As cases of COVID-19 increase around the world, COVID-19 is in the news daily and many people have questions related to their travel plans. Here are some answers from the Travel Health Insurance Association.
Will travel insurance cover me if I’m affected by the COVID-19 corona virus?
Generally, travel insurance is of two main types: medical and trip cancellation/interruption. Medical will provide coverage should you get injured or sick while travelling. Benefits will include payment for medical costs associated with the emergency along with monitoring of your condition.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption will provide protection for the investment you have made for your trip. This will include protection if you need to cancel your trip before you go, due to a covered risk. This could mean a sickness or injury preventing you from travelling or any number of other reasons for not being able to go on that trip. You would also be able to cancel your trip should the destination be the subject of a travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada to “Avoid All Travel” or “Avoid Non-Essential Travel”. These are the two highest advisories issued by the Canadian Government.
It is important to note that many travel service providers—including airlines—will generally make exceptions to cancellation rules during an outbreak like the one we are experiencing with COVID-19. It is also important to note that the advisory must be in place on the date of travel, so if you have a trip in the future, you may need to wait until closer to the date to determine if a claim may be made on a policy.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance also includes coverage should your trip be interrupted while you are away. This could mean the death of a family member or an event like being quarantined. There could be additional costs associated with a missed flight or other additional costs after being released from a quarantine that may be covered under a travel insurance plan.
Under Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance, if I am denied boarding my flight due to a “fever” detected at the airport, will I be able to claim?
All policies differ, but the general rule is that if you are prevented from going on a trip due to a medical condition, your trip cancellation/interruption travel insurance will provide cover for the non-refundable costs associated with the cancellation. Naturally, this would be subject to you not being sick when you purchased the coverage (or within the stability period of the policy).
If I am quarantined, will travel insurance help?
In addition to having a team of people able to relay messages to family members, travel insurance will be able to help if you have missed your flight when released and need to get home. If you have purchased trip cancellation/interruption insurance, it may also help with any non-refundable and unused portions of your trip when you were placed in quarantine, as long as a quarantine was listed as a covered risk. As with any policy, it is important to read the coverage and make sure you understand the coverage that you have.
If I am booked to go to a country that has an “Avoid All Travel” or “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” travel advisory from the Canadian Government, can I cancel?
If you have purchased trip cancellation coverage, you will be able to cancel your trip, as long as the travel advisory is active on your departure date and you purchased the coverage prior to the travel advisory being issued. It is also important to note that airlines and other travel providers are providing exceptions to their penalties as COVID-19 cases increase globally. The travel insurance policy only covers non-refundable costs associated with the cancellation of your travel plans.
I have March Break travel plans, should I cancel?
All travellers should be aware that there are health risks when you travel. It is important to check your destination before you leave to know the risks and to be prepared. The Government of Canada advises that while you are away, and when you return, it is important to monitor your health. If you become sick while travelling, call ahead to a health professional to explain your symptoms. If you become sick upon your return, call your local Public Health Authority for further instructions before going to a medical office or an emergency department. This will allow healthcare providers to prepare for your visit and protect other patients. For more information from the Government of Canada, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html