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COVID-19 Travel Health Insurance: How to be Covered?

Travelling abroad changed a lot after COVID-19’s global outbreak. Since March 2020, most of the world has closed borders, and travelling became mostly available for urgent reasons.

After the latest vaccines’ approvals, many countries gradually eased their travel restrictions. Travelling is now much easier than it was a year ago.

We are all thankful for that, but the question is: Would I be covered against COVID-19’s medical expenses abroad?

Let’s get oriented first about how travel health insurance policies work.

Why do I need travel health insurance outside Canada?

  • Your local health insurance will not pay your medical expenses abroad.
  • Foreign hospitals can be expensive.
  • Foreign hospitals might have harsh requirements like paying the full amount of money prior to treatment and in cash.
  • The Canadian government would not step in to pay for your medical expenses.

Therefore, travelling abroad without proper travel health insurance can be a real-life nightmare with dangerous consequences.

What does a Canadian travel health insurance policy cover?

Before the pandemic era, basic travel health insurance policies usually covered the following:

  • Medical Evacuation
    • Expenses of medical evacuation to Canada, or the nearest destination with proper medical care.
  • Body Repatriation
    • Expenses of returning a body to Canada in case of death.
  • Emergency
    • Expenses of treatment in cases of medical emergencies

What might not be covered in a Canadian travel health insurance?

Before the pandemic era, basic travel health insurance policies didn’t usually cover the following:

  • Pre-existing Medical Conditions
    • Expenses of treatment of a pre-existing condition, if any. It must be written clearly and explicitly in the insurance policy.
  • Sports
    • Expenses of treatment of injuries resulting from participating in sporting activities.
  • Terrorism
    • Expenses of treatment of injuries caused by terrorism.

It is notable to mention that travel health insurance policies have no standard format. You always need to read the policy instructions well to know what you are exactly covered for. Some policies set a deductible, and other ones cover 100% of the expenses. It always varies.

What caused the debate about COVID-19’s travel health insurance coverage?

Our modern world has never faced a pandemic as critical as COVID-19 since the Spanish Flu outbreak between 1918 and 1920. Back then, travelling was not that common, and insurance was not the way it is now.

After 100 years of relative peace between humans and viruses, the world was unprepared for such a battle, including insurance providers. Insurance providers didn’t have enough experience in dealing with such situations. Most of the travel health insurance policies didn’t specify clearly the terms in case of pandemics. Simply because they never anticipated a pandemic that huge.

This explains the confusion and vagueness that surround the whole travel health insurance process worldwide regarding COVID-19

Would I be covered against COVID-19 abroad?

Right after the pandemic, most holders of travel health insurance policies were confused about whether or not they are covered against COVID-19. Many debates and disputes took place between insurance providers and holders for that matter.

After some time, most insurance providers started to officially include and write terms about coverage against COVID-19. But you still need to double-check before purchasing

As a current general case, most travel health insurance policies will cover COVID-19’s medical expenses abroad, but not the non-medical ones.

What are COVID-19’s non-medical expenses?

There are some non-medical expenses to COVID-19, most of them will not be covered. Some examples are:

  • Quarantine Costs
    • Accommodation expenses of obligatory quarantine, whether you got infected or not.
  • Delayed and Cancelled Flights
    • The current global situation might impose sudden travel restrictions. Some unfortunate travelers have been stuck abroad for a long time as there were no flights from their destinations back to Canada at the time. The expenses of forced extended accommodation will not be covered unless negotiated.


To sum up, rest assured that most travel health insurance policies would cover your medical expenses if you got infected by COVID-19 abroad and needed hospitalization. However, most indirect expenses would not be covered.