People wearing masks, walk in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. Hong Kong on Friday confirmed 25 cases of a new virus that originated in the Chinese province of Hubei. According to the latest figures, 233 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed globally, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Admissions told a news conference. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Ins and outs of travel insurance amid novel coronavirus outbreak

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus

Travellers nervous about globe-trotting during the novel coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to receive a refund for cancelling their travels, say insurance experts, but it depends on the destination, their insurance policy and other factors.

“I think in any case of sort of an epidemic like this, it’s really an evolving situation and every day is different, something new happens,” said Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. CLHIA represents 99 per cent of the country’s life and health insurance companies, according to its website.

Travel insurers watch the unfolding situation very carefully, she said, and the association is frequently checking in with all its members about what they’re experiencing.

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization.

The bulk of these are in China, where there have also been 637 deaths. Across 24 other countries, there are 270 confirmed cases and one death. There are five confirmed cases in Canada.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in late January.

ALSO READ: Five more Canadians test positive for the new coronavirus aboard cruise ship

The Canadian government issued a Level 3 advisory for China, asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. There is only one higher level, which advises travellers to avoid all travel.

The government recommends people avoid travelling to Hubei Province, where Wuhan city is located. The province has recorded 22,112 of China’s 31,211 coronavirus cases, according to the WHO.

As soon as the Canadian government declares a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, a person may cancel their upcoming trip and their insurance should cover any lost expenses, said Weir.

“You’d have to submit receipts,” she said, but travellers should receive refunds for flights, hotels and other costs.

Trips booked before the government issues these advisories are often covered by travel insurance, said an emailed statement from the insurance company RSA Canada.

“Trips booked after this point are not eligible for medical coverage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.”

Allianz Global Assistance Canada, which declined to comment due to “how quickly the current coronavirus is evolving and the changing advisories” from Canada’s government and others, posted a notice on its website to customers about the outbreak indicating booking timing mattered for coverage eligibility.

People travelling to China whose trip cancellation benefits kick in if the government issues a Level 3 advisory would be eligible to submit a claim if they purchased insurance before Jan. 29, when the government issued its advisory, according to the statement.

For those who do qualify, it doesn’t matter whether their trip is next week or in six months, said Weir.

However, the destination matters. While 24 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases, Canada’s travel advisory applies only to China. That means a person who feels uncomfortable travelling to any of the other countries won’t be able to get a refund for cancelling their trip, she said.

That is, unless they purchased what’s known as cancel-for-any-reason insurance, she said, which does exactly what the name implies.

Those who haven’t purchased any travel insurance may still be able to secure a refund, Weir noted, as many major credit cards offer some kind of coverage.

“But it depends on which credit card you have and what the benefits are,” she said. “So it’s good to know what your credit card covers for trip cancellation, for trip health, all that.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

WorkSafeBC investigating death at Victoria Customs House construction site

Prevention officer will ensure all safety issues addressed before work starts again

PHOTOS: Gallery explores ‘broken promises’ during Japanese Canadian internment in 1940s

‘Broken Promises’ to acknowledge the thousands of Japanese Canadians who faced dispossession

Four-storey Oak Bay Avenue development to have rooftop garden

Redfern 35-unit development sent to public hearing

Heavy rains cause wastewater overflow off Oak Bay, Saanich beaches

Affected beaches will be posted with public health advisory signs

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Sooke Philharmonic introduces new quartet

SPO presents first online concert Oct. 5

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Sept. 22

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Most Read