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How I extended my travel insurance during Covid (and you can too)

Don’t want to pay to quarantine in a hotel when you get back? Why not extend your trip? Remote work has never been such a possibility before. It’s time to take advantage of the “Workation.”

My own story starts with the cancellation of my direct flight back to Canada from Curacao as Canada put in additional safety rules when flying home. My options soon became limited and involved only multi-city flights or a stopover flight through the United States.  That meant being retested, possibly staying over, and then succumbing to Canada’s Covid Hotel policies. That would cost me money, not something I was interested in doing.

Instead of flying back, it made sense for me to stay longer.  But this could only occur if I could extend my travel insurance, which I found out was not possible with my travel insurance policy. So, I looked into what options were available and am sharing my findings to help you if you want to travel and avoid the covid 19 hotel cost.

Can I extend my trip away during Covid?

Yes, there are options, but they are increasingly limited compared to what was available before Covid hit.

If you aren’t yet abroad, it’s easiest to purchase travel insurance covering Covid that is extendable. Research here is essential because you never want to be stuck out-of-country without medical insurance.

Fortunately, as a fellow Canadian, you can find my research and findings below.

First, know this, some travel insurance companies might only insure travellers from specific countries, especially if your country has a travel ban.

For instance, Canada has an “Avoid All Non-essential Travel” to all countries outside of Canada. Many companies like World Nomads, RBC, IMG Global and GMC will not cover Canadians abroad because of the ban.

Thankfully, some companies don’t have that clause in their travel insurance benefits. So, there is a Covid Rider (an add-on) with some medical insurance packages for those who need to travel.

Which companies offer COVID travel insurance?

1.   Hey Mondo

Yes, Hey Mondo covers you for Covid 19 travel. All travel insurance plans that you see on Hey Mondo’s website cover medical assistance even in Coronavirus’s event. This is regardless of any government recommendations or travel advisories.

After purchasing a policy, you’ll receive an email with a COVID-19 Coverage Certificate along with your standard travel policy in case you need to show it to the authorities anywhere in the world.

You can also extend your insurance if you purchased their “Long Stay Policy.” If not, no problem, you can buy another trip policy on their platform while abroad.

The only insurance that allows you to extend your coverage is Hey Mondo’s Long Stay insurance which covers up to a maximum of 12 consecutive months abroad. However, If you have another type of single trip insurance, you can still extend coverage. But it will require a new policy altogether.

Note: do so at least three days before the old policy expires. There is a 72 hour “grace period” until your new policy takes effect when buying when you’re already abroad.

2.   Safety Wing

As of August 1st, Safety Wing has been covering Covid 19 travel with their Nomad insurance policy. Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your departure. It also won’t cover anything that doesn’t fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation.

If you don’t have insurance abroad, Safety Wing allows you to buy insurance when you are not in your home country with no waiting period. There is no waiting period for their nomad insurance. Coverage starts as soon as you are outside your home country and payment is accepted.

If you need to extend your coverage, it’s as simple as emailing [email protected] with your desired end date.

3. Medipac

Medipac does cover Covid 19 as part of their coverage. For many Canadians, travel is essential, as is proper coverage for medical emergencies, including those related to COVID-19.

Suppose you currently have travel insurance with another company that is expiring. In that case, you can top up that insurance with Medipac, which is also pretty sweet, especially if you’re in a jam.

Also, know that Medipac’s policies are extendable. You must apply and receive approval at least 3 days before your scheduled return date (or at least 3 days before the date your trip ends). Standard rules and restrictions apply, such as being in good health or medical conditions.

4. Tour+Med

Tour+Med has a covid 19 rider (add-on) to their regular insurance

Their travel insurance covers you up to $5,000,000 in the event of a medical emergency. Adding the COVID-19 Rider to your policy protects you if you test positive for COVID-19 while on your trip, no matter the travel advisories (so long as they do involve COVID-19).

I called Tour+Med, who said I needed to be in Canada at the start of my insurance coverage.

Tour+Med does allow you to extend your insurance depending on the Covid Status of the country. Do so at least 5 days before the expiration of your policy.

5. Blue Cross

With Blue Cross, Covid is already covered in their travel health insurance as long as your contract is still in effect.

However, given health authority recommendations, Blue Cross strongly recommends avoiding non-essential travel outside your province of residence.

You can’t get blue cross insurance if you already left the country. But you can extend coverage if you’re currently abroad.  Call them at 1-855-599-5050 to find out if you are eligible for a policy extension.

6. Tugo

You can add Covid coverage to Tugo travel insurance. It includes COVID-19 emergency medical insurance and related quarantine expenses, and a Trip Interruption benefit. That’s in case the Government of Canada’s travel advisory changes to a Level 4 (aka avoid all travel) during your trip, and you choose to come home early.

You cannot get Tugo insurance after you have left your country. However, you can get an extension before your current policy expires, though an administration fee may apply.  There may also be an increase to your premium for the additional number of days required.

7. Manulife

Manulife insurance covers Covid under their CoverME plan. It covers both covid-19 related and non-related emergency medical costs with their trip interruption coverage.

Their plan is also extendable. You can add extra days while you’re travelling so long as your current health status hasn’t changed. Give them a call at 1-877-268-3763 before your coverage expires and pay the updated premiums. If you’re travelling to multiple cities and have a multi-trip plan

The bottom line

A lot of the familiar insurance options are not purchasable. At the same time, the Canadian government has an Avoid All Non-Essential Travel to every country. For the available insurance, know that you’ll have more choices and options before leaving the country versus after you have left.

If you’re choosing insurance before leaving Canada, pick one that is extendable as travel rules change rapidly. This is especially true if you have an underlying condition that might make you ineligible to the many general health insurance providers.

If you find yourself in a position like me with no direct flights and no cheap stopover or cheap multi-city flights. It’s still possible to get travel insurance, but your options are limited. The best advice I can give is to check your current insurance details and try to match them to what is available.

For me, I got lucky. My parents have friends with an empty vacation property in Florida. So, I left Curacao, landed in Florida, got both my vaccine doses and will enjoy the hot weather and avoid Canada’s covid hotel policies.