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COVID-related travel insurance not guaranteed for trips abroad: specialist

WATCH: Travel insurance questions amid new COVID-19 public health recommendations

A travel insurance specialist is warning travellers to take extra precautions if they’re planning a trip abroad, as the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to surge around the world.

Canada’s new foreign travel advisory is causing “incredible issues” and “nightmare” scenarios for travellers, pushing some insurers to bring back a top-up pandemic plan rider for travellers who want to be covered for COVID-related expenses, Travel Secure president Martin Firestone told 680 CJOB on Thursday.

Firestone says his company’s been swamped with calls from concerned clients wondering whether their contracts still hold.

Read more: International travel advisory won’t stop Omicron spread, scientists say

Anyone already on their trip should be covered if they obtained insurance, he said, but those yet to travel out of the country should check with their insurer to make sure their policies aren’t voided.

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“Some insurers, I will warn you right now, have suggested that if you’re purchasing a policy after the advisory’s been put in place, which is Dec. 15, that you will not be covered for COVID and you need to either purchase a rider, a pandemic plan rider, or nothing is available period,” Firestone said.

“You have to be careful here because the last thing you want to do is go away, get COVID and then call your government and say, ‘Please help me. I need help.’ And then you know what they’re going to tell you, because they told you not to go.”

“Be very careful.”

Read more: Canadians told to not travel amid Omicron COVID-19 spread. But will they cancel plans?

People leaving the country should also watch for cancellation policies, Firestone said.

“If you’re cancelling trips, or planning trips and putting down deposits, look to the end user for help to get a refund – not a credit – if you can’t go because you can’t get to that country. So (ask) the airlines, ‘Can I cancel within 48 hours to get my money back, not a credit?’ To the AirBnB, to the tour company, to the hotel, ‘Will you give me back a refund if in fact I can’t make it there?’”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Omicron impact on holiday plans' COVID-19: Omicron impact on holiday plans
COVID-19: Omicron impact on holiday plans – Dec 16, 2021

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