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Does Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19 Related Costs?

Navigating travel during COVID is hard, here's what you need to know.

Pre-COVID-19, travel insurance protection was important, but during the pandemic, it’s essential. As restrictions ease across the country Canadians are starting to travel more, both domestically and internationally. 

But as the Government’s official travel advisory is still asking Canadians to limit non-essential trips. So, there’s much more to consider when it comes to travel insurance as we navigate our journeys during COVID-19. 

Not all travel insurance policies are equal, so there are a few things you should know before booking your getaway. Most importantly, how to protect yourself financially if COVID-19 disrupts your journey and what coverage you have for medical expenses if you get sick. 


Airline protection

Before you book check with the travel agent and the airline, ask about their policies and rules with flight cancellations due to COVID. Some airlines, such as West Jet, Sunwing, and travel agency Flight Centre, provide free COVID-19 medical coverage to passengers booking certain international flights and vacation packages. 

This can include emergency medical and hospital costs if you catch COVID-19 while on holiday. You also get quarantine accommodation costs if you test positive on your trip and repatriation costs in case of death due to COVID while on holiday. 

Ask your airline how to protect your money if you’re subject to COVID flight cancellation restrictions. Get your coverage in writing, too. Know what it includes, how many days before you travel will this be in effect, and the maximum money you could receive.


At the airport

Masking continues to be mandatory at all Canadian airports. Also, be ready to show documentation that you have both doses to board domestic flights.  

If travelling abroad, check with the country of destination about what their travel restrictions are and how to get a COVID-19 test before you travel back.  

Right now, to enter back into Canada all travellers five years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to enter Canada. This includes those who are fully vaccinated. This cannot be an antigen test, but one done through a nasal swab (rapid tests count). 


Companies offering COVID-19 travel insurance

If you’re travelling abroad during the pandemic, the Government of Canada recommends you check with your insurance provider about COVID-19 coverage.  Ask if you have coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses, non-COVID-19 emergency expenses, as well as trip interruption

The Government cautions that some insurance companies may offer COVID-19 medical expenses coverage, but they may not include protection for non-COVID-19 emergency expenses. 

For instance, who pays for the cost to quarantine if you get COVID-19 during your trip? What about insurance to pay for extended stays if you can’t return on your scheduled flight?

Some insurance providers, including Manulife,  Medipac, Tour+Med and Blue Cross (in Ontario and Quebec), are offering some form of coverage for emergency medical insurance and trip cancellation due to COVID-19 as part of their regular travel insurance plan or as a top-up to your existing coverage. 


READ: How to extend travel insurance during COVID


Credit card travel insurance

Trip cancellation is not automatically covered if you’re using your credit card travel insurance

For many travel credit cards, trip interruption and travel medical insurance coverage – typically features of your credit card – may no longer be in force because of the ongoing travel advisory.  

So, call your credit card company and understand the risks.  

You may require additional insurance to protect you against any extra medical expenses you incur while away if you’re travelling abroad. Thanks, COVID.


Getting COVID-19 before you leave

You must purchase trip cancellation insurance to have coverage if you can’t fly due to contracting COVID-19. When buying travel insurance, make sure you ask about cancellation insurance and up until what date you can cancel to get a full refund. Some insurance providers are now excluding COVID-19 related cancellations.


The bottom line

Meanwhile, if you are travelling outside of Canada, Canada is still under a travel advisory. It asks Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel and all cruise ships travel outside Canada until further notice.  So, be aware if you need to return to Canada for medical care, you may limit your options due to fewer available of flights.


*This information is up to date as of September 29 2021