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Travel advisories and travel Insurance: what to know about your coverage

Jan. 23, 2023
3 mins
A woman on an airplane uses her computer during flight

This article has been updated from a previous version.

Buying travel insurance is always a good idea when planning to go on vacation, but what if the country you’re jetting off to has an active government travel advisory?

Mexico, for instance, has been in the news recently after a wave of criminal activity and violence, and the government is urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel in particular regions.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, too, travel advisories were in place throughout much of the world. It’s crucial to understand how, exactly, travel insurance works in this kind of scenario. If you choose to travel somewhere under an advisory, you’re going to want to be sure your travel insurance will cover you if something goes awry.

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. 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 when there are active advisories

While the Government of Canada no longer requires Canadians to do pre-board COVID-19 testing, show proof of vaccination, or have a negative test to enter back into the country (except for those coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macao currently), you should still take appropriate precautions when travelling.

Whether you’re facing a violent crime- or health-related travel advisory, it’s important to understand that your travel insurance may not be valid if you travel knowing there’s an advisory in place.

With respect to COVID-19, the government still strongly recommends the following:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask and/or respirator when travelling by plane or train.
  • Do not travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Inform your travel attendant upon arrival if you start to experience COVID-19 symptoms. And until you know your results, avoid travelling on public transit.

There are many things to consider with travel insurance when active advisories are in place. It’s 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 for the same price, so shopping around for travel insurance remains an important step of planning your next trip.

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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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