Frequently Asked Questions about Travel Advisories and Vaccinations
How does a Travel Advisory issued by the government affect travel coverage?
Global Affairs collects and reports on health, safety and security across the world, and provides this information on their website for the benefit of travelling Canadians.
Each country is individually assessed and assigned one of four main risk levels. These may apply to the whole country, or a region within the country.
The first two levels are considered travel advice:
- Exercise normal security precautions – no significant health or security risks are present, and the situation is similar to what you might expect in Canada.
- Exercise a high degree of caution - there might be some health or safety concerns in the country, and monitoring local media is recommended. This level might be used if there has been some localized crime or violence that a traveller should be aware of so they can do their best to avoid the situation while they are exploring their destination.
The next two levels are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are only issued when the safety and security of Canadians is compromised. When advisories are issued, Canadians can expect to be at risk if they choose to travel when an advisory has been called.
- Avoid non-essential travel – there are specific health, safety and/or security concerns that put you at risk. You are strongly advised not to go if your travel can be avoided, unless it is absolutely essential.
- Avoid all travel – there is extreme risk to personal safety and security. You should not travel to this country, territory or region, and you should leave immediately if it is safe for you to do so. Access to healthcare is extremely limited or unavailable.
When a country has been assessed an official advisory, the reason for the advisory will be listed as well.
HOW ADVISORIES IMPACT MEDICAL PLANS:
When this advisory is related to an infectious disease or specific illness, then your policy will not cover you against this infectious disease or specific illness because you have been advised of this risk prior to your travel. You are still covered for illness or injury related expenses that are not associated with the advisory.
There are two exceptions:
- If the risk level is 3, and you are considered by us to be an essential traveler, then you would be covered for eligible medical expenses related to the reason for the advisory. Risk level 4 remains excluded, even for essential travellers.
- If you are fully vaccinated against the infectious disease or illness that is the cause for the advisory, then you would be covered for eligible medical expenses related to the reason for the advisory. Risk level 4 remains excluded, even for vaccinated travelers.
If the official travel advisory is called while you are already at the destination, then you will be covered for eligible medical expenses related to the reason for the advisory, even if it is risk level 4.
Travelling to a country in which the risk level is 4 is strongly discouraged as your coverage will be extremely limited:
- If the reason for the advisory is related to infectious disease or illness, you will be travelling against the advice of Health Canada’s physicians and your medical claims would not be considered, even if you are fully vaccinated.
- If the reason for the advisory is related to war, terrorism, insurrection, civil unrest, acts of hostility, military, or other similar events, your related injury claims will not be paid.
Claims entirely unrelated to the reasons for a Risk Level 4 advisory may be considered, however are generally limited to accidental injury because travellers are advised that access to infrastructure and services such as healthcare are limited or unavailable.
HOW ADVISORIES IMPACT TRIP PROTECTION PLANS
When the Canadian government issues an official advisory of risk level 3 or 4 to your destination causing you to cancel or interrupt travel, it is considered an unexpected situation and is therefore eligible for Trip Protection benefits. However, your trip must have been purchased PRIOR TO the government issued advisory.
Government Advisory LevelTRAVEL MEDICAL PLAN
Purchased as a stand-alone plan or part of a Package plan, Travel Medical provides coverage for:
TRIP PROTECTION PLAN
- Emergency medical
- Ambulance fees
- Repatriation costs
Purchased as a stand-alone plan or part of a Package plan, Trip Protection provides coverage for:
LVL 1 & 2
- Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
- Air flight accident
- Accidental death & dismemberment
NO IMPACT TO COVERAGELVL 3 & 4Advisory
AFTER DEPARTURE Travel
BEFORE TRIP PURCHASE
Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
AFTER TRIP PURCHASE
Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
This is for illustrative purposes only and does not form part of your contract. Full details are found in the Travel Policy.
Travel Insurance is intended to protect consumers from sudden and unforeseen events that arise and leave them with out of pocket expenses that they did not expect to incur.
When a Level 3 or 4 advisory is issued by the Government of Canada, they are stating that Canadians can expect to experience health or safety concerns and so should not travel.
For any Trip Cancellation benefits, this means that a trip purchased after a Level 3 or 4 advisory is issued cannot be cancelled for the reason of this advisory. This is an expected event.
For any Interruption/Delay benefits, if you choose to depart on your trip after the Government of Canada has issued a Level 3 or 4 advisory, then all benefits on your plan are invalidated. You are not covered because it is expected that you could experience an issue causing a claim.
About Regional Advisories
When there are Regional Advisories — some geographic areas of your trip are assigned risk Level 1 and 2, but some parts are 3 or 4 — your benefits will be impacted if your claim occurs in the region assessed at risk level 3 or 4. All of the same medical and trip protection rules will apply to your travel in that region, as they would if your whole trip was in that area. It is vital that you understand the risk associated with your entire trip to know how your plan will respond.
When risk levels remain Level 1 or 2, all of your benefits are in force and applied according to the contract. This would include contracting COVID19 during your travel, or being delayed because of quarantine.
This information applies to all of our plans, single trip or annual, stand alone or packaged.
We always recommend that you read your travel policy booklet and check the Government of Canada website prior to any travel, especially when world conditions are changing rapidly.
For any pre-travel trip destination questions such as travel advisory, shots, visas or safety concerns, please contact Medi-Assist who have the most up to date information for your destination.
As always, our customer service representatives are here to help.
Are there vaccinations that I should get prior to travel?
When travelling internationally, you may be at risk for a number of diseases which are common in other parts of the world. Some countries may require vaccinations as part of their entry requirements. You can learn more about Travel Vaccines on our Vaccination page.
How does the need for vaccinations for coverage work for children?
Vaccine recommendations for specific diseases will vary. Individuals should check the Health Canada guidelines to understand if they are an acceptable candidate for immunization. Local Travel Immunization clinics are helpful sources of information.
Children under the age of 18, travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians are covered when:
- They have been fully vaccinated according to the recommendations for their age; or
- There is no vaccine available for their age; or
- For children age 12 and under, regardless of vaccination recommendation.
Children of any age who are travelling alone or with parents or guardians who have not been fully vaccinated are only covered for COVID-19 or any other infectious disease if they have been fully vaccinated. Otherwise, the exclusion for infectious diseases would apply, and no coverage would be available if there is an advisory in place for that infectious disease.
What if I cannot be vaccinated for an infectious disease?
Vaccinations are not always appropriate for some Canadians such as children or immunocompromised individuals. If you are travelling to a country that is risk level 3 as a result of an infectious disease such as COVID-19, unvaccinated travellers will not be covered for this infectious disease regardless of their personal reasons for not being vaccinated.
Does the coverage apply to the status of official travel advisories including infection diseases at the time of travel insurance purchase or departure?
If you are fully vaccinated, then the timing of the official advisory doesn’t apply. You will be covered if it was before or after your purchase or departure.
If you are not vaccinated, you will be covered for an infectious disease if the advisory was called before you depart. If you choose to travel while the advisory is in place, you will not be covered for the infectious disease if you are not vaccinated, regardless of your reason.
Do I still need Travel Medical Insurance if my airline is including COVID-19 insurance when I purchase a plane ticket?
We recommend you always have appropriate insurance coverage when leaving British Columbia. While COVID-19 insurance may be included in some airline tickets, it’s important to understand the amount of coverage that you will receive and know any limitations or exclusions to the policy. It’s very important to also ensure you have appropriate travel insurance to cover other emergency medical situations that may arise. For example, these policies typically will not cover you for any other illness or injury that might happen on your trip, such as a broken leg or heart attack.
Why do I need Trip Protection insurance if airlines are providing free cancellation insurance?
Many airlines require you to purchase a certain fare level to receive free cancellation or they may only provide a flight credit or one-time change should you need to cancel or postpone your travel for a covered condition. Trip Protection insurance allows you to recover your pre-paid travel costs no matter the fare level purchased.
If airlines are including COVID-19 coverage, does that mean that I can travel outside of Canada?
Canadians are free to make their own travel decisions, however it’s important to checkthe Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories website to understand the risk level of your destination prior to travelling or purchasing Trip Protection plans. Public health officials are currently recommending that Canadians avoid non-essential, international travel. Travelling when there is an official government advisory may impact your travel insurance coverage as indicated in the advisory section above.
Will my Pacific Blue Cross travel or Visitor to Canada plan cover the cost of the COVID test?
No. Lab tests are only considered when they are ordered by a doctor in an acute medical emergency situation.
I have trip interruption coverage and I had to change my flight to get testing done. Can I claim the cost of the new flight?
No. COVID-19 is a situation known prior to travel. We do not cover any COVID-19 related trip protection expenses.
I have to extend my trip to be able to get testing? Can I get an extension?
Yes, as long as you meet the criteria for extension, which includes paying the additional premium.
I had a vacation planned for the Mexico/Caribbean but now my flight has been cancelled as a result of the Government of Canada announcement of January 29, 2021. Is this eligible for Trip Cancellation/Interruption benefits, even if I am stuck at my destination?
No, this is not eligible for coverage. Effective March 12, 2020, we consider Coronavirus (COVID-19) a known event for individually purchased Trip Protection. Travel insurance is intended to cover losses arising from sudden and unforeseeable circumstances. Any claims resulting from events known to a policyholder at time purchasing the trip are not covered. Airlines have indicated that they will be providing refunds for these flights; please check with your trip provider for further details regarding potential reimbursement.
How will you know if I’m Fully Vaccinated for COVID-19?
We will only ask you for your proof of vaccination if you have a claim related to COVID-19 while you are at your destination.
Before travelling, we recommend that you visit the BC Health Gateway to gain digital access to all of your medical records from BC – including your vaccinations for COVID-19 and other diseases. Having these records will make the claiming process much faster, and could also help your doctors understand your personal health situation if you are ill or have an accident at your destination.