Travel insurance coverage for epidemics and pandemics

Find out whether epidemics and pandemics like coronavirus are covered by your travel insurance.

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Coronavirus has been disrupting travel plans around the world for a while now and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. For this reason, it’s important to understand whether you’ll be covered for coronavirus-related expenses if you need to make a claim against your travel insurance.

While some travel insurance providers are covering claims related to epidemics and pandemics, others won’t cover you if you purchased your trip (or trip insurance) after a specific date. There are also some insurance providers falling back on an exclusion for epidemics and pandemics embedded in their policies to avoid paying out claims. We’ve compared 13 travel insurance companies in Canada to find out which ones will cover you for coronavirus.

Disclaimer: While the information on this page is intended to be as accurate as possible, please keep in mind that conditions for your coverage may change as the current situation evolves. Please refer directly to your travel insurance provider for the most up-to-date information about your coverage.

How do changing travel advisories affect my coverage?

The Government of Canada has issued a Level 3 travel advisory urging everyone to avoid unnecessary travel. Additionally, the Canadian and US governments have agreed to continue the border closure to July 21 as a precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Limited border exemptions are being made to allow immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to enter the country.

These recent developments could affect your ability to get coverage while overseas. Your best bet is to check in with your credit company for more information and to keep an eye on government travel advisories, which are updated regularly.

What’s the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

An epidemic is an infectious disease that spreads rapidly to a large number of people in a given region within a short timeframe. A pandemic is an infectious disease that spreads around the world and infects a substantial number of people in many continents and countries.

While epidemics and pandemics are considered two different occurrences, they’re usually treated in the same way by travel insurance providers in Canada.

Coverage updates from major travel companies in Canada

Many travel insurance providers in Canada offer coverage for coronavirus if you booked your trip before the virus was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. Others have extended their coverage for the pandemic to include bookings made before 13 March 2020, when the Government of Canada issued a global travel advisory advising Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel” to countries around the world.

There are only a handful of providers that offer very limited information about what type of coverage they will pay for due to coronavirus-related expenses.

Coverage validity dates by travel insurance provider

Most insurance companies are only covering coronavirus claims if you purchased your insurance and booked your trip before a specific date. These dates are outlined below for each travel insurance provider:

Travel Insurance ProviderCoverage likely valid if booked on or before:
RBC13 March 2020
CIBC13 March 2020
TD Bank13 March 2020
Scotiabank12 March 2020
BMOUnclear
World Nomads

13 March 2020

Seven CornersUnclear
Manulife5 March 2020
CAA13 March 2020
Sunlife13 March 2020
Blue Cross11 March 2020
TuGo4 March 2020
Allianz Canada10 March 2020

*Emergency medical coverage for all plans will likely only be valid if you booked your travel insurance by the specified date and left for your trip before the global travel advisory was issued by Global Affairs Canada on 13 March 2020. If you left for your trip after this date, you will not be covered by most insurers for emergency medical expenses or repatriation related to coronavirus.

Travel providers that won’t insure pandemics or epidemics

Travel Insurance ProviderTrip cancellation and interruptionTravel medicalMention of pandemic or epidemic in product disclosure statement
Bank of MontrealBMO has not issued any travel alerts related to coronavirus.There is no specific alert for coronavirus related to travel medical on the company website.Certificate of insurance

Yes. “The insurance does not cover, provide services for or pay claims resulting from (13) epidemic or pandemic.”

Travel insurance providers that will insure coronavirus prior to 13 March

Travel insurance providerTrip cancellation and interruptionTravel medicalMention of pandemic or epidemic in product disclosure statement
Royal Bank of CanadaValid if your trip was booked and travel insurance purchased prior to 13 March 2020 at 5:30PM (EST). You must be travelling prior to 1 September 2020 in order to submit this type of claim.You won’t be covered under emergency medical insurance for coronavirus if you travel anywhere outside of Canada after 13 March 2020 at 5:30pm (EST).Certificate of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

Canadian Imperial Bank of CommerceValid if you purchased your trip or travel insurance before 13 March 2020.You’ll only qualify for emergency medical if you departed Canada before 13 March 2020. This coverage will be limited to a period of 10 days from 13 March 2020, or to a period that is reasonably necessary for you to safely return to Canada.Certificate of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

TD BankValid if you purchased your policy and trip before 13 March 2020 and you want to cancel your upcoming trip due to coronavirus.You’ll only be covered for coronavirus-related medical expenses if you left for your trip before 13 March 2020.Certificate of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

ScotiabankCustomers who booked a trip prior to 13 March 2020 may be eligible to submit a trip cancellation or interruption claim.Insured persons who started a trip before 13 March 2020 may be eligible to submit a travel emergency medical claim due to coronavirus-related illness, subject to the terms and condition of their certificate of insurance.Certificate of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

World NomadsWorld Nomads travel insurance may provide reimbursement for trip interruption claims due to coronavirus if you booked your trip before 13 March 2020.You may be eligible for benefits under the emergency medical section of your policy if you become sick with coronavirus if you departed for your trip before 13 March 2020.Product disclosure

Will not cover you if you fail to follow a “do not travel” warning for “a threat or likelihood of or an actual contagious disease, epidemic or pandemic.”

CAAYou’ll be covered for trip cancellation as long as your trip and travel insurance was purchased before 13 March 2020.You’ll be covered for coronavirus-related medical expenses as long as you left Canada prior to the Global Affairs Canada travel advisory (13 March) and prior to any Level 4 (avoid all travel) or Level 3 (avoid non-essential travel) travel advisories being issued for your destination.Certificate of insurance not available online.
Sunlife You’ll be able to use your trip cancellation and interruption coverage if you purchased your policy before the 13 March 2020 travel advisory was issued. If you’ve already left for your trip, you’ll have 10 days from 13 March 2020 to use your insurance (or enough time to safely return home).You’ll be covered for a period of 10 days if you left for your trip before 13 March 2020. Because of the advisory to “Avoid all cruise ship travel” issued on 9 March 2020, customers who depart on a cruise after this date will not have out-of-country medical coverage.Certificate of insurance not available online.

Travel insurance providers that will insure coronavirus prior to other dates

Travel Insurance ProviderTrip cancellation and interruptionTravel medicalMention of pandemic or epidemic in product disclosure statement
ManulifeManulife recognizes that coronavirus became a “known” event as of 5 March 2020. For this reason, you’ll only be covered for trip cancellation/interruption due to coronavirus on or before this date.You’ll be covered for emergency medical expenses related to coronavirus if you purchased your travel medical on or before 05 March 2020.Statement of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

Blue CrossBlue Cross considers coronavirus to be a known event as of 12 March 2020. This means that if you purchased your travel insurance policy before this date, you can cancel your trip due to coronavirus and get a refund according to the terms of your specific policy.You’ll be able to get coverage for coronavirus-related illness if you left Canada for your trip before 13 March 2020. If you left after this date, you won’t get coverage for any coronavirus-related expenses since choosing to travel against a Government of Canada Level 3 or 4 advisory will invalidate your coverage.Statement of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

TuGoTuGo considers coronavirus to be a known event as of 4 March 2020. If you bought insurance before this date and you’d like to cancel your trip, you’ll be covered provided that there was no travel advisory to avoid all or non-essential travel to your destination at the time your trip was booked or the insurance was purchased.You’ll be covered for medical emergencies related to coronavirus provided you left your home province before 13 March 2020 and travelled to a destination that did not have a government-issued travel advisory (avoid all non-essential travel) in place prior to 13 March 2020.Statement of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

Allianz CanadaAllianz Canada recognizes that coronavirus became a “known” event as of 11 March 2020. If you purchased trip cancellation/interruption before 11 March 2020, you’ll still be eligible to claim expenses if you need to cancel your trip due to the global travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada on 13 March 2020.If you left for your trip prior to 13 March 2020 and you contract coronavirus at your destination, you’ll continue to be eligible for emergency medical treatment coverage with Allianz Canada.Certificate of insurance

Yes. “The insurance does not cover, provide services for or pay claims resulting from (13) epidemic or pandemic.”

Travel insurance providers that don’t specify what coverage they provide

Travel Insurance ProviderTrip cancellation and interruptionTravel medicalMention of pandemic or epidemic in product disclosure statement
Seven CornersYour insurance will only cover trip interruption if you can’t make your flight due to a doctor-ordered quarantine due to coronavirus. If your airline cancels your flight due to coronavirus, you won’t be covered for your losses. This coverage may be void if you booked your trip after a specified date.If you become sick with coronavirus and see a doctor or go to the hospital during a trip, your medical expenses may be covered. This coverage may be void if you booked your trip after a specified date.Certificate of insurance

No mention of pandemic or epidemic.

Can I purchase travel insurance that covers coronavirus after 13 March?

The general rule seems to be that coronavirus will not be covered for any travel insurance policies purchased after 12 March 2020 (and 13 March in some cases). Most policies won’t cover travel medical if you decided to leave for your trip after 13 March 2020 (the date that the Government of Canada issued its global travel advisory).

You can still purchase a travel insurance policy with certain providers if you need to travel outside of Canada in the next couple of months. You just won’t be covered for coronavirus with most providers if you purchase your policy after 13 March 2020 (or leave for your trip after this date).

Bottom line

Most of Canada’s big travel insurance providers don’t seem to have clauses related to coverage for epidemics or pandemics. That said, many have issued statements surrounding what benefits will still be offered.

When looking for your policy benefits, you should check your certificate of insurance and check for alerts on the website of your travel insurance provider. You should contact your travel insurance provider directly for more detailed information about your specific policy.

Keep up-to-date on all things related to COVID-19

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