Manulife has updated its pandemic travel policy, increasing its out-of-country medical coverage for travellers that are fully vaccinated, the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday (May 30).
According to a memo sent to travel advisors on Friday, Canada’s largest insurer has increased emergency coverage for COVID-19 and related expenses to $5 million from $1 million for people who have received both of their shots and have completed the required wait time for full immunization.
Fully-vaxxed travellers will continue to receive payouts of up to $150 a day for up to 14 days should they test positive for COVID-19 while travelling abroad and be required to quarantine.
The update paints a picture of how post-pandemic travel may play out for vaxxed and non-vaxxed people once borders open up and travel restrictions ease.
For instance: under Manulife’s new plan, travellers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be able to access the $150/day quarantine benefit.
Those who are unvaccinated will still, however, be able to access $1 million in COVID-19 coverage – just as long as they are travelling by land.
Manulife first announced its COVID-19 travel coverage in September, unveiling a specialized policy for Canadians travelling out-of-country during the global pandemic.
In addition to offering Emergency Medical coverage for situations such as falling ill due to COVID-19 while travelling abroad, the policy also includes “Trip Interruption” benefits in case a traveller is required to quarantine while in destination.
Cruising & vax passports
However, once Ottawa removes this advisory, Manulife will provide $5 million in coverage for fully-vaxxed cruise travellers.
To access the new benefits, Manulife customers will be required to show proof of vaccination at the time of their claim, which raises the question of how Canada’s yet-to-unveiled vaccine certification program will expedite the process.
Fully vaccinated travellers are expected to gain access to a range of insurance and border-crossing benefits once Canada commits to reopening its aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
Last week, a federally-appointed COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel published a detailed study of science-based recommendations for easing border and quarantine measures.
The report, compiled by epidemiology and virology experts, calls for the discontinuation of Ottawa’s mandatory hotel quarantine program, for one.
The panel also outlines a possible strategy for easing restrictions for vaccinated, partially vaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers.
For unvaccinated travellers, the committee suggests Canada maintain its current 72-hour, pre-departure PCR test requirement and testing on arrival protocol – minus mandatory hotel quarantine, which currently only applies to international air arrivals.
For partially vaccinated travellers, it recommends home quarantine until a negative test result is received on arrival.
But travellers that can show proof of full vaccination should be allowed to skip their pre-departure test and quarantine requirements, the panel says (a PCR test on arrival should still be conducted, however, for surveillance reasons).
While federal officials have already rejected the advice of the panel – Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, last Thursday, confirmed that current border and quarantine rules will remain in place – the report will influence future decisions on travel, said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Friday.
“[The report] is really going to provide good insight into our next considerations and next steps,” said Alghabra, speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT).
Canadians can expect to see “adjustments” to border and quarantine measures “in the coming weeks” as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccination rates increase, Minister Alghabra said.
And Canada seems to be on the right path.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, on Friday, said Canada is making important progress in lowering its COVID-19 case counts.
“Over the past month, things have taken a great turn for the better,” Dr. Tam told journalists on Friday. “Our efforts have got us well and truly over the peak of the third wave nationally and heading for a much better summer, if we can stay the course.”
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