A recent survey conducted by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) found that 80 per cent of Canadians plan to travel in 2021, but most do not plan to cross borders anytime soon.
The survey of 1,000 Canadians revealed that 53 per cent of Canadians will only begin making cross-border travel plans when a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
Results found that barring a vaccine, 74 per cent of respondents want carriers, from airlines to trains, to block off seating or operate below maximum capacity to allow for physical distancing before they feel comfortable booking any travel.
Sixty-two per cent of Canadians also want assurances from their travel health insurance providers that they have appropriate coverage should they or their travel companions' contract COVID-19 while on vacation.
"The travel health insurance industry evolved dramatically at the pandemic's outset when March Break travel was interrupted. Support centres became the only resource for travellers scrambling to return," said Will McAleer, THIA's Executive Director and spokesperson. "The travel insurance industry is responding to consumers' needs for assurances and a growing number of our members are offering specialized COVID-19 coverage, either within or as a rider to their policies. Many companies are waiting for the Canadian government to reduce the level three travel advisory before offering new insurance products."
Twenty-nine per cent of survey respondents are willing to travel outside of Canada. Their biggest concern with travelling outside of Canada includes questions around returning safely.
Of those who said they plan to travel in 2021, 25 per cent said that they would answer untruthfully to COVID-19 screening questions in order to board their flight home.
Golden rules of insurance
THIA recommends always following the golden rules of travel health insurance before you leave for your vacation:
Know your policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies. Make sure to ask your provider about extended coverage options for COVID-19, recent policy updates or changes.
Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions.
Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Find a policy that is specifically tailored to your trip.
Know your rights - the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities will help provide all travelling Canadians with additional confidence in their travel insurance purchase knowing their company is supporting their rights as a consumer and making them aware of their responsibilities.
The 2020 Smart Traveller Survey was conducted in October 2020, polling 1,000 responses across Canada, ranging from ages 18 to 60+.