Travel insurance providers share their top Q&As for this stage of the pandemic

Travel insurance providers share their top Q&As for this stage of the pandemic

TORONTO — Some 700,000 Canadians flew back home from trips abroad in December 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

And no doubt at least 699,999 of them asked plenty of questions about travel insurance before they embarked on their trip.

Travel insurance is more top-of-mind than ever these days, almost two years into the pandemic.

Until the travel advisory lifted, after 20 months, the vast majority of Canadians were deferring their travel plans.

In fall 2021, when the advisory was dropped for two all-too-brief months, bookings ramped up.

And when the advisory came back in mid-December, there were cancellations, but many Canadians decided to push on with their travel plans regardless.

StatsCan’s December 2021 data shows the willingness of a growing number of Canadians to travel at this stage of the pandemic – especially as many anticipate COVID-19’s pandemic status evolving to endemic.

Meanwhile travel insurance, always a smart purchase, has become a must-buy and questions abound about coverage in cases of testing positive in-destination, trip cancellation coverage, and more.

A lot has changed since December 2020 when Travelweek first reached out to Manulife, Allianz Global Assistance and Ontario Blue Cross to get their top Q&As. We circled back with these insurance providers for the latest information in these early months of 2022. Below is a sampling of the Q&As; for more click here for the Jan. 27, 2022 issue of Travelweek.

MANULIFE

Manulife reminds travellers and agents to check travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for the latest information on travel advisories for Canadians. And for complete coverage information, agents and travellers are asked to read each policy for full terms, conditions and limitations.

Q. If I want to travel during the current ‘Avoid non-essential travel’ and ‘Avoid all cruise ship travel’ advisories, what plan(s) should I consider purchasing?

A. “The Manulife COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan offers emergency medical coverage for expenses related and unrelated to COVID-19, as well as quarantine benefits if you test positive while in destination. Cruise passengers must be fully vaccinated to be covered for COVID-19 related expenses on their trip. We also recommend that travellers be familiar with their destination’s entry requirements.

“In addition, travellers should also consider purchasing our Premium Protection Plan or Non-Medical Plan to protect their financial investment and other components of their trip.”

Q. What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 while in destination? What is covered?

A. “If you test positive for COVID-19 and need to extend your stay beyond your scheduled return date, the Manulife COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan’s quarantine benefits provide up to $200/day for meals and accommodations, as well as up to $500 for return airfare. The plan also includes up to $5 million for emergency medical expenses (both related and unrelated to COVID-19).”

ALLIANZ GLOBAL ASSISTANCE

Q. What are the added risks travelling during the pandemic and can I buy coverage for these situations?

A. “These days, most risks centre on contracting COVID-19, before or during a trip. Allianz Global Assistance recommends travellers review Government of Canada travel advisories and understand the risks for their destination. While it’s important to choose coverage based on individual needs, our COVID-19 Insurance and Assistance Plan offers additional emergency medical and trip interruption quarantine coverage for those needing to travel to destinations still under an advisory.”

Q. How do trip cancellation or trip interruption policies work while travel advisories are in place?

A. “In most cases, because COVID-19 remains what’s called a ‘known event’, any Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption claims related to any Government of Canada travel advisories connected to COVID-19 will not be payable.

“Trip Cancellation coverage will remain eligible if the traveller becomes ill due to COVID-19 in Canada before their departure and they need to cancel their trip as a result. Trip Interruption coverage is eligible if the traveller becomes ill due to COVID-19 while on their trip, and needs to interrupt their trip as a result, provided a COVID-19 travel advisory to avoid non-essential (Level 3) or avoid all travel (Level 4) was not in place on the effective date of coverage.”

ONTARIO BLUE CROSS

Q. Is the Omicron variant covered by my travel insurance?

A. “We would like to reassure all our clients regarding their travel insurance coverage. The Emergency Medical Care benefit covers COVID-19 and its variants, including Omicron, unless it is considered a pre-existing condition prior to departure.”

Q. Do you cover the costs for quarantine?

A. “Subsistence allowance does not cover the costs associated with a preventive or compulsory quarantine before returning to the country, on site or upon arrival at the destination. Subsistence allowance costs may be covered when a traveller must postpone their return due to a medical emergency, including a medical emergency related to COVID-19. A medical emergency involves the person suffering from serious symptoms that require medical attention and possibly repatriation. We do not cover the quarantine costs imposed when returning to the country.”

For more Q&As from Manulife, Allianz Global Assistance and Ontario Blue Cross, as well as input from  the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), click here for the Jan. 27, 2022 issue of Travelweek.