Travel insurers update claims policy amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- One insurer is giving Canadians less than 10 days to return home or risk losing their travel insurance as many companies announce updated policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic and new federal directives.
On March 13, the government informed Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many providers are still allowing cancellation and medical coverage for travel booked prior to the March 13 announcement, at least one insurer has put a time limit on both.
RSA Canada said in a statement Friday that trip cancellation, interruption and emergency medical coverage was limited to a 10-day period following the government’s announcement.
“If a travel advisory is issued after departure, medical coverage for that location is limited to a period of 10 days from the date of the travel advisory or formal notice was issued,” the statement said. The group added that the timeline may be adjusted to a period that is “reasonably necessary for you to safely evacuate the country, region or area.”
In a statement to CTVNews.ca late Sunday, RSA "safety and well-being of our customers is our top priority," but that coverage "can differ on a case-by-case basis."
"We are working hard to communicate directly with our partners and customers," a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email. "We encourage all customers to read their policy closely and refer to the information that we have provided on our website."
A spokesperson for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, which represents 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance companies, said Sunday that there are no such limits among its insurers.
“We are not aware of any CLHIA member companies that are limiting medical at this time,” a statement to CTVNews.ca read.
Earlier this month, some Canadian travel insurers began halting coverage for cancellations related to COVID-19, calling the coronavirus a “known” issue. Among the first insurers to limit coverage were TuGo as of March 4 and Manulife as of March 5. “Manulife has determined that COVID-19 is now considered a known event,” Manulife said in a statement to CTVNews.ca.
Since then, more insurers have followed suit. On March 11, Allianz Global Assistance updated its policy for trips booked on or before that date, the same day the World Health Organization officially called the coronavirus spread a “pandemic.” Some insurers updated their policies later that week, when the Canadian government issued the travel advisory on March 13.
Green Shield Canada, a not-for-profit benefits carrier, said some health insurance claims would still be considered as long as they are non-coronavirus issues.
“In light of the Canadian travel advisory issued March 13, GSC standard travel plans will not cover any emergency travel expenses related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) for travellers leaving Canada after the advisory was issued,” the company said on social media.
“While medical claims specific to the coronavirus would not be covered while travelling, unrelated incidents (e.g. a fall, accident, heart attack) would still be considered, subject to the terms of your plan.”