Travel Insurers and COVID-19

Not looking good right now. Travel insurance that is. The financial risk of travelling into the United States without health insurance coverage is high. If a Canadian snowbird were to fall ill or become injured in an accident while in the United States, the health care costs without insurance would be devastating.

Would we travel into the United States if our insurer still covered the risk with only one exclusion?

This is what our travel insurance company is telling us right now:

Moving forward: for existing Annual Plans and any new and valid Medipac Policies issued with Trip Start Dates after the Official Global Travel Advisory released by the Government of Canada, claims for medical emergencies relating to COVID-19 WILL NOT be covered. This includes claims from clients that experience symptoms that are similar to or that may reasonably be attributed to COVID-19, in absence of a COVID-19 test, as such tests apparently are in short supply.

Our government, always helpful in terms of restricting our mobility rights, has this notice posted on their website:

Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

Under said notice, at least as far as I can tell, is a list of every single country in the world, including the United States, where non-essential travel is to be avoided.

Insurers use that list to invoke policy exclusions. Even if the Canadian government ends their official travel advisory against the world, insurers are unlikely to assume the risk of COVID-19.

Would we travel in the fall and assume the financial risk of COVID-19? Even if the border with the U.S. reopens to non-essential travel?

Last week, Air Canada issued a press release:

As part of the new schedule, in accordance with provisions for air travel to the U.S. for Canadians, Air Canada will resume service to the U.S. on May 22, with six destinations being served by May 25, including New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. This is a reduction from 53 U.S. destinations served last year. There are tentative plans to resume more U.S. service as of June 22, pending regulatory changes and demand.

June 21st is the next date when the Canadian government will decide whether the border with the United States can reopen. I suspect that is why Air Canada is being a little careful with the June 22nd date.

Even Walt Disney World has announced plans for a phased reopening starting on July 11th.

All good.

But most Canadians will stay in Canada this winter. Under house arrest and under strict social distancing rules. Ontario’s Emergency act contains a litany of rules like this one:

1. (1) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), no person shall attend,

(a) an organized public event of more than five people, including a parade;

(b) a social gathering of more than five people; or

(c) a gathering of more than five people for the purposes of conducting religious services, rites or ceremonies.

The government is so focused on keeping people socially distanced that they started to paint circles in parks to keep the herd properly separated. Carefully supervised by enforcement officers. Stay within your circle people!

There is, apparently, an exception for some organized protests. You can gather as many people as you wish for a protest in Toronto like this one on Saturday.

In the strange new world of COVID-19, other protests will get you a strict rebuke from government officials.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford slammed a group of people protesting coronavirus-related restrictions outside Queen’s Park on Saturday, calling them a “bunch of yahoos.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside of the legislature demanding an easing of restrictions that officials have implemented in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s reckless to do what they’re doing and personally I think it’s selfish,” Ford said.

Our premier has yet to comment on the much larger group of people that gathered to protest on Saturday. I suspect he will not call them reckless and a “bunch of yahoos.”

Unusual times.

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