PRACTISING SAFE TRAVEL

Industry Experts Highlight Need for Insurance for Domestic Travel

While many insurance companies now offer COVID-19 coverage as part of their travel packages, there may be a need for additional insurance when it comes to domestic tourism.

Until COVID, most Canadians never bothered with extra health insurance for domestic travel.

That could soon change.

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Rates.ca, a financial product comparison site, in the three years before the pandemic, only 40 per cent of Canadians who travelled outside of the country purchased travel insurance.

That number was halved for domestic travel. Just 21 per cent of vacationers planning an out-of-province/territory trip were likely to purchase travel insurance, according to a survey from consumer data consolidator Statista.com released in MAR, 2021.

An article in the Globe and Mail points out the kinds of insurance that, while not explicitly pandemic-related, are certainly necessary safeguards for Canadians’ domestic travel - especially in a post-pandemic Canada.

That includes trip cancellation and trip interruption for reimbursing prepaid or non-refundable expenses if the vacation has to be canceled prior to departure, or for the costs associated with the unexpected ending of a trip.

The big pitfall for Canadian travellers planning trips inside of Canada, however, is to assume that provincial insurance coverage will provide all the coverage a traveller needs in the case of a travel emergency.

Brad Dance, chief customer officer at Canadian-owned insurance company TUGO offers this advice to domestic Canadian travellers: “Know your policy and know your health.. Going to the hospital isn’t an issue for Canadians, but the use of an ambulance, access to private hospital rooms or costs relating to travel companions aren’t covered. Travel insurance takes care of all those costs.”

Dance also says that - given the difference in risk - insurance costs and coverage will differ between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. The vaccinated, he says, will obviously obtain “preferable policy conditions” over the unvaccinated.

Those differences could be substantial. For his own company TUGO, a possible travel insurance plan of the same cost would include $5-million in coverage for fully vaccinated people, compared with only $500,000 or $1 million of coverage for those who are not.

Whether or not a travel advisor’s clients have booked domestic travel with them, reaching out to customers to remind them of the need for additional domestic travel insurance can help cement the client-advisor relationship - and maybe even a travel insurance sale.

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