Ins and Outs of Travel Insurance Amid Coronavirus Outbreak.

VANCOUVER – 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.

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.”

For instant quote and purchase on travel insurance, visit

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.


Out of country OHIP cut has Windsor-Essex travellers worried

Basic OHIP benefits for out of country travel are set to be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2020

Basic OHIP benefits for out of country travel are set to be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2020.

Windsorites are able to travel to Detroit so easily that many don’t think of obtaining out-of-country health insurance.

At the moment, Ontario’s OHIP insurance system covers $400-per-day for out-of-country inpatient treatments, with an additional $50-per-day for emergency outpatient and doctor services.

But that’s set to change on Jan. 1, 2020, when only kidney dialysis will be covered up to a maximum of $210 per day when out of the country.

Dina Mejalli, a partner at the Greg Monforton and Partners law firm who has helped Windsor clients obtain legal representation in the U.S. in liabilty claims due to accidents, said health care costs can be astronomical.

Mejalli said many snowbirds have lost their company benefits and now rely on private insurers.

“So their fear now is their premiums are going to increase because the Ontario government is cutting their minimal provision of benefits,” said Mejalli.

Windsor residents Martha and Dennis Willis live in Fort Myers, Fla. during the winter months. They lost their out-of-province benefits through their General Motors pensions, and now they’re worried their private insurance premiums will increase with the loss of OHIP coverage.

“Even travel in general is expensive. So now add the cost of out-of-province coverage on it and everything else that’s going to impact not even snowbirds but everybody I think,” said Martha Willis, from her home in Florida.

Sarah Hupalo, a travel agent with Goliger’s Travel Plus, said approximately $60 or $70 gets you one years’ worth of travel insurance at her organization. She said the price of the insurance sold by her company won’t increase because of the OHIP cut.

“Anything can happen and it’s very expensive. A 15-minute ambulance ride can be $10,000,” said Hupalo.

Waseem Jarjis is a law student at the University of Windsor who is enrolled in a joint program with the University of Detroit Mercy. He travels back and forth regularly, and thinks he might be covered under the Detroit university but isn’t certain.

“It might be nice to check my coverage now that these changes are coming about and see what I would have to do in that situation,” said Jarjis.

Windsor Regional Hospital sees more than 20 people each year who have come back from the U.S. after needing medical treatment there.

They believe American hospitals will discharge Canadians more quickly now that some OHIP coverage is drying up.

“Sometimes we find that insurance companies will exhaust the service in the US, so I think now with the changes that will be impacting the people of Ontario, I think we will see patients needing to come back sooner,” said Dr. Gina Bulcke, director of organizational effectiveness at Windsor Regional Hospital.

The province has already urged residents to get additional coverage sooner rather than later, because service costs covered by OHIP that pays for services in the U.S. isn’t usually enough.


  • A previous version of this story reported that out-of-province OHIP coverage is set to change on Jan. 1, 2020. Instead, out-of-country coverage is set to change on that date. The story has been updated to reflect these facts.Dec 05, 2019 2:53 PM ET


What you need to know about trip cancellation insurance.

Almost two-thirds of Canadians either don’t buy or are unsure if they have trip cancellation insurance before leaving on holiday, according to a recent study of 960 Canadians by

Assuming that trip cancellation coverage costs no more than 10% of a trip, that’s an insurance premium of about $300 for the average vacation costing about $3,000.

For a significant number of Canadian travelers, that cost is too high, the Kanetix study found. Thirty-six per cent of survey respondents believe that cancellation insurance is too expensive.

The Kanetix study lists a number of other reasons why your clients are hesitant to purchase cancellation insurance.

For example, 28% of Canadians surveyed said they have it on their credit card.

“Value adds” on a credit card such as travel insurance and/or damage to a rental car are typically underwritten by the insurance company with which the consumer’s financial institution has an agreement, Kanetix observed in a follow-up email with Canadian Underwriter. “People should check their credit card agreement documents for the specifics — including the insurance company.”

Another 15% of Canadians said they already have trip cancellation coverage through their workplace benefits. However, that not all policies cover the same limits. “It’s always best to check what your employee group coverage is, versus purchasing privately,” Kanetix advises travelers.

Twelve percent believe that their travel medical policy includes cancellation coverage. But does it?

“They are separate coverages and must be purchased separately,” Kanetix notes. Unless an all-inclusive policy has been purchased, which bundles emergency medical, trip cancellation and baggage loss coverage into one policy, there’s a chance that your clients may not have the coverage they think they do.

It might be worth it for brokers to raise the matter with clients just for educational purposes alone. Thirteen percent of people in the survey had not even heard of trip cancellation insurance.

And then there are the skeptics: 18% of those surveyed said they were not confident a claim would be paid.

Whatever reasons a client may cite for declining trip cancellation coverage, there are plenty of opportunities for brokers to educate the client about the coverage, said Janine White, vice president of marketplaces and strategy at

“For all that trip cancellation insurance covers, it’s an inexpensive way to protect the money you’ve invested into going on vacation,” Smith said in a press release announcing the survey results. “Whether it’s due to a death in the family, being called to jury duty, or a sudden injury or illness that prevents you from travelling, trip cancellation insurance can help you recoup travel expenses that are non-refundable or prepaid should you need to cancel your plans.”

Trip cancellation insurance can also provide coverage if the client is laid off from his or her job, if the home suffers a catastrophic loss like fire or flooding, severe weather, or if the Government of Canada issues a new “avoid travel” advisory, among other reasons why a client would want the coverage.

Full Article by Canadian Underwriter

Importance of Travel Insurance – Border Town Day Trips

This article is super important, for all but also for those of us who live in “border towns” where it is common to shoot over shopping for the day or go to a concert or other day event. Full article source listed below.

“A quick trip to the U.S., even for a day of shopping or to catch a ball game, can be a costly one in the event of  a medical emergency.

Few people consider purchasing additional health or travel insurance for a quick jaunt to our neighbour’s.

According to travel agents and insurance brokers, little has changed since a 2011 RBC survey of people aged 18-34 found 44 per cent “rarely or never” purchased health insurance for travel to the U.S.

“They just feel very sure nothing is going to take place,” said 82-year-old Mae Youngman, president of Mae’s Travel. “To take the chance isn’t worth it. I know that myself.”

She’s living proof a little extra money up front can save a person from a lot of financial hardship down the road.

She has suffered an aneurysm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had her appendix removed in Sarasota, Fla., and broke her elbow in Mexico. In all three cases, she received out-of-country medical treatment, including a seven-hour operation and three-week hospital stay.

She said without additional insurance, she could not have paid for the treatment.

Youngman estimates about half the people she books vacations for opt for travel insurance. “I don’t know how they do it on their own, how they pay for it,” Youngman said.

Mike Outram is a Windsor, Ont., man who couldn’t. The gymnastics coach suffered a fall in a Michigan gym and is now a paraplegic.When the injury happened, his medical care in the U.S. cost him $168,000 when all was said and done. “And I really didn’t have anything done,” he said. He never had insurance.

“Where’s the $168,000 going to come from to pay this bill?” he still asks. “It never really crossed my mind. Being on a border town you don’t really think about it. You don’t think, even going to a baseball game or getting on a bus, ‘how am I going to get in an accident?’ You can slip. You can be in a hospital in an instant.”

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) does pay for some out-of-province medical treatment, including some in the U.S. OHIP pays up to $400 CAN per day in U.S. hospital costs, depending on level of care. The plan also reimburses outpatient visits at $50 CAN per day. And it reimburses physicians costs at the rate they would be paid in Ontario. If a U.S. physician charges more than a Ontario doctor for the same procedure, the Ontario patient pays the difference.

OHIP spokesperson Julie Ingo said the province spends $14 million a year reimbursing Ontarians who suffer medical emergencies out of province.

“Ontario fees are much lower than in the U.S.,” she warned. “What OHIP is reimbursing under the travelers program is a limited amount and not the whole cost.” Most of OHIP’s coverage is for emergencies only.

Denise Luxford, a travel insurance specialist in Windsor, Ont., said a simple slip and fall down the stairs or broken  arm can result in a $5,000 US bill.

Luxford said that in some cases, American doctors conduct tests, such as MRIs, that Canadian counterparts would not call for.

“My own kids don’t think about it,” she said of travel insurance. “I have to remind them when they go. They’re so used to OHIP covering us here. I don’t think they understand the rules. “Everybody has heard horror stories.”

$350,000 bill

Sue and Glenn Bacarro have one. They were heading home to Windsor, Ont., from Detroit Metro Airport when Glenn lost control of their SUV in a snowstorm and the couple were struck by a transport truck. Sue suffered a bruised tailbone and crawled out the back of the SUV.  Glenn, though, had a collapsed lung, fractured spine, broken nose, broken pelvis, 12 broken ribs and an aorta dissection. He also lacerated his kidney, liver and spleen. He spent two weeks in two U.S. hospitals before he returned home.

The Bacarros had auto insurance, OHIP and an insurance plan through the University of Windsor, where Sue was going to school.

“I thought possibly, yeah, [it could be expensive] but I was thinking of Glenn and his well-being. I kept saying, ‘do the treatment and we’ll figure it out,'” Sue said.  The bill was $70, 000 U.S. when she realized auto insurance didn’t cover the medical costs. The bill ended up being $325,000 before Glenn came home.

Eventually, every dime was paid for by OHIP and insurance. It took six years to close the case. Meanwhile, bills were coming and collection agencies were calling, almost immediately. They couple now has out-of-country medical insurance that covers up to $5 million.

“You don’t think about it but if anything happens and you end up in a hospital, you’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments,” Glenn said. “How are you going to cover that?”

Will Goldstein, a person injury lawyer, said even a Canadian’s auto policy should be bolstered before heading to the States.

“One of the things you have to worry about in the state of Michigan is a lot of folks driving around without insurance. You shouldn’t assume the people who bang into you have proper insurance. You better make sure your insurance is high enough to cover the situation where you’re hit by an uninsured or unidentified car,” he said. “The effect on you and your family could be devastating.””

Article source:

Importance of Travel Insurance

Photo: Disney

Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial health authority.

Hospitals and clinics in some countries have been known to refuse to treat patients who become ill or who have had an accident and who do not have adequate travel health insurance or the money to pay their bills. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered abroad. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.

“During a short vacation on a Caribbean island, a Canadian developed a severe form of pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. His health deteriorated, and he was transferred to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine for more than a month. Without insurance, he had to make arrangements with the hospital to pay a bill that amounted to more than $20,000.”

At A&A Insurance Brokers Ltd, we have trained professionals to provide you with the travel insurance you need to ensure you have a safe and relaxing holiday.