Travel Insurance During Covid-19 – What You Need to Know
Not everyone is ready to get back in the air, but as winter approaches, there are people itching to head to warmer weather and sunny destinations. And a lot of those travelers are confused about purchasing travel insurance during COVID.
I know my parent’s Snowbird friends are planning on heading south whether it’s safe to or not. (note: my parents are staying put in Canada this winter). So if you are starting to consider traveling, these Covid-19 Insurance tips might help you out.
It is important to note that the world is in a crisis and vacation travel at the moment is non-essential. Many companies and countries are working with reduced availability of medical resources and everyone should be doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We do not advise or endorse traveling against government travel advisories.
But as destinations begin to open up safely it is necessary to be armed with as much information as you can, so we are now feeling comfortable to start writing about travel in the time of Coronavirus.
And there is no better place to start than with travel insurance.
Many destinations are in great need of tourist dollars and are setting up contingency plans to make travel safe for both the visitors and the locals.
Insurance companies are slowly rolling out their COVID Insurance coverage, so when it is safe to travel again and when you feel comfortable doing so, these are the companies offering coverage. (We will be updating as we find more information)
Not all insurance plans are created equal and you need to make sure you ask a lot of questions to your insurance company before you travel.
Remember, Canadians need to self-isolate for 14 days when they return from international travel. For other countries, we suggest self-isolating as well.
Companies offering Travel Insurance With Covid Coverage
We were invited travel to the Azores this month, and while contemplating whether it was safe to travel, we looked into many insurance companies offering COVID-19 coverage. We decided not to go at this point, but we did come away with some valuable information.
This post is only a guide to COVID-19 insurance and it is still very important for you to call your provider to ask the right questions and to make sure that you are covered.
Besides letting you know which insurance companies are currently offering Coronavirus coverage, we also offer tips for asking questions when you do call your provider.
If you have experience or have knowledge of other companies offering coverage, let us know in the comments below.
When you purchase Medipac Travel Insurance, they say you are covered in their policy. Pre-existing condition clauses and other policy terms and conditions will continue to apply.
When looking at the policy under exclusions it states: “Any Medical Emergency that occurs in any city, region or country where Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (Global Affairs Canada) has issued a travel advisory to “avoid all non-essential travel” or “avoid all travel” prior to Your Effective Date of Insurance or Your Trip Start Date. This exclusion does not apply to travel advisories from Global Affairs Canada in response to COVID-19.“
This is an important exclusion to keep an eye out for. MediPac has made it clear that the exclusion does not apply to COVID. Canada is currently under a travel advisory, so it is important to ask whether your coverage will apply if Canada has issued a travel advisory.
Find out more at Medipac.com
TourMed is also offering COVID coverage and they have developed a very cool COVID-19 Indicator tool for your destination.
When looking at their COVID-19 Rider, they seem to have great benefits eliminating the pandemic situation from the exclusion.
Their coverage clearly states $5,000,000 in a medical emergency related to a positive diagnosis confirmed by a Physician even if there is a travel advisory regarding the pandemic situation.
You can check out the full coverage here at TourMed Rider
Manulife is the largest travel insurance provider in Canada and it will soon be offering a COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan.
Keep an eye out for it as it rolls out, but here is what they say will be covered.
Up to 200k for emergency medical coverage for COVID-19 and related illnesses after a positive test and quarantine expense.
As we have said throughout this article, Canada is currently in a Level 3 non-essential Travel Advisory.
Should it be upgraded to a Level 4 full-on travel ban, Manulife seems to be the only one so far (and they haven’t even rolled it out yet) offering return airfare should that occur. But it is only for up to $500 and that is if you can even get back in.
You can keep an eye on COVID Coverage updates with Manulife Here.
Blue Cross is available to Ontario and Quebec Residents and it was the first medical insurance provider Dave and I ever used. It is also now offering COVID Coverage.
It is offering COVID Coverage, but is not honouring the non-essential travel warnings that the Canadian government has issued right now.
But when it is lifted, it will cover COVID travel including costs for quarantine and other COVID-related emergencies. However, as of now, they are not offering a lot and they clearly state, your coverage will be subject to their approval.
Stay up to date with Blue Cross Corona Virus Updates here.
For Americans and Canadians
Safety Wing was one of the first companies to offer COVID-19 coverage starting as early as August 1. COVID coverage works the same as other illnesses. As long as it wasn’t contracted before the start of your coverage, there is no limitation.
This is great coverage for Americans, but when we looked into it, Canadians can only be covered if they are already outside the country.
While Canadians are eligible for SafetyWing plans, due to Canadian regulations on foreign insurers, you can only purchase once physically outside Canada.
For instance, when you land at your destination or once the plane leaves Canadian territory.
For travelers outside of Canada, this restriction also applies in Australia and three states for Americans; Washington, New York, and Maryland.
So in essence, you can call Safety Wing the moment you land at your destination. If you feel comfortable with that, it is an option.
Medjet can be used for both American and Canadian travelers.
We have written about the importance of adding Medical Evacuation insurance onto your medical coverage when traveling, and MedJet has now added a COVID Benefit.
Starting October 19, 2020, Medjet will be able to transport a hospitalized member with Covid-19 to a hospital of their choice home.
There are certain restrictions. Travel must be in one of the 48 covered states, Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands. (It does not include other regions)
This coverage will be included at no extra cost and is a good option to add to your other existing plans.
We feel that medical evacuation insurance is a good addition to travel medical insurance, but it doesn’t replace it. We still need coverage for hospital stays in other countries, hotel and other costs should there be an emergency.
But this is a good addition for getting fast and efficient air coverage.
You can read more about Medjet coverage here.
For International Travelers Including Canada and the US
World Nomads Americans, it clearly states “World Nomads does not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by U.S. residents, which means that you may make claims arising from the COVID-19 for the benefits specified in your policy.“
World Nomads is a good insurance provider for many different nationalities making it easy to see what is covered in your country of origin.
World Nomads has been the go-to insurance provider for backpackers and digital nomads, so it is no surprise that they offer COVID-19 coverage. But they do have the vaguest coverage using the word “may cover” quite often.
They are also not honouring the exemption for some countries.
When looking at their website as a UK resident regarding COVID they state: “There is NO COVER available for travel to any country or part of it with a COVID-19 travel ban, and any events that arise when you travel against any FCO government warning advising against all or all but essential travel.”
Canada is currently in a travel advisory warning and the Canadian government is advising against all non-essential travel.
World Nomads claims that if you purchased your policy before the government advisory, you “may be” eligible. So for the digital nomads who already have World Nomads, you might be okay.
But as we said, they use vague wording, so it looks easy for them to get out of covering anything.
However, WorldNomads is worldwide and they have a very easy calculator to find out if you are covered for your country.
To find out if you are covered for COVID with WorldNomads visit their website.
For UK Travelers
Speaking of the UK, Stay Sure offers Covid Coverage to UK residents for travel abroad.
- Canceling your trip if you have COVID-19 within 14 days of traveling.
- Emergency medical expenses abroad.
- Repatriation to help you get back home
- Cancellation and repatriation cover if you’re denied boarding with a positive test for COVID-19
- Daily benefit if you are ordered to self-isolate in your holiday accommodation if you have COVID-19
- Your traveling companion(s), people you live with, or people you’re staying with on holiday being diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of travel.
Some restrictions apply to all of the above, so be sure to check with the StaySure Website before booking your trip.
Airlines and Travel Agencies
WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Canada have offered free COVID Coverage to customers as well. For a limited time, they are offering COVID-19 related expenses such as quarantine costs.
Read more about each type of coverage:
- WestJet – Is offering coverage until September 2021
- Sunwing – Coverage is at no extra cost to you and is being offered When you book your all-inclusive vacation or Sunwing flight between September 17, 2020, and October 31, 2020, for departures between October 16, 2020, to May 31, 2021.
- Air Canada Vacations has partnered with Allianz – The plan is no additional cost for your trip. The insurance covers eligible travelers departing between September 4, 2020, and April 30, 2021.
- Air Canada has partnered with Manulife – new bookings with Air Canada originating in Canada include complimentary Manulife COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance for travel until April 12, 2021.
Flight Centre has also partnered with Allianz and is also offering similar coverage. If you are an eligible traveler and have booked a Flight Centre Holiday package to an applicable destination in Asia, Europe and, Mexico & the Caribbean, you are covered under the plan.
Check with each company further before you book any flights or trips as coverage is for select destinations and it excludes the United States. And they only provide coverage for eligible travelers.
Questions To Ask Before Buying Travel Insurance
It is important to note, that every plan offers “eligible travelers” that can be very vague. Eligible travelers can have several different meanings.
Before you fly, give the provider of your choice a call and tell them your entire health history.
- Tell them about your travel plans. Where are you going and for how long?
- How old are you?
- This is not the time to keep secrets or be vague. If you have a health history that is in question, ask them if it is covered. And ask where it states so in the policy.
- Are you doing high-risk activities? And what do they consider high-risk activities?
- Do I need to pay upfront and submit the claim?
- Or I need pre-authorization from my travel insurance for treatment or hospitalization?
Customers booking vacation packages with Flight Centre, Air Canada Vacations and WestJet to select destinations — which exclude the United States — are covered for up to $100,000 in medical bills. WestJet provides the same coverage for international flights, excluding the U.S
Questions to Ask When Purchasing COVID Medical Insurance.
We have an entire post about what questions to ask when purchasing travel medical insurance here. But it there are also COVID specific questions that we think are important to ask about before you fly.
- If my government has a travel advisory am I covered?
- Can I purchase a “Cancel for any reason” option for my trip. This has been offered in the past, but many companies have taken this option away. This could be a good option for peace of mind.
- If my government upgrades the travel advisory while I am away, am I covered.
- What is covered if I contract COVID-19 while traveling.
- What if my travel companion contracts COVID-19 but I do not?
Is anything covered?
- Is trip cancellation and trip interruption covered?
- What pre-existing conditions exclude me from COVID-19 coverage.
- Can you tell me where in the policy my COVID coverage is.
- If I test positive before flying, will my flight and travel costs be reimbursed?
- What is your definition of an eligible traveler?
- If I contract COVID-19 while traveling, but do not have to be hospitalized, will my mandatory quarantine costs be covered?
- I already have an existing policy, am I covered for COVID-19?
- If I contract Coronavirus while traveling, can I be flown home?
- How much am I covered for should I be hospitalized?
- What else is covered regarding Coronavirus? Travel expenses, trip reimbursement, hotel stays?
And finally: The Government of Canada suggests to “make sure you have travel insurance coverage for your entire trip as some insurers may limit options to extend policies after departure.”
Read more recommendations at their website.
This is only general advice to help you begin your search for travel insurance. With the current situation, rules and regulations change frequently. It is important to check with your insurance provider before purchasing a trip and it is important to check with your local government warnings and travel advisories.
We do not currently work with any of the companies listed above and have looked into purchasing travel insurance for ourselves as our usual provider is not currently offering COVID-19 insurance coverage.
“While companies are offering COVID Insurance, it is important to really look into the fine print.
If you have doubts, they are just a phone call away. We always call our insurance provider to ask specific questions.
Even without the COVID pandemic, travel insurance can be confusing, but when purchases properly and being armed with information, you can travel safely and with peace of mind that you will be covered should an emergency occur.