Air Canada, Sunwing add COVID insurance as coalition urges CEWS extension for industry

Air Canada, Sunwing add COVID insurance as coalition urges CEWS extension for industry

TORONTO — The travel industry is rallying as never before, with two major players – Air Canada and Sunwing – adding their names to a growing list of suppliers offering COVID-19 insurance coverage.

Meanwhile a new travel industry group, dubbed the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB), held a press conference today at the Fairmont Laurier near Parliament Hill, calling on the federal government to extend CEWS for the travel and tourism sectors.

These latest moves come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians considering heading south to the U.S. for the winter “will have to seriously think about their choices.”

Speaking at a media conference yesterday, the Prime Minister was asked about reports that the Canada-U.S. border will stay closed until at least Oct. 21, and possibly into November and beyond.

“Our priority remains the safety of our citizens,” said Trudeau, adding that one of the ways is by maintaining the closure of the border except to non-essential travel. He added that Canadians who normally head south to the U.S. for the winter “will have to seriously think about their choices.”

An Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 poll of Canadians by Research Co. suggests that a strong majority, up to 90%, are in favour of keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed for the time being. For travel to destinations other than the U.S., however, there have been calls to work towards a more specific system of travel corridors and restrictions, with some of the strongest messaging coming from the #TimeToTravel group of industry leaders.

Meanwhile the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB), which includes TIAC, Canadian Hotel Association, Indigenous Tourism Association Canada, Festivals & Major Events Canada and ACTA, pressed Ottawa today for an extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) at the full 75% rate for businesses facing an ongoing revenue decline of 50% or higher, and to extend the program until spring/summer 2021.

“Keeping the [CEWS] subsidy at 75% is critical,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada. 

More coverage from the CHHB press conference will run in tomorrow’s Travelweek Daily.

All this comes on the heels of both Air Canada and Sunwing announcing new COVID-19 insurance coverage, both with Manulife. ACV announced its coverage with Allianz Global Assistance on Aug. 31 and WestJet announced coverage with TuGo on Sept. 11, plus Manulife itself came out with its coverage news on Sept. 16.

 

A HOT-BUTTON ISSUE

A hot-button issue since the start of the pandemic, COVID-related travel insurance has largely been unobtainable for Canadians due to the federal government’s ongoing advisory against non-essential travel.

But with major industry players unveiling insurance plans in recent weeks, not to mention a growing number of hotels and destinations offering their own COVID-related coverage, the newly announced plans from Sunwing and Air Canada will help to protect Canadians on a much wider scale.

“As travel begins to restart, Sunwing wants to ensure Canadians can travel responsibly,” says Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing. “Our new complimentary COVID-19 Coverage will help our customers get back to the tropics. This is an added layer to our existing ‘Safe with Sunwing’ commitment, which includes new health and safety measures to give customers peace of mind throughout their entire vacation journey.”

Air Canada’s Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, adds: “At Air Canada, we know people have personal, family and business reasons to travel. To give them greater confidence as they do so, we have engaged Manulife to offer all Canadian residents complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance when they book roundtrip flights for travel outside of Canada. Combined with our industry-leading airport and onboard biosafety protocols, including Air Canada CleanCare+, and our flexible rebooking policies, customers can be assured that when they book and travel with Air Canada, their safety and well-being is our top priority.”

 

SUNWING & AIR CANADA’S NEW COVERAGE

Here’s an overview of the new insurance plans from Sunwing and Air Canada:

SUNWING

Sunwing has partnered with Manulife to offer the COVID-19 Emergency Medical Certificate of Insurance at no additional cost to customers. It is included in all Sunwing vacation packages (excluding cruises) and air-only bookings with Sunwing Airlines (for a duration of 21 days or less) made between now and Oct. 31, 2020 for departures from Oct. 16, 2020 up to and including May 31, 2021.

The plan includes, but is not limited to, medical consultations, specialty care, hospital admittance, surgery, cost of air ambulance if medically necessary and intensive care, and is supported by medical assistance at all Sunwing resorts.

With the plan, Sunwing customers will be eligible for a total of $200,000 in medical insurance covering expenses related to a positive COVID-19 test result. Quarantine costs, including meals and accommodations, will also be covered with up to $150 per day for an individual, and up to $300 per day for a family, for a maximum of up to 14 days and a total of $4,200 in quarantine costs. The coverage also includes $500 in interruption insurance coverage should the Government of Canada’s travel advisory for international destinations move from Level 3 to Level 4.

The full policy can be read here.

AIR CANADA

Air Canada’s complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical & quarantine insurance, underwritten by Manulife, is available to eligible customers booking roundtrip international flights. It applies to new bookings made in Canada from Sept. 17 until Oct. 31, 2020, inclusive, for travel completed by April 12, 2021.

If, when abroad, eligible customers test positive for COVID-19, the plan will provide coverage that includes:

  • Up to $200,000 per insured for COVID-19 treatment medical expenses
  • Up to $150 per person for quarantine costs (meals + accommodation); up to $300 per family per day, up to a maximum of 14 days
  • Up to $500 for expenses related to return home if the advisory from the Canadian government goes from Level 3 to Level 4 while at destination

The plan is available to all Canadian residents, subject to eligibility requirements, and is considered the most extensive geographical coverage included by a Canadian airline for Canadian residents, covering every international destination Air Canada serves.

For full details click here.