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Travelling abroad? Read this!

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on August 4th, 2022

The recent easing of travel restrictions is giving more Canadians the travel bug.

That means more residents are planning to head overseas and it’s meant a corresponding rise in travel insurance sales. Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic when COVID-19 coverage was rare, the good news is many insurers have started offering protection against disruptions related to the pandemic.

What is COVID-19 travel insurance?

This type of travel insurance covers you from the direct consequences of the pandemic on your travels. About 30 states worldwide require a travel insurance certificate mentioning coverage of events related to Covid-19. It is not mandatory in all countries and the level of insurance required can vary. The certificate will stipulate things such as the amounts covered by guarantees, conditions of reimbursement, dates of coverage and geographical area.

Prior to the global outbreak, a traditional insurance package for travel abroad focused on the coverage of emergency medical care, repatriation in case of illness or accident, hospitalization and death. It is now necessary to add a specific contract which may be purchased as part of, or as an add-on, for emergency medical travel insurance. This indicates precisely the guarantees that can be implemented in case of Covid-19 contamination, quarantine or if one encounters organizational difficulties due to Covid-19, such as flight cancellations, interruption or an extension of stay.

Tourists, however, also need to consider a few points before buying travel policies. These are:

Coverage may be “explicitly excluded” if the destination countries are under an “avoid non-essential travel” (Level 3) or “avoid all travel” (Level 4) advisory at the time of purchase. In addition, COVID-19 vaccination status may also affect coverage. Individuals who have remained unvaccinated by choice may have their claims declared ineligible by their insurers.

What does it cover?

It is important to remember the benefits included in Covid-19 travel insurance may differ slightly depending on who you choose as your insurer. Knowing what your policy covers is critical.

Coverage, according to the insurance comparison website HelloSafe.ca, may include the following:

  • Emergency medical care following Covid-19-related health problems up to $10,000,000: Some companies require the insured person to be vaccinated to receive these benefits. Always check the conditions of a contract. In addition, in some countries, like Canada, most insurers offer this coverage only if you are staying in a country where the warning is at Level 3 or lower.
  • Repatriation in case of illness: This decision must be approved in advance by the insurer. It is only accepted in serious cases when it is not possible to provide the necessary care in the country where the patient is staying. The amount covered can reach $80,000.
  • Trip cancellation if you contract Covid-19 prior to your departure: Coverage is subject to a positive PCR test and can amount to approximately $25,000.
  • Trip cancellation if a family member has a severe form of Covid-19. Coverage is up to $25,000.
  • Coverage for mandatory quarantine. Coverage is generally limited to $6,000.
  • Early return if a family member contracts a severe form of Covid-19 during your stay.
  • Coverage for a companion if you need to be hospitalized during your trip due to Covid-19-related health problems.

How you can save on COVID-19-related travel insurance costs

Rising travel prices are prompting many international travellers to find ways to cut costs. Among these expenses is travel insurance. To find out how holiday goers can save on premiums, Insurance Business Canada reviewed several websites of industry specialists for advice. In general, here’s what they say Canadian travellers should do to get the best coverage at the cheapest possible rates.

1. Be aware of what you’re already covered for

Some credit cards already offer travel insurance as part of their package. This is the reason experts recommend that cardholders check if the travel policy included in their credit card purchase provides enough coverage. Banks offer certain insurance and assistance services related to travel. To benefit, you must pay for your stay with your card. It is often wise to top-up these guarantees with a travel insurance contract to cover anything that’s missing, especially concerning problems linked to Covid-19.

2. Choose an annual plan

For those who travel several times a year, it is better to purchase an annual travel policy, also called multi-trip insurance, rather than a single trip plan every time. You can also choose from various maximum lengths of stay.

3. Take advantage of group discounts

Group rates are typically cheaper than those for individual travellers. Even a group as small as five can avail of big discounts. For families, premium prices can be lower for those with three or more members.

4. Bundle different insurance products

Just like when bundling auto and home insurance, combining travel coverage with other plans can result in cheaper premiums compared to buying each type of coverage separately.

5. Consider raising your deductible

A higher deductible means travellers will pay lower premiums. But beware, this also increases the amount you need to pay before their travel insurance picks the tab in the event something goes wrong on the trip.

6. Take advantage of early bird rates

Snowbirds, for example, can take advantage of early bird discounts, especially in July, August, and September.

7. Buy Canada-only plans

For those travelling within the country’s borders, they can lower their travel insurance premiums by purchasing Canada-only plans. Think of it this way, healthcare costs at home are much lower than in the U.S., where a 6-day hospital stay because of COVID-19 costs an average of $73,300.

8. Purchase travel insurance top-ups

Vacationers planning to extend their holidays can save money by purchasing a top-up travel insurance policy rather than buying a whole new plan for the remainder of the trip.

9. Keep an eye out for “buy before” offers

This is when travel insurance is purchased in advance, especially if the discount is available only before a specific date. This will also protect you from any sudden increase in premiums.

10. Compare plans

Not all travel insurance is created equal. Compare before you buy.

Finally, plan ahead for your travel insurance, including COVID-19 coverage. Just like packing, you don’t want to leave it to the last minute!

With files from Insurance Business Canada

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Canada's most up to date travel advisories

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