Coronavirus: Canadian Travel Advisories and Why Travel Insurance is More Important Than Ever

Learn how Coronavirus is affecting travel for Canadians and how you can protect yourself with travel insurance.

With over 42,000 infections and 1,000 casualties, Coronavirus has been declared a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organization. How will Coronavirus affect your travel plans?

Coronavirus Travel Advisories

On January 29, 2020, the Canadian government issued a travel advisory recommending avoiding all non-essential travel to China. In addition, a travel advisory issued on January 27, 2020, counsels Canadians to avoid all travel to Hubei province, where the Coronavirus outbreak began.

What Happens if You Travel to China Despite the Travel Warnings?

The travel advisories don't legally prohibit you from travelling to China. However, most travel insurance companies will decline to cover you if you decide to head to China while the travel advisories are in effect. For example, your policy might state something along these lines:

"This policy does not cover losses or expenses related in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, to any of the following: Travel to, from or through any country, region or city for which, prior to your departure date, the Canadian Government, or any department thereof, has issued a warning to avoid all travel or to avoid non-essential travel during the time of your trip if the loss is the result of the reason for which the warning was issued."

Even if you bought your policy before the travel advisory, coverage for your trip would be excluded so long as the travel advisory was in place before your departure date.

What Happens if You Follow the Travel Advisories and Stay Home?

If you already purchased your tickets before Canada issued the travel advisories, consider submitting a claim for any non-refundable expenses to your travel insurance provider. Trip cancellation covers you if you need to cancel your trip due to unforeseen issues like severe illness or death of a family member. Policies differ as to whether they cover cancellations due to Coronavirus. Be sure to read your policy to determine whether it excludes epidemics from your coverage. If you purchased "cancel for any reason" travel insurance, then you should be able to cancel without any problems.

If you didn't purchase trip cancellation coverage, or your policy doesn't cover epidemics, consider asking your airlines, accommodations, or other travel providers for a refund.

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Recommendations for Canadians Travelling to China

Canadians who choose to travel to China should be cautious. If you start to become ill, seek immediate medical attention. According to the Canadian government, you should:

  • Avoid farms, animal markets, and places where animals may be slaughtered
  • Avoid contact with animals
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products
  • Avoid large crowds and contact with sick people
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water

The Canadian government also recommends that travellers should sign up with Registration of Canadians Abroad, a service that sends Canadians updates about emergencies within Canada and abroad.

Canadians returning from China may need to detail their travel history and answer questions. Airport officials may ask about your health and quarantine passengers if they exhibit Coronavirus symptoms.

How Travel Insurance Can Help

With so much uncertainty surrounding travel, a reliable travel insurance plan is indispensable. Travel medical insurance can cover emergency illnesses or diseases you might encounter while abroad. If your illness is severe enough, many travel insurance plans include emergency repatriation to Canada so you can be treated in a Canadian medical establishment.

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