Due to COVID-19 there may be additional restrictions that apply to travel insurance, and it may not be available at all. In addition, circumstances may change while you are travelling that may impact your ability to make a claim under the policy. Please contact a licensed insurance agent or insurer for further information regarding these restrictions before purchasing a travel insurance policy.
When planning a trip outside of Canada, people often consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you in case of unexpected medical emergencies and related expenses that may happen while you are travelling.
There are many different types of travel insurance available. Policies may include coverage for medical related losses if you get injured or sick while travelling such as hospitalization and ambulance costs, or non-medical coverage such as trip cancellation/interruption and lost baggage. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance provides protection if you need to cancel your trip due to a covered risk. It’s important to know what kind of coverage you have so you don’t get caught footing the bill for something you thought was covered.
Purchase the coverage you need - make sure you know what types of coverage you want. There are different coverage options available and possibly not all of them are suitable for your needs. Carefully read the policy to understand what you are agreeing to. If your vacation plans are for an extended period of time, make sure your coverage is sufficient for your entire trip.
Understand the exclusions and pre-existing conditions clauses – you are required to fill out an application when applying for coverage. It is your obligation to provide the insurer with an accurate response to the questions. If you have questions about the application, contact your insurance agent or insurer. If you have questions about your medical history, contact your doctor. If you fail to provide the health and medical information requested or provide inaccurate information, your future claim may be denied.
Read the fine print in your policy – even though insurance policies and documents may be lengthy and complex, make sure you take the time to read these documents so you know what type of coverage you have and what types of exclusions and limitations may apply. All policies differ so it is important you know the details. If you have questions, ask the provider before you purchase the insurance.
Understand the claims process – before you purchase insurance make sure you understand the claims process, what is required and who to contact. Knowing the process before a situation arises can prevent unnecessary stress.
Ask detailed questions – make sure you ask the provider detailed questions such as - does it cover unforeseen events such as a pandemic or quarantine? It is important to ask these “what-if” scenarios before purchasing any type of insurance.
Talk to the airline – Many airlines implement goodwill policies as we've seen with COVID-19. In these instances, airlines may change their rules regarding refunds, cancellation and change fees and credits for future travel so be sure to talk to your airline or travel service provider before making a claim.
Contact the hotel and event organizers – Travel insurance might not cover all the costs of your trip such as events and accommodation. It’s important to check with these entities separately regarding refunds and cancellation fees. Organizers of major events and conferences may have purchased event cancellation insurance and may be able to reimburse attendees. However, not all events will be covered by a policy so it’s important to check.
Contact your credit card company – If you cancel your trip, you may be able to get a refund from your credit card provider. Consumers should call their credit card company to see if a refund is possible.
If your claim was denied by your insurance provider, call them and try and resolve the issue.
If you are still not satisfied with the response, contact the OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI) in the case of health claims, or the General Insurance Ombudservice in the case of property claims. These organizations provide independent complaint resolution and information services for the insurance industry. Time restrictions might apply, so make sure to ask the OmbudService about limitation periods.
OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance
401 Bay Street, PO Box 7
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2Y4
Toll Free Canada: 1-888-295-8112 www.olhi.ca
General Insurance Ombudservice
10 Milner Business Court, Suite 701
Toronto, Ontario M1B 3C6
Toll Free Canada: 1-877-225-0446 www.giocanada.org