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How Does Travel Insurance Work During COVID-19?

James Battiston

Travelling during the pandemic is complicated. With constantly changing restrictions, travel rules, and mandates, planning for a trip requires you to consider variables you never would have in the past.

Travel insurance is always a good idea when taking a trip, but does it cover COVID-19 related incidents? What are the current rules and regulations regarding travel? Let’s take a look.

Canada’s current travel rules, restrictions and recommendations

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, the government of Canada is advising individuals to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada due to COVID-19.

If you do need to travel outside of Canada or interprovincially, the government provides detailed rules, recommendations and restrictions. 

  1. Submit information on ArriveCan: If you’re entering Canada, you must use ArriveCan to submit travel information. This includes your vaccination information, COVID test results, and contact details. Submitting this is mandatory, with few exceptions, and information must be submitted 72 hours before you arrive in Canada. This is a requirement regardless of how you will be travelling.
  2. If over the age of 12, provide proof of vaccination: In order to board a domestic or international flight, you must be fully vaccinated. If you have questions about which airports require proof of vaccination to board, consult the government’s website.
  3. Wear a mask and have no symptoms of COVID-19: If travelling by train or plane, wearing a mask is mandatory.
  4. Check up-to-date travel information: countries and provinces are always updating their requirements for entering and leaving their borders Different locations will have their own rules, restrictions, and regulations, so it is critical you verify what these are before travelling. 

REMEMBER: Be prepared to provide an up-to-date COVID test if travelling, and be ready to quarantine upon arrival at your destination if required. You could also be selected for random testing upon arriving back in Canada.

Does travel insurance cover COVID-19 incidents?

Travel insurance is important if you’re travelling outside of the country. When travelling during COVID-19, you’ll want to check with your insurance provider to determine if they provide coverage for pandemic related incidents.

Because the government of Canada has advised against non-essential travel, it may be more difficult to obtain insurance, and cancellation and interruption policies may be null and void.

Some specific pandemic-related things to ask your insurer before travelling are:

  • Do they provide coverage for COVID-related incidents?
  • Has their travel cancellation or interruption policy changed?
  • What non-COVID-19 related medical coverage do they provide?
  • Do they provide coverage for quarantine related costs?
  • How much of your trip will the travel insurance cover? Will it only apply to the flight or extend to your stay abroad as well?
  • What is the duration of your travel coverage?
  • Are there region-specific limits to your travel insurance?

The importance of purchasing travel insurance at this time

If you find yourself in a medical situation while abroad, you may be surprised by the associated costs.

Living in Canada, we’re lucky to have free health care, but travellers should be aware that all their costs might not be covered by your regular insurance while out of the country. Similarly, your provincial or territorial health coverage may only cover a small part, if any, of your health care costs.

If you end up in a hospital while abroad, you may face incredibly expensive costs that have to be paid upfront. And as the Canadian government’s website points out, there are countries that require individuals to have enough money or insurance coverage before they treat you.

Purchasing travel insurance provides protection against these costs. Not only do you get additional emergency medical and hospital care coverage, but companies also offer coverage for additional non-medical expenses, such as lost baggage and flight cancellations.

With the prominence of COVID-19, and the higher risks associated with travelling abroad, protecting yourself against loss makes sense.

Be aware that not all travel insurance providers provide equal protections, and that there are often a number of exclusions and limitations in policies. Compare travel insurance quotes and speak to insurance providers to determine if they offer the coverage you require.

The best travel insurance in Canada

Got travel plans? Get covered with a travel insurance policy customized to your needs at a great price.

What companies offer COVID-related travel insurance?

Trying to find the right insurance company for your needs can be tiresome. Here are some travel insurance companies that offer COVID related travel insurance, and some of what their policies include.

Manulife COVID-19 travel insurance 

Manulife offers a COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan that provides specific medical insurance for COVID-19 related medical conditions. It provides up to $1 million CAD (or $5 million CAD if fully vaccinated) per COVID-related situation and up to $5 million CAD for non-COVID situations.

If individuals purchased a Manulife Travel Insurance plan that has emergency medical benefits and travelled between October 21 and December 16, 2021, they will have the benefit of the existing COVID-19 coverage for the duration of their trip; they will not need to purchase the COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan.

TD COVID-19 travel insurance 

TD Travel Insurance Medical plan provides coverage for COVID-19 related medical expenses not covered by provincial health care if you are travelling within Canada. Similarly, if you travel to a country that is not listed as “avoid all travel” or “avoid all non-essential travel” before your departure, your coverage will apply. 

If you purchase the additional TD Trip Cancellation Insurance and Trip Interruption Insurance, you can also be eligible for that coverage provided the destination is not listed as “Avoid all travel” or “Avoid all non-essential travel” before your departure.

Blue Cross COVID-19 travel insurance 

The Emergency Medical Care benefit provides coverage for COVID-19, Omicron, and its other variants. If, however, COVID is considered a pre-existing condition prior to departure, you will not be covered. Their policy does not generally cover quarantine-related expenses.

CAA COVID-19 travel insurance 

CAA Travel Insurance provides coverage up to $2.5 million CAD for individuals that are partially vaccinated and $5 million CAD for those who are fully vaccinated should they experience COVID-19 related illness while travelling. It is important to note that this coverage is only applicable if an “Avoid non-essential travel” or “Avoid all travel” warning has not been issued for the place to where you are travelling before your departure.

Goose Insurance COVID-19 travel insurance

Goose Insurance also offers an annual travel insurance package for COVID related costs – including hospitalization and physician services, ambulance and repatriation services, and 24-hour emergency assistance – whether you’re travelling internationally or within Canada. You can recieve up to $500,000 of coverage per trip and be covered for unlimited trips of 30 days and under. 

The bottom line

When considering travel, be sure to review the travel restrictions in place and any adversaries that are in effect. Purchasing travel insurance, while not required, is highly advisable in these unpredictable times. Be sure to speak with your travel insurance provider to determine if they provide COVID-19 related coverage.

NOTE: The following information is up to date as of February 8, 2022. 

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