This article has been updated from a previous version.
The federal government recently unveiled a vaccine policy for all travellers boarding planes, trains (VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer) or non-essential marine vessels, starting October 30. The vaccine requirement applies to travellers 12 years of age and older, with few exceptions.
Canadian travellers will need to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel abroad or domestically; however, there will be a short transition period for those in the process of being vaccinated. Travellers can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel until November 30.
People who falsify documents will face serious penalties. For example, air travellers can face fines of up to $5,000 per violation under the Aeronautics Act.
While Ontario and many other provinces have implemented vaccines certificates, there is no clear consensus among countries on a global vaccine passport. Some vaccines are not yet recognized internationally, and the mixing of vaccines is not universally accepted.
Will proof of vaccination reduce travel insurance premiums?
Although Health Canada has approved the use of four COVID-19 vaccines to date, it is still unknown how long protection lasts.
Nevertheless, travel insurance providers are discussing how to address the introduction of digital vaccination passports, but many questions remain, including:
- Is a vaccination passport from Canada valid in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere and vice-versa?
- What are the different standards and regulations for each country?
- What is or are the trusted source(s) to distribute vaccination passports?
- What is the proper technology to use?
- How to address privacy concerns and the prospect of fraud?
- What about people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons?
- What if you don’t own a cellphone or don’t have internet access?
Until insurance providers can answer these questions (or are provided with direction from federal or provincial governments), it’s a wait-and-see situation.
If you travel, protect yourself before leaving home with travel insurance
For the time being, should you decide to travel outside your home province, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get a travel insurance policy that suits your needs.
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Though the world is consumed right now with figuring out how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (and hopefully control its spread), travel insurance still matters. It can spare you the expense of getting emergency medical treatment in another province or country if you’re injured or fall ill while away from home. However, not all travel policies include coverage for COVID-19 and insurance policies will not cover the cost of entry requirements, such as quarantine hotels.