There have been lots of questions coming up around travel lately. It’s important to have a good understanding of how your employee benefits travel insurance works before planning a trip. A typical insured employee benefits plan would include travel insurance automatically built in to the extended health benefit. It provides coverage for an unexpected medical emergency that occurs while the employee and/or their dependents are traveling outside of Canada. With travel advisories related to COVID-19 changing rapidly, people may wonder how their travel insurance coverage is impacted. Because the situation fluctuates so frequently, travel insurance carrier policies may change frequently as well. You also need to know specific travel advisories to the country you are travelling to.
Here are a few pointers to help you better understand group travel insurance:
1. Your Employee Benefits Provider is Not the Same as Your Travel Insurance Carrier
It’s a little-known fact that there are only a few specific travel insurance carriers. Employee benefits providers use one of these carriers to provide travel insurance in a group plan. This means that any claims or questions related to travel insurance often need to be directed to a different point of contact. The phone number for travel on a plan member’s benefits ID card will take them directly to their travel carrier.
2. Travel Coverage is Limited to Emergencies Only
Group travel insurance is designed to provide protection in the event that a person is injured or requires emergency services while travelling. If an emergency arises, no matter the severity, the travel insurance carrier must be contacted while the person is still in the country they’ve travelled to. A travel claim may not be accepted if it is made once the person returns home.
3. Pre-Existing Conditions may affect your coverage
Coverage varies for pre-existing conditions and carriers have different clauses on this. Always be sure to check ahead of time. Emergencies related to a pre-existing condition may not be covered depending on a specific carrier’s clauses. For example, most carriers require that a person must be stable for a specified period of time before travel if they have a pre-existing condition. Stability means no change to medication taken, no recent tests or visits to the doctor within that specified time period. We recommend that you call your travel insurance carrier to find out what their policy is.
4. Coverage Related to COVID-19 Changes Frequently
More and more group travel insurance carriers have recently added some level of coverage for COVID-19. However, it’s important to understand that changes to coverage should be expected due to the rapidly changing situation around the world. The best way to manage this is to call your travel carrier directly before travelling. This will help you understand their policy and the coverage you would have while travelling if you were to contract Covid 19. Note that a person required to isolate in a country they travelled to would not be covered for the accommodation and food expenses during this time.
5. Claims in Countries Flagged by the Government Are Not Covered
Anyone planning travel abroad should visit the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories website to review all issued warnings. If a country is included on this list the day that a person travels, there may be only limited coverage available to them or none at all. If you have travel plans, make sure you check this website leading up to your departure so you don’t have any surprises.
The situation with COVID-19 continues to change almost weekly and until things stabilize, there will be risks around travelling. It is essential to be informed before you travel. We recommend that you call your travel insurance carrier to understand your coverage when making your plans. Call again right before you leave to make sure that nothing has changed.
Want to know more about travel insurance? Contact us and we would be happy to answer your questions.