Countries around the world continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The continuing crisis brings chaos and uncertainty to the travel sector as countries have different approaches to border control and containing the virus.
In Canada, the message remains crystal clear: a Level 3 government advisory warns Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. Some countries are under a Level 4 advisory, warning people to avoid all travel (even essential) to limit the spread of the virus.
Despite that warning, some companies are beginning to sell travel insurance that includes coverage for COVID-19. If travel is restricted, how can some insurers sell this type of coverage? It is a question many Canadians may be asking themselves.
Can Canadians Travel?
Canada’s borders are closed to all but essential travelers entering the country, so tourists looking ahead to a winter vacation here may need to make other plans. For Canadians who are eager to travel abroad and do so despite the government’s travel advisory, they are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning. They may have trouble re-entering the country and could be left at their destination for an indeterminate period. It is also worth noting the government’s existing travel advisory applies to visiting the U.S.
Travel Insurance and COVID-19
With travel off-limits for most Canadians, what does this mean for travel insurance? For those who must travel, insurance coverage remains essential. Travel insurance is not mandatory, but is a wise investment for any kind of trip, whether it’s a vacation or not.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, many traditional travel insurance policies are insufficient since most do not provide coverage for a pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic presents a unique risk that a standard travel insurance policy will not cover. Many insurers stopped selling their travel insurance products when the pandemic struck, but now, some are reinstating their individual coverage options with coverage for COVID-19 included. However, the plans vary, and not all policies may cover expenses if you must quarantine in another country.
It seems some insurers are preparing for the future when the government relaxes its travel rules even if the coronavirus remains a reality of day-to-day life.
In September, Air Canada announced new complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance for round-trip international bookings. Underwritten by Manulife, the coverage offers mitigation for COVID-related emergencies and quarantine costs.
Blue Cross pulled its travel insurance sales in Ontario and Quebec back in March. Now, the company has re-opened sales for individual travelers that includes COVID-19 coverage. According to the provider, customers must show they do not have any coronavirus symptoms in the 14 days before leaving Canada.
What Happens If I Travel?
The Canadian government’s advisory is not stopping anyone from travelling abroad. However, it is clear if you do decide to travel, it is at your own risk. Canadians who travel abroad for non-essential reasons while the advisory remains in place may also risk having an insurance claim rejected.
Most other countries have travel restrictions in place that include quarantine requirements for incoming travelers. While some nations are cautiously opening borders to Canadian tourists, there are no guarantees you will be able to return, and Canada’s government will no longer offer repatriation flights. That means if you ignore the government’s travel advisory and visit another nation, you may be stranded overseas.