The impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on your travel insurance

Insurance

Author’s Note: This post was written in March 2020 and the situation has rapidly evolved; as such, the contents may not be relevant at the time of viewing.

A lot of people have been cancelling trips due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases all over the world. A few travel insurance companies such as Allianz have announced that they will no longer be covering coronavirus-related trip cancellations to any destination.

At the same time, we are seeing flight costs plummet. You might be tempted to travel in these circumstances despite the risks posed.

Travel insurance is intended to cover unforeseeable incidents unknown to you when purchasing your insurance. Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been declared by travel insurance companies as a known issue and will no longer be covered for policies purchased on or after March 11, 2020.

Here are some things you should know before going on that flight:

• The risk of COVID-19 is much higher in settings such as cruise ships, heavily affected areas, and large gatherings in enclosed spaces. It is recommended to avoid places where you cannot distance yourself from others if you get sick.• 75% of cases are travellers and 10% are close contacts of those travellers. Being inside airports and planes is most especially a concern due to the fact that you are in contact with and breathing the same air as crowds from all over the world. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, a passenger aboard a flight infected people more than two rows away.

• Travellers must remain cautious as the coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic and an international public emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has reported over 150,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths as of March 15, 2020.

To stop the epidemic from getting worse, Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that Canada will be closing its borders to non-citizens and non-permanent residents. He also said that anyone with symptoms, including citizens, will not be able to come to Canada.

Contact a PrimeService agent at 905-886-7277 if you would like to review your travel insurance policy with an expert.

Here are some useful tips to make sure you got all your bases covered if you really must travel.

Check the Government of Canada travel advisories

The Government of Canada advises to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. The Canadian federal government’s travel advisories includes the level of precaution you must exercise for each country. Besides providing advisories for each country, it also provides information on how to stay safe when travelling, what to do upon returning to Canada, avoiding cruise ships at all costs, and lots of other very useful information on staying protected.

Get medical insurance

It is always advisable to get medical insurance especially during the coronavirus outbreak. Some insurance policies will cover your medical expenses if you ever get infected by the virus as long as you did not catch it in a country that is in Canada’s travel advisory list. The situation is rapidly changing however and this coverage may not exist just a few days from now.

Check with your travel provider

If you previously planned a trip that has to be cancelled, contact your travel provider. Some providers may allow customers to cancel a trip and receive a refund or change the travel dates if the destination has been affected by the coronavirus. Airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, and Sunwing are allowing changes to flights booked during a specific period in March 2020 without having to pay a fee.

Bring your travel insurance coverage documents when travelling

Make sure you have your travel insurance coverage information with you at all times while travelling. The important details you need are your plan details, policy number, and emergency travel assistance phone numbers.

If you need help understanding your travel insurance policy options, our multilingual team at PrimeService Insurance is more than willing to help you choose from a variety of options. You may contact any one of our licensed experts at 905-886-7277.

By Katia Barretto