY TRAVEL INSURANCE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK?

The Canadian government is urging Canadians to return to Canada as soon as possible! This is where Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance can be of assistance to get you home and help cover the cost. It’s important to note that this will be dependent on your travel dates in relation to travel advisories that have been released.

If you are currently abroad:

  • Contact your travel insurance provider to see if you are covered and to receive next steps.
  • Contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in the country where you are requesting their assistance.

If your insurer is unable to provide coverage in this situation due to your policy wording, the Canadian government is also offering additional repayable loans of up to $5000 to those who are trying to get home.

Be advised that should you choose to continue your trip ignoring the recommendations from Canadian travel advisories and your insurance provider, you will likely not be covered for any medical expenses related to COVID-19 as well as any other illness or injury.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET SICK WHILE AWAY?

Depending on your situation, there are a few steps you should take:

  1. If you become ill while you are away, the first step is to contact your travel insurance provider. They will instruct you with the next steps depending on your symptoms. In certain countries there might be limited healthcare availability and so you may be urged to return home.
  2. 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. 
  3. If you are currently quarantined abroad, consult your insurance carrier to see what is available to you.

I PURCHASED TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE BEFORE MARCH – AM I STILL COVERED FOR MY UPCOMING TRIP?

If you are looking to cancel your trip, you should contact your broker and ask them questions like this:

  • 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?

Depending on your departure date, you may need to wait until closer to your scheduled trip date to make a claim, especially with the amount of cases that have arisen due to COVID-19. You will likely be advised to contact the airlines, cruise lines, and tour providers to see what refunds and credits they will offer you.

As long as travel-bans are in effect, we encourage you to heed the instructions of the Canadian government to limit all non-essential travel. At Billyard Insurance Group, we want to ensure your health and safety while providing you excellent service. If you are in any of the above described situations, please contact your broker so that we can see how your Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance can help you at this time.