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Travel Insurance: What Happens During a Pandemic?

Those who follow me on Family Fun Canada and Family Fun Edmonton  know that I’m a big believer in travel insurance. It’s sensible peace of mind for just pennies on the dollar and can prevent financial ruin should you get sick or have a misadventure while abroad. But what happens to your travel insurance during a pandemic? These are unprecedented times for our globally connected world, and many travellers are searching for answers about if their travel insurance will cover trips they must cancel, or what happens if they decide to travel during the crisis. This blog will help provide the answers you need.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

If you purchased trip cancellation insurance when you booked your trip or vacation and now must cancel before embarking, expect the terms to be honoured by the underwriter. If you did not buy travel insurance but booked your trip using a credit card, check to see if the card you used has trip cancellation insurance as a built-in perk.



However, fine print is very key here. Ensure you call the right numbers and follow the right procedures when making your claim. Your credit card or travel insurance documents will have the steps you need to follow listed on their website or in a pamphlet.

Trip Interruption Insurance

Every underwriter that offers travel insurance has their own set of conditions. Claiming a benefit for having your trip interrupted by the pandemic will depend on those terms. Broadly speaking, however, the majority of underwriters are not only willing, able, and ready to honour the terms, some are going above and beyond to help Canadians get home.

For example, Manulife has released a statement summarizing their assistance for their travel insurance customers. Their assistance includes help for those delayed as they try to return to Canada. For details on your policy, check your insurance company’s website. Special COVID-19 related information is placed in easy-to-find locations on the site to ensure everyone can be quickly informed.

Booking Travel Now

If you are thinking, “Hey, this is a great time to book a vacation thanks to super low prices,” think again. Apart from the obvious irresponsibility of helping to spread the virus, you will not – and I reiterate – you will not be covered by travel insurance for any COVID-19 related issues should you book a vacation while the travel advisories are in effect.

Blue Cross is just one such insurer issuing a stern warning that “If you are travelling to a country with a COVID-19-related travel advisory, benefits will not be covered for a medical emergency that is related to a published formal travel advisory that is issued prior to your departure date.”

While you may feel young and healthy and ready to scoop up those sweet, sweet travel deals, please reconsider. You put yourself and others at great risk and will incur all the financial liability if you get sick or delayed due to COVID-19.

Fine Print Updates

Blue Cross also states, “If you purchase trip cancellation, interruption and baggage insurance on or after March 12, 2020, you will not have coverage for claims related to COVID-19—regardless of whether there was a travel ban or advisory published prior to travel. Effective March 12, 2020, COVID-19 is no longer being considered an unknown risk. COVID-19 is now considered a ‘known issue.’”

Expect similar warnings from other travel insurance companies. Insurance is about defraying unknown risks. COVID-19 is now considered a known risk, and therefore not subject to coverage.

Travel Insurance is Rapidly Evolving in the Wake of COVID-19

Since the call went out for Canadians to return home, travel insurance companies are reacting quickly. Some changes include losing travel insurance if you delay your return, and as mentioned above, many are now listing COVID-19 as a known risk.

How to Find the Information You Need

Calling your insurer could leave you with long wait times on the phone. The fastest way to get information on your specific policy and any changes to it is to visit the insurance company’s website. Also, follow your insurance company on Facebook. Information is being posted on their feeds.

Stay Safe Out There

The world has changed rapidly and while it may be hard to give up your current and planned trips, remember that the restrictions are in place to protect you, your loved ones, and the population’s most vulnerable. The sooner we all do our part in restricting our travel, the sooner we can beat COVID-19 and return to having adventures abroad.

Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.

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Due to COVID-19, travelling is not what it used to be. It is advisable to adhere to physical distancing requirements, ensure frequent hand washing, and wear a mask indoors when maintaining distances is not possible. See www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for more details.