Virus outbreaks in general and pandemics — like the COVID-19 — in particular are catastrophic events that destabilize not only financial markets but our daily lives as a whole. People start to panic and do unnecessary things that increase the general level of anxiety with little to no upside. The particular strain of Coronavirus we’re dealing with these days is especially dangerous to elderly people and individuals with preexisting conditions, and for these people, in particular, one question is of the utmost importance: do insurance companies in Canada cover Coronavirus? That’s a valid question… that calls for a nuanced answer, because it depends on a variety of factors, most of them revolving around your travel plans. Here are the most important things to consider.

What If I Want to Travel?

You’re really going to have to shop around — starting at — especially considering that the virus and its quickness to spread is now well-known. If you willingly go to — or went — into one of the most affected areas, which is mainstream knowledge at this point, your insurance company could have some serious grounds to refuse to honor the policy if something bad happens to you because of your trip. If you don’t already have life insurance but are actively looking for one considering current events, it would be wise to ask the insurance companies you’re interested in if their coverage includes large-scale diseases and pandemics.

When Was the “Cut-off Date” For Travellers?

Considering what we said above about the level of intentionality that an insurance company needs to establish in order to void your policy, most of them have determined their own cut-off date. Simply put, it means that insurance companies consider the Coronavirus like an unforeseen event — and thus one that falls in the purview of their coverage — before their specific cut-off date and like a foreseen or foreseeable event after that. If you have a travel insurance policy with the “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage provision, you may want to read the fine prints in order to make the best decision regarding your travel plans. 

Canadians Health Authorities Have Issued Travel Advisories For Certain Regions and Countries. What Does It Mean Exactly?

From an insurance company’s point of view, these travel advisories serve the same purpose that their internal cut-off date. In other words, if you choose to visit one of the countries or regions subject to a travel advisory and that you contract the virus, it would be treated as a foreseeable event by your insurance company. If you have travel plans, you should be very prudent and check for any changes in travel advisories on a daily basis since the situation is rapidly evolving.

Can I Expect Some Leeway From The Airlines Themselves?

Considering the extraordinary circumstances we’re in, most airlines show some leniency to their customers — and rest assured that it’s for their own financial interests. For example, Canadian airlines are offering more comprehensive travel cancellation policies on some trips in order to allow people to plan vacations or other types of travel with a certain peace of mind. Basically, it means that you can book a trip that will make you leave the country in a few weeks or months for a destination that is safe today, but if the situation were to drastically change / new travel advisories were to be issued, you’d be reimbursed. This is a nice gesture that benefits all parties involved because without these kinds of offers, these companies would have an even more disastrous quarter than the one they’re looking at right now.

If we want to look at the bright side of things, the current pandemic has at least the benefit of making people more aware of the subtlety of their insurance contract policies. A significant number of travel and life insurance companies are experiencing higher call volumes, which can be objectively seen as a positive step in a rather negative situation. More and more people realize that they absolutely need to have a better understanding of what their insurance policy entails, which leads to the adoption of best practices that will hopefully outlast the virus.