You might want to think twice about booking an upcoming vacation. Getting coronavirus travel insurance is about to get a lot harder, as two leading Canadian insurance providers have confirmed that they’ll no longer be covering cancellations related to COVID-19. More companies are expected to follow.
According to a new report from Global News, two popular travel insurance agencies have confirmed that they won’t cover any new customers who want to cancel their trips due to COVID-19.
On Wednesday, both Manulife and TuGo revealed that they won’t be offering coronavirus coverage any longer, as the virus is now a “known” issue.
Until recently, travellers with insurance have been able to claim refunds for coronavirus-related cancellations, but this will not be the case for much longer.
"We've identified COVID-19 as a known circumstance," a TuGo spokesperson told Global. "That means it is no longer considered sudden and unexpected, as it is a global health issue."
This means that travellers are aware of the circumstances when they make travel plans, so reimbursements cannot be claimed as unexpected issues.
While globe-trotters who planned vacations prior to the outbreak should still be able to claim refunds if they need to cancel, those who are looking to plan upcoming vacations are unlikely to get the same coverage.
TuGo's new policy went into effect on Wednesday, while Maulife's is expected to begin on Friday.
#Manulife & #TuGo #insurance will no longer honor trip cancellations if your destination gets on Ottawa’s #COVID19… https://t.co/5hVNsHYAqb— Julia Hengstler (@Julia Hengstler)1583420891.0
Once a government has issued specific travel advisories for certain regions, the chances of you getting any insurance coverage at all for those areas are slim.
“If you’re buying travel insurance right now, most consumer policies will deny you because there is an advisory in place,” John Shmuel, managing editor at Lowestrates.ca told Global.
While Manulife's "Cancel For Any Reason" policy will still cover coronavirus-related issues, it's going to cost a little bit more.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone added that other companies are likely to make similar changes, to avoid a huge number of payouts.
"They are opening themselves up to millions of dollars of claims that they will have to pay unless they invoke this," said Firestone.
"If this thing blows up and it becomes a pandemic, all these countries are going to get on the [no] non-essential travel list."
This comes as Canada has stepped up several travel advisories worldwide. As the virus continues to cause concern in China, northern Italy and Iran, the government is urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel there.
#Italy: We have increased the risk level for multiple areas of Northern Italy. Avoid non-essential travel to these… https://t.co/XoiHeFMlwI— Travel.gc.ca (@Travel.gc.ca)1583160981.0
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom for Canada’s travellers.
Both Air Canada and Air Transat have introduced new policies amid COVID-19 concerns, which allow customers to change their flights or vacation dates free of charge.
This means that, should any issues arise between March 4 and March 31, guests will have the freedom of altering their package.