with Megan Douglas, Vice President of Customer Relations & External Affairs with Saskatchewan Blue Cross

What do I need to think about as I’m booking a winter getaway?

As you’re planning travel, it’s important to stay up to date on travel advisories, entry and departure requirements, your destination health guidelines, and the fine print and coverage details of your travel insurance plan. Each can affect your plans and budget.

Guidelines and rules are evolving fast, so be sure to check for current information during booking and prior to your return to Canada at travel.gc.ca.

When you’re selecting a destination, consider what would happen if you had a COVID-19 related medical emergency or positive test while you’re away. Ask yourself what your insurance would cover, what the quality and access to care would be like at your selected destination, and what kind of costs you might incur above and beyond your travel insurance if you had to extend your stay for a medical emergency. 

There are a lot of resources to help you plan. Fair Health, an independent nonprofit, tracks health care costs in the USA with an online interactive tool displaying state-by-state costs associated with COVID-19 treatment which can range from as low as $31,339 for noncomplex COVID-19 hospitalizations to as high as $472,213 for complex cases. Your travel agent can also provide information on which all-inclusive destinations are offering complimentary accommodation or meals on their premises should you need to quarantine if you test positive prior to flying home.

What do I need to ask my insurance provider before I buy  travel insurance? 

Travel insurance offering COVID-19 coverage is pretty easy to find these days, however not all plans are created equal. Be sure to ask these critical questions of travel insurance plan providers for a clear understanding of what coverage maximums are, what medical and non-medical expenses a plan covers, and to ensure you’re adequately protected for the destination you’re travelling to.

Remember, travel insurance is an important consideration not just for travel abroad, but inter-provincially within Canada too.

• What are the coverage maximums for COVID-19? 

• Does the plan include quarantine costs? Would my accommodation and meals be covered if I have a COVID-19 medical emergency and need to extend my stay?

• Can I extend the duration of the plan if I test positive and need to stay for quarantine? Is there a cap on the number of days I can extend coverage? 

• Will the plan cover the costs of repatriation if I need a medical transfer home?

• What happens if I need to change my travel dates due to changing travel restrictions?

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 testing requirements for returning to Canada?

You’ll find the most up-to-date information at travel.gc.ca. Right now, with limited exceptions, travellers entering Canada require a negative molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test – rapid antigen tests are not accepted. The costs and availability of these tests differ by country, so it’s important to do that research before you depart and factor that into your travel plans. Remember, travel insurance protects for the unknown and unexpected. Most plans will not cover the costs associated with required PCR tests as these are a known cost of travel. 

What should I consider while I’m away?

Be sure to stay apprised of health and travel advisories at your destination while you’re travelling. Things can change rapidly, and you’ll want to stay informed of evolving COVID-19 transmission activity, public health measures, and personal protective requirements. You’ll also want to check for any changes to departure requirements that may impact your return journey. 

What should I expect when I return home?

Beyond planning for the PCR test requirements, you’ll need to download and use the ArriveCAN app. This app is where you’ll submit your contact information and travel details, vaccination information, pre-entry test results, and your quarantine plan. You may be required to take an arrival test as well upon re-entry to Canada and if you’re travelling with children under the age of 12, you’ll also need to plan for them to not attend school, camp, or daycare for the 14 days following your return to Canada. 

You’ll find the full list of current requirements, exemptions, monitoring and testing protocols, and how the Government of Canada defines being fully vaccinated at travel.gc.ca.

Travel safe!