February 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Does your travel insurance cover it?

Is COVID-19 reason enough to put away your passport and unpack your bags? Let’s see what travel insurance has to offer in such a situation.

How to know what the travel risks are

The World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada are closely monitoring the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Public Health Agency evaluates the risk of a coronavirus outbreak at 3 on a scale of 4. This means that you should avoid non-essential travel.

When the risk is raised to 4, this means avoid all travel.

For what countries will it be possible for me to cancel my travel plans?

For information on the countries for which you will be able to cancel your trip and be reimbursed, consult the travel advisories issued by the Canadian government.

To be reimbursed, you must have trip cancellation and interruption insurance and both these conditions must be met:

  • The travel risk level set by the Canadian government must be 3 or 4. 
  • Your trip falls during the same period that the travel advisory is in effect. 

To submit a claim, call your travel insurance company's assistance service, which will ask you to send all the necessary invoices and receipts.

Hotel accommodations and airline tickets could be reimbursed to you if they are not refunded by the travel company.

I’m planning to go anyway

Your travel insurance will not cover you despite the government’s notice.

I booked my trip after the travel advisory

Reimbursement, cancellation or repatriation will not be possible in this case. 

I have insurance with my credit card or group insurance

Coverage will depend on the card issuer and your group Insurance.

Contact them directly to find out what is covered. 

I want to make alternative travel arrangements

Some airlines, like Air Canada, will allow you to change your China flight to another destination. 

Contact your airline to see what options are available to you. 

I’m travelling somewhere else

Unless the Canadian government issues non-essential travel advisories for other destinations, your travel insurance will not be cover you should you decide to cancel your trip.

This means that if you want to cancel your trip to the United States, it will be at your expense. 


Some insurers offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance that covers most unexpected situations that would prevent you from travelling or that would force you to be repatriated.

If the Canadian government were to issue a travel advisory for your destination, after you booked a trip and purchased trip cancellation and interruption insurance, this too would qualify as a valid reason to submit a claim.