Some airlines are now offering free COVID-19 insurance
TORONTO -- Many people don't feel safe flying amid the COVID-19 pandemic and there are still government warnings in place against non-essential travel.
That is why airlines are now offering free COVID-19 insurance coverage.
But at least one travel expert says that may not be enough of a reason to book a flight anytime soon.
Martin Firestone, the president of Travel Secure, said, “I think insurance companies are looking to get back some lost sales that don't exist right now and the airlines are of course looking for business."
Taking a flight is more stressful these days with social distancing, mandatory temperature checks and having to wear a mask for the duration of a flight.
Now as summer comes to an end this is the time of year that many Canadians plan vacations to Mexico, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean, but due to COVID-19 many travelers may opt to stay home this winter.
In an effort to try filling seats, Air Canada and WestJet are now offering free COVID-19 insurance coverage on some flights of up to $100,000 and Manulife has announced it will roll out a COVID-19 policy in October that will provide up to $200,000 in coverage.
The coverage for someone testing positive for COVID-19 would pay for emergency hospital and medical costs, quarantine accommodations and transportation home via ambulance or air ambulance.
Firestone said people need to realize that if they get a serious case of COVID-19 while travelling in another country and are hospitalized and on a ventilator for weeks, the costs could add up to much more than the coverage currently being offered.
“A claim upward of a half a million dollars is a possibility and the insurance company’s exposure may be capped at $100,000 to $200,000. Who is going to pay the rest? That would be the consumer," said Firestone.
Firestone said COVID-19 insurance policies come at a time when borders to the U.S. remain closed and the Canadian government continues to warn against non-essential travel.
“I think this is a marketing plan that someone has devised, but a lot of thought has not really gone into it, because it totally goes against the government's position on travel at this time,” Firestone added.
Many Canadians will be tempted to book vacations to sunny destinations as the cold weather arrives, but Firestone said until travel advisories are lifted and there is a vaccine people may want to stay put.
“The next two or three months I'm suggesting to hold tight and stay home," Firestone said.
Even though some airlines are including free COVID-19 insurance coverage that is not the same as travel medical insurance. If you book a trip you still need to pay for that yourself in case something else happens while you're away.