The Alberta Motor Association advises travellers to buy cancellation insurance when they book their trips, or else, coverage can be limited. (File photo)

Coronavirus complicates travel insurance coverage

Travel insurance coverage differs with companies

Every insurance company is different, so it’s important for would-be travellers to check with their insurer about medical or cancellation coverage as the coronavirus continues to circulate, says the Alberta Motor Association.

“It’s important to call the travel agency you booked with to understand the circumstances of your trip. Every supplier is treating the situation a little differently,” said Nikola Berube, AMA director of sales.

“Suppliers have been really proactive, whether it’s cruise lines, or tour companies, or airlines, around offering some different options during this very challenging time for people who are making these decisions.”

The latest announcement by the Canadian government came Monday when it recommended its citizens avoid all cruise travel.

Berube said that resulted in a spike to AMA’s already high call volume.

“Every time something changes, there are new questions that arise.”


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Canada has issued advisories to avoid non-essential travel to China, Iran and northern Italy.

For AMA, if a Canadian government advisory is already in place to avoid non-essential travel, or avoid all travel to a destination because of the coronavirus, travellers to that country will not be covered by AMA Medical Insurance for anything related to the virus.

But if travellers leave for their trip before an advisory is issued, they are covered.

Booking trips to destinations when there is already an active advisory will not be covered by AMA cancellation insurance. But people can still buy trip cancellation insurance now, with some restrictions, in case an advisory is put in place before they leave.

Berube said the bottom line is people should purchase cancellation insurance at the time they book and pay their deposit; otherwise, it limits their coverage.

She also recommended registering with the online Registration of Canadians Abroad service to make sure the federal government knows where travellers are in case officials can assist them.

Updates on the coronavirus can be found at the Public Health Agency of Canada. The World Health Organization is also closely monitoring the global situation and has updates, information and advice.

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