Canadian carrier WestJet announced on September 25th that its customers traveling to, through, or from the United States are now eligible for COVID-19 travel insurance coverage. Previously, the airline’s complimentary coverage was limited to travel to or from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe while explicitly excluding the United States. Another new change is that this insurance coverage is being doubled, from C$100,000 to C$200,000.
Coverage amount doubled and includes United States flights
This COVID-19 travel insurance applies to both air-only and WestJet vacation reservations and covers guests up to C$200,000 – equivalent to roughly US$149,400.
Do you already have a WestJet flight booked? Depending on when you booked your journey, you may be covered as this policy applies retroactively to include all bookings made as of September 18th, 2020. What’s more, the policy will increase by C$100,000 and include up to a maximum of C$200,000 at no additional charge to eligible guests.
Any WestJet air-only reservation including WestJet Vacations bookings for travel to and from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe (including U.K.) and inbound to Canada will be eligible for the coverage for up to 21 days for travel into and including August 31, 2021 through new partner TuGo®. For one-way travel reservations, coverage is available for up to seven days.
The fine print and coverage details
According to the airline, who’s coverage is provided via Canadian travel insurance company TuGo, the COVID-19 coverage is as follows:
- Emergency medical-related expenses for eligible guests with COVID-19 while outside of Canada (or for visitors traveling to Canada) for up to a maximum limit of C$200,000 per insured person if they have tested positive or have been diagnosed for COVID-19 while on a trip.
- Trip interruption coverage if the Canadian government’s travel advisory changes to “Avoid all travel” (level 4) while at any of the travel destinations.
Included are the following ‘features’ of the coverage:
- Medical and related expenses are covered. This includes medical treatment in hospital if a guest tests positive for and is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip.
- Emergency transportation back to Canada or home country (including up to C$5,000 for repatriation in case of death).
- Quarantine meals and commercial accommodation expenses up to C$150/day (or up to C$300/day per family) to a maximum of 14 days.
- Up to C$500 combined for a one-way economy flight home, unexpected meals, and commercial accommodation expenses.
As noted previously, this travel insurance is automatically included at the time of purchase on WestJet flights or vacation packages on or after September 18th, 2020, for travel between September 18th, 2020, and August 31st, 2021.
This coverage is only valid for Canadian residents flying outside of Canada, who are covered by a valid provincial government health insurance plan, or visitors to Canada flying into Canada on WestJet (including codeshare flights booked and ticketed by WestJet).
Furthermore, coverage is only valid for customers who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 30 days before departure, and those who have not shown symptoms of COVID-19 in the 14 days before departure.
Exclusions apply to this coverage, and those traveling should know that this is not available for travel including cruises. Full coverage details can be found on WestJet’s COVID-19 insurance webpage.
A lack of insurance has been a travel barrier
The Canadian government’s current travel advisories have resulted in most standard travel insurance policies being made invalid or at least limiting coverage. As the government has advised against all international travel, most policies have included terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions that will not cover travel due to the official government warnings. This has been a deciding factor for many, as mentioned by WestJet:
“Our research shows that a lack of COVID insurance is a considerable barrier to travel and our guests were seeking the inclusion of U.S. destinations to our travel insurance offering…Eligible guests travelling to and from the destinations we serve can now have an added layer of confidence knowing they are covered for up to $200,000 CAD against unforeseen medical costs related to COVID-19 when booking with WestJet.” –Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer
Does this latest update in WestJet’s policy change your mind about traveling? Let us know in the comments.