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Planning to travel this year? Here’s what you need to know.

Whether you are travelling outside your province of residence or internationally, travel insurance is valuable coverage for medical expenses, unexpected trip cancellations and interruptions, and added (nonmedical) expenses. And depending on the type of coverage you purchase, even COVID-19-related risks.

Is COVID-19 still an issue while travelling? How does it impact travel insurance?

While many countries and regions have relaxed their COVID-19 restrictions, it’s still possible that you’ll be personally impacted by COVID-19-related issues prior to or during a trip.

For example, if you test positive for COVID-19 and can't travel, you may end up having to cover additional expenses while recovering from your illness.

Ask what your insurance covers so you can make informed decisions. A travel insurance policy may not cover COVID-19-related expenses and delays if you don’t ask for the coverage specifically. Some will cover quarantine expenses but not airfare. There are many conditions that vary depending on the carrier and insurer, so it’s good to read your policy carefully and ask about anything that’s unclear.

For medical COVID-19 costs, as long as you are COVID-19-free when you take your trip, if you get COVID-19 during a trip, your medical expenses will be covered by most standard travel insurance plans.

What questions should I ask when purchasing travel insurance?

Due to the ever-changing environment with COVID-19, always ask these questions before travelling to help you understand your coverage options:

  1. What is the difference in coverage between medical and trip cancellation insurance related to COVID-19?
  2. Do I have to be partially or fully vaccinated for the coverage to apply?
  3. Is COVID-19 coverage included in the basic coverage, or do I have to get a special rider?
  4. Do I have to answer a medical questionnaire to apply for the COVID-19 emergency medical coverage?
  5. Is there any limitation for the destination? The travel advisory status of the place you are visiting could impact your coverage or cause certain coverages to be excluded.
  6. Will nonmedical costs be covered if I have delays due to a positive COVID-19 test? How does this coverage work?
  7. If you plan on taking more than one trip this year, always ask for a comparison between a multi-trip annual or single trip plan.

What about travel insurance and pre-existing medical conditions?

Your eligibility for coverage always considers your health changes within a certain period prior to the date of departure. But the timeline varies based on age. For example, for older travellers or those with certain medical conditions, some carriers will look at the past year. Others will look at smaller periods of stable health for less severe medical conditions.

It’s important to ask about your personal situation in relation to your coverage to ensure you’re properly aware of the terms and conditions of any travel insurance policy.

Please note that when answering your medical questionnaire, if you do not know how to answer, you must ask your doctor. The answers on the questionnaire must accurately reflect what your medical records say, or your coverage may be invalid.

How does travel insurance work for extended stays abroad?

If you are like many Canadians looking to get away for the winter months, there are a variety of travel insurance options that fit your needs.

If you plan on being away for a few months at a time, you can purchase a specific policy to cover the length of your trip. If you are making frequent trips back and forth, or taking a few trips during the winter months, an annual travel plan may provide you with peace of mind knowing you are covered for shorter trips without having to call and arrange travel insurance before each trip.

Do I need provincial healthcare coverage to qualify for travel insurance?

In most cases, yes. Before you travel, check your provincial health insurance plan’s criteria for how long you can stay away. Standard travel insurance requires that your provincial insurance is valid to meet the requirements of the standard contract.

For example, in Quebec, the RAMQ will only cover you for 182 days. This time is cumulative, so if you leave and come back, your time out of the country does not reset when you return to the country. If you lose the RAMQ coverage, you won’t be eligible for the basic travel insurance coverage.

In Ontario, you have 212 days in a 12-month period before you lose OHIP coverage. In Alberta, you can be out of the country for up to six months before losing AHCIP coverage. Each province has its own rules and conditions, so look into your own situation carefully to make the decision that’s right for you.

If you lose your provincial coverage, you may have to buy visitor to Canada insurance while you wait. Even if you're not really a visitor, this plan is made for people in the country without access to government coverage.

Are there any vacation activities that could result in my travel insurance being voided?

Yes. If you plan to take part in any high-risk activity, such as bungee jumping or skydiving, make sure you speak with your insurance provider to ensure you’re covered.

If you’re injured or become ill because of scuba diving, you’re unlikely to be covered unless you’ve been certified by an internationally recognized program. Check with your provider before you travel if you plan to scuba dive.

Many plans will not cover injuries sustained under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you plan on drinking while travelling, speak to your provider and compare policy options.

It’s also important to look into the country you’re travelling to, and ensure you receive any vaccinations required to enter and are following all travel advisories issued by the Canadian government.

Planning to travel? Request a quote now and journey with peace of mind.

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