COVID 19 and Travel Insurance - The Facts

COVID 19 and Travel Insurance - The Facts

With the most recent confirmation that the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed for non-essential travel until September 21, and possibly postponed to a later date. Questions have been raised about the impact of this closure on our travel habits in the United States in the coming months.

As of August 17, COVID-19 continues to be our topic of conversation, particularly with regard to travel and trips. The result is that despite the context many people show interest in future travel, but COVID-19 raises questions about travel insurance. What type of coverage will be available? Am I covered if the government's warnings remain in effect? What is the impact of the pandemic on travel insurance? Here are some important thoughts to consider when choosing your travel insurance if you are planning a trip in the coming months.

The importance and consequence of government warnings

The fact that the government has issued an advisory to avoid non-essential travel for the United States is very important because it has a direct impact on exclusions from your travel insurance. As you probably know, the fine print of an insurance policy makes the difference between a risk that will be covered or simply excluded. Currently, most travel insurance policies in Canada exclude any COVID-19 coverage as long as the Canadian government maintains its notice to avoid non-essential travel to the United States. A very limited number offer protection for COVID-19, so you have to be very careful with the definitions in travel insurance contracts in relation to the various warnings in place by the Canadian government. There are 4 levels of risk notifications and warnings that represent the official measure of the security of a destination, country, or a region. They are designated by the government as follows:

  1. Exercise normal security precautions
  2. Exercise a high degree of caution
  3. Avoid non-essential travel
  4. Avoid all travel

As previously mentioned, the Canadian government's opinion for the United States is at Level 3 due to COVID-19, which automatically results in an exclusion in the majority of travel insurance contracts for anything directly or indirectly related to the pandemic. You will agree that it would be risky to travel with such an exclusion because the impact on your health could be very significant, not to mention the financial aspect. Unfortunately, too often we hear from the people mentioned that if they get sick, they will take the first available flight to return home. However, have you thought that no airline will want to accept a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 and also several air ambulance companies are hesitant to carry passengers affected by the virus due to the high risk of contagion. A bill for a COVID-19 hospitalization could easily reach half a million dollars. In short, it would be really unsafe to travel now without adequate coverage for COVID-19. We recommend caution and be very vigilant because currently some insurance companies pride themselves on covering COVID-19, however the coverage in question is based on the principle that the government will eventually change its Level 3 warning to the United States because the exclusion is still present in the policy wording. Very important point to note is that the exclusion in travel insurance policies is related to your departure date. For example, you are leaving your home province for a trip to Florida from November 15 to March 15 and at that time the Level 3 notice is still present so you will not be covered for COVID-19 for the duration of the trip even if the government removed the notice of non-essential travel on December 1st.. These are important details that can have significant consequences for your emergency health care and also from a financial perspective in the event of a claim.

What options are available for COVID-19

I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that currently to our knowledge, a limited number of insurance companies are offering full coverage despite the governmental warning. They currently offer coverage for COVID-19 even though the government's’ “Avoid non-essential travel” notice is in place on the effective date of coverage. It is very likely that other insurers will follow suit soon and we are closely monitoring the situation for you, but at this time, in the context of a government opinion, a very limited number of insurers stand out in the market by not excluding COVID-19 for emergency hospital coverage. Of course, to be eligible for this protection you should not have been diagnosed or developed symptoms of COVID-19 in the 3 or 6 months prior to the departure date depending on the product. As you can see the fine print commonly referred to in insurance policies are of extreme importance and that is why we strongly recommend dealing with an insurance broker specializing in the field of travel insurance. It is important to note that it does not cost more to use the services of an insurance broker and at this time more than ever with a situation that evolves practically from day to day, a broker will be your best asset to ensure that you will be able to travel with the tranquility of knowing that you have good insurance.

Tricks and tips for insurance

There is nothing preventing us from currently purchasing travel insurance, which has full coverage for COVID-19. The price is good? Why not take advantage of it because you are not at risk, as you can always cancel your insurance policy with no penalty before your departure date.

Buy now and save before the rate changes. It is a fact that the majority of insurers will make a rate change in the coming weeks, without necessarily being related to COVID-19 but because it is the annual revision of their rates.

Avoiding administrative costs

Some products will charge you $25 or even $50 in case of cancellation for non-departure or even in case of date changes. Buying now, like mentioned above, will certainly save you but educate yourself about hidden fees in order to avoid them with policies that do not carry this type of penalty.

Is your birthday is approaching? Happy Birthday! Another year is added, travel insurance pricing will also adjust to the increase of course. Avoid the increase by subscribing before your birthday.

A year-round plan to save you money.

Not sure what your dates are? How many days will you be able to travel? Subscribe to an annual plan allowing you to travel whenever you want without having to confirm your departure and return dates for each trip. This plan is good for one year and allows you to travel as many times as you want, if you do not exceed the number of days subscribed. The borders will most likely open soon so the government's advice not to travel will be removed and as a result getting your travel insurance will have saved you money. If you are short of days, no problem! You just must add the number of missing days to your annual plan. Subscribe now and choose an effective date later in the fall so you can take advantage of the current rates.

More than ever, it is important to deal with an insurance broker who specializes in travel insurance. The latter can help you to see clearly through the clauses, exclusions, and limitations of the various products on the market.

If you wish to take out travel insurance and take advantage of the current rates, rest assured that with Sonomad you benefit from our 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you must cancel for any reason including COVID-19, your premium will be fully refunded to you without administrative fees, without penalty, and without any questions.

Follow the latest news on the impact of COVID-19 and travel insurance on our website and various social media. In the meantime, for any questions or requests for additional information, please contact us at 1-855-221-4555.