Covid-19 has deeply affected the travel industry and insurance is not the exception.
Although the situation is slowly going back to normal, the pandemic has left an indelible print in travel insurance.
In this section you will find information regarding the most important changes brought about by Covid-19 affecting travel insurance:
- Emergency medical
- Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption
- Airline credits and Travel Vouchers
The information below describes a common ground to the Canadian travel insurance industry. There are important differences to be considered between insurance providers.
Travel insurance is very specific to the insurer, the type of product you purchase, the covered trip and the insured itself. Information circulating among friends, family, etc., might be true for them, but not for you. Please contact your insurance company or a travel insurance expert to get specific and tailored advice on your coverage.
Emergency Medical travel insurance
Is COVID covered?
Yes. Most insurance companies now consider Covid to be just another medical condition covered by the policy subject to regular conditions and exclusions.
Covid-19 is now being covered with the usual emergency medical benefits such as:
- Doctor’s fees
- Prescription drugs
- Repatriation back to Canada
For a full list of benefits under Emergency Medical insurance, refer to your policy wording or ask your travel insurance advisor.
Some insurance companies have made the Covid-19 vaccine a condition for coverage, while other cover it regardless of vaccination status.
Most Canadian insurers cover Covid medical emergencies while travelling within Canada and only apply the vaccination condition when travel is outside of Canada.
Exceptions to vaccination status due to age, medical conditions, availability of the vaccine, etc. might be considered by an insurer. Consult with your travel insurance expert to get personalized advice.
Emergency medical travel insurance for Visitors to Canada, International Students, Tourists, Immigrants, etc. will also cover Covid-19 when the insured person is healthy and has no symptoms prior to purchasing the insurance.
¡ Vaccination status does not affect coverage for medical emergencies that are completely unrelated to Covid-19.
Stability of a medical condition is still the number one exclusion to look for in emergency medical travel insurance.
Your policy wording must contain the stability applying specifically to Covid, if there is one. For example: some insurers might require that you have not had Covid 30 days before your trip and do not present any Covid-like symptoms on or within 14 days of your departure.
Other carriers will just require you to meet for Covid the same stability applicable to any other pre-existing medical condition, i.e., 3, 6 or 12 months depending on different variables, as per the insurer’s definition of stable.
Premium refunds for unused days on your coverage are available with most companies if no claim has been or will be submitted to the policy and if you produce proof of the date of your return to Canada.
Refunds are handled by the selling agent or broker. If you purchased directly through the insurance company (Customer Service or on-line) you will have to contact the insurer directly.
Your boarding pass or passport stamp showing the date you entered Canada is acceptable proof of return. If you cross the border by land and have no stamp on your passport, a proof of a purchase made in Canada with the same credit card used to pay for the insurance will usually suffice.
Customer Service lines are sometimes receiving higher than usual call volumes so don’t be surprised if you have to wait even a couple of hours to speak to a Claims agent. Unfortunately, brokers cannot assist you in this case.
If you purchased through a broker, he or she had to provide you with the wallet card showing the emergency numbers to dial in the event of a claim or emergency. You must speak to a Claims representative from the insurance company regarding a claim or emergency.
Visit your insurance company website to check if you can submit your claim online or via email. If not, just be patient and call until you get an agent on the phone.
Be sure to have all original receipts for medical expenses you incurred in while on your trip and to fill in all the Claims forms required, do not forget to sign the forms!
Incomplete files will be returned and you will only delay your reimbursement. Consult your policy wording or your insurer’s website to get more information on how to submit a claim.
Read more about Emergency medical insurance.
Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance
Is Covid covered?
Not always. It depends on the insurer.
Some insurers are now offering what is called CFAR coverage which stands for “Cancel for any reason”, meaning exactly you can cancel for any reason and you will be covered.
Note to the wise: The CFAR coverage will only cover a portion of you travel costs, usually 50% and it is a somewhat expensive coverage that cannot be purchased as a stand-alone plan, it has to be purchased as an additional coverage to a Trip Cancellation/Interruption or Trip Interruption only travel insurance policy.
Trip Cancellation insurance will reimburse the loss of pre-paid and non-refundable travel costs like airfare, rental of an AirBnB, etc. if you get sick with Covid and cannot leave on your trip.
Trip Interruption insurance will cover quarantine expenses limited to a maximum amount per person or per family for meals and accommodation when you have to self-isolate due to Covid and cannot come back home. This benefit is paid via reimbursement so you have to pay first and file a claim later. Trip Interruption will also cover the cost of a one-way economy air ticket to come back to your original point of departure
¡ Remember Trip Cancellation covers what you paid and cannot get back in case you cancel your trip before departure. Trip Interruption covers the costs you incur if you have to interrupt your trip after departure to come back home earlier or later than your planned return date.
You or your travelling companion must test positive for Covid.
If you do not have a positive Covid-test showing the traveller’s name and the date of the test, your claim can be denied.
Your insurer might refuse to accept as proof the result from a Rapid Antigen Test Kit done at home or a hotel room. Most likely, the test accepted is the one performed by a professional laboratory or medical facility.
Non-medical Covid-related events like job loss, borders closing at your destination, flight cancelled due to Covid, etc. are not covered by regular Trip Cancellation/Interruption Travel Insurance.
Trip Cancellation insurance is not refundable.
You can get a refund on the Trip Interruption premium, if purchased separately from Trip Cancellation, as long as you request the refund and cancel your policy before the effective, that is, before the date of departure.
Refunds are usually handled by the agent or broker you purchased the insurance from. Contact your selling agent; he or she will explain if you can apply for a refund, assist you with the request and detail the supporting documentation you need to provide.
As with Emergency medical, refunds for Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance are not available if a claim has been or will be submitted to the policy.
They can only be handled by your insurer’s Claims department.
You can contact them by calling at the numbers on the wallet card you were provided and in some cases, by email or through an online account; visit the website of your insurance company to see what options they offer to submit a claim.
Be sure to fill all the necessary forms and provide all requested documents. Incomplete files will be returned and the whole process will just be delayed.
Don’t forget to sign the forms! Check the “How to claim” section on your policy wording or contact an authorized Claims agent to get more information.
Read more about Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance.
Credits and Travel Vouchers
After a high volume of flights had to be canceled due to Covid-19, many airlines and tour operators started offering travel credits to be used on future trips instead of reimbursing clients the airfare.
The same happened with rentals, tours or excursions that had to be cancelled because of Covid, instead of giving people their money back, travellers where offered a voucher to be used at a later date.
Insurance companies consider these credits and vouchers as refunds which immediately invalidate a claim for trip cancellation.
- Loosing a flight or a rental date is not the same as loosing the money paid for airfare or a reservation.
With this principale in mind, it is easier to understand why you cannot make a claim on your travel insurance as long as you have been offered a voucher or travel credit by the airline or tour operator.
When opening a trip cancellation claim, you must present proof that your refund was denied by the airline or travel agency (tour operator).
If a voucher or travel credit was offered you must also get proof that you rejected the voucher or credit and that you won’t be able to use them in the future.