What travellers need to know about the Coronavirus.

CAA South Central Ontario February 03, 2020
Plane over horizon at dusk.

As news reports continue about the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019, we’ve seen a lot of questions from travellers who have plans to travel to Asia or are in Asia today and are concerned about how this may affect their travel insurance. 

How the Coronavirus will affect your travel insurance if you are currently travelling or planning to go to China in the next few months. 

Q: Is it too late to buy trip cancellation & interruption insurance for my upcoming trip to Asia now that I’ve learned about this new virus?

A: If you’re buying trip cancellation & interruption insurance now because of the possibility that you may need to cancel your trip due to the outbreak of the virus, your coverage may be affected. It’s always best to consider travel insurance when you’re making your travel plans to protect yourself and your travel investment.

Q: Global Affairs Canada issued an Avoid non-essential travel, travel advisory to China. What does this mean for me and my trip to China? 

A: Travel medical insurance: This means that if you decide to travel to the country despite the issued travel advisory, you will not be covered by emergency medical insurance. Trip cancellation & interruption insurance: Contact your travel provider to find out how they will be dealing with the situation (e.g., refunds, reschedule, or credit). You can make a claim for the undelivered travel itinerary if you were not already refunded by the travel supplier. Or, in both cases, if you don’t go or continue with your trip, and don’t make a claim with your travel insurance, and your travel arrangements were fully refunded, you may request for a refund for the travel insurance premium.

Q: I’m supposed to leave next week for my trip to China. Can I cancel my trip and be reimbursed for non-refundable travel expenses? 

A: Global Affairs Canada travel advisory to Avoid non-essential travel has been issued for China as of January 29, 2020. You may cancel your trip before departure and use your insurance for reimbursement of non-refundable, pre-paid travel expenses. Check your policy for “New and unexpected travel advisory from Global Affairs Canada” for more details.

Q: I’m in China right now and I want to come home early to avoid catching this? Is there a benefit to cover my early return? 

A: As of January 29, 2020, a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory to Avoid non-essential travel has been issued for China. Call your insurance company and speak with them to find out if there are options for you.

Q: I’m in China and have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus/have been to an affected area and cannot fly home on my return date. Will travel insurance cover any of the extra expenses? 

If you have trip cancellation & interruption insurance, and can’t return home on your scheduled return date, you may be eligible to make a claim. In all cases, call your travel insurance provider to explain your situation and get clarification on your insurance benefits. Make sure to get as much documentation from the medical facility as possible and keep all your receipts. If your return home is delayed, what you’ll need is documentation from the treating physician in addition to your receipts. Make sure to call your insurance company to confirm all your benefits as each policy is slightly different. 

Q: I am in an area of China that has just become quarantined. Can I return home early?

A: Travel medical insurance:
There is no benefit to help return you home early.
Trip cancellation & interruption insurance: Yes, in this case you may be eligible to submit expenses related to returning home early.  

Contact your airline and the Canadian consulate to find out if there are any flight options available to you to leave the country. 

Q: I am in an area of China that has become quarantined. Will my insurance be extended and what do I have to do?

A: Contact your travel insurance company to purchase a Top-up/extension to extend your travel insurance coverage while you are quarantined in China.

Q: I have trip cancellation & interruption policy, and I am travelling to Arizona in February. All the media attention that Coronavirus is getting has made me nervous and I don’t want to travel. Can I cancel my trip and get a refund? 

If Global Affairs Canada hasn’t issued an Avoid non-essential or Avoid all travel, travel advisory for your destination/region, you may not receive reimbursement for non-refundable, pre-paid travel expenses. However, if your travel insurance policy has a Cancel for any reason benefit, you may apply for reimbursement for your travel expenses after you’ve cancelled your trip.

Q: What can I do to get advice on this issue?

A: If you have questions on your travel insurance benefits, please contact CAA Assistance for help at: 1-888-493-0161. From anywhere else call collect: 1-519-988-7044.

If you are in China and don’t know what to do, contact the Government of Canada’s consulate in China or go to travel.gc.ca for assistance. 

Call your travel insurance provider if you have any other questions about travel insurance.