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Travel Advisories and Travel Insurance: What to Know About Your Coverage

Nov. 11, 2021
3 mins
A woman on an airplane uses her computer during flight

Over the past 18 months, many of us have been fantasizing about the moment where we could, at long last, take a worry-free vacation again. And now, with Canada’s recent announcement that it has finally lifted the global travel advisory for non-essential travel (for fully vaccinated travellers), it seems those dreams can become a reality again.

But before you run to your closet and start packing your bags, there are a few things to consider. Just because the ban for non-essential travel has been lifted in Canada, there are still plenty of active advisories elsewhere. If you choose to travel somewhere under an advisory, you’re going to want to be sure your travel insurance will cover you.

How travel insurance could be impacted if you travel under a government-issued advisory

When it comes to advisories and travel, timing is crucial.

If travelling outside the country, it’s very important to check to see if there is a travel advisory in place for your destination before you book your trip. If there is an advisory and you still choose to book travel to that destination, it could void your insurance coverage (including your trip cancellation insurance) and your provider will likely deny your claims.

It’s also imperative to keep checking the status of advisories, not just before booking your trip, but also up to and including the day of your departure as well, as it is a rapidly evolving landscape. There are different types of travel insurance, and they could be impacted in different ways based on an exclusion in most policies.

Emergency medical and trip interruption coverage

If the government issued an advisory to avoid all non-essential travel or all travel completely to your destination before you departed on your trip, and you became sick or injured while away, the coverage exclusion would likely apply, and your travel insurance provider could deny your claim. However, if the travel advisory was issued after you had already departed on your trip, any claims would probably still be eligible for coverage.

The same goes for trip interruptions. If you departed on your trip when there was already a travel advisory in place and suddenly needed to return home early, the coverage exclusion would apply and, again, your travel insurance provider could deny your claim.

Insurance tips for travelling in the age of COVID-19

The Government of Canada advises the following to discuss with your insurance provider before you book a trip (and before you go):

  • Make sure you are covered for COVID-19-related medical expenses, other non-COVID-19 emergency-related expenses, as well as trip interruption. While some insurance companies may offer COVID-19 related medical expenses coverage, it may not include protection for other non-COVID-19 emergency-related expenses.
  • Find out if you are covered for quarantine costs should you become infected with COVID-19 during your trip.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance coverage for your entire trip, as some insurance providers may limit options to extend policies after departure.
  • Find out if you are covered for extended stays outside Canada. (Be aware that if you need to return to Canada for medical care, your options may be limited due to decreased availability of flights.)

As you can see, there are many things to consider with travel insurance during these complicated times. It is important to talk to your insurance provider before booking a trip and make sure you are protected. Government-issued travel advisories can change suddenly, so it’s important to keep tabs on them and even consider signing up for alerts to monitor them.

Bear in mind, too, that not all insurance providers offer the same type of travel insurance coverage when it comes to COVID-19, so shopping around for travel insurance has never been more important.

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Gail Balfour

Gail Balfour is a writer, editor, and senior content designer with more than 20 years’ experience covering areas of business, finance, technology and healthcare. A former editor of ComputerWorld Canada, she has also contributed to many other publications and corporate websites including Backbone, PwC Canada, RBC Canada, Women's College Hospital, Canadian Healthcare Technology and The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

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