Canada insurers deny trip cancellation coverage for coronavirus

Agence France-Presse . Ottawa | Published: 23:10, Mar 06,2020


Air France, Air Canada and Air Transat announced that passengers will be allowed to postpone or cancel flights booked in March, free of charge. — AFP photo

Two major insurance companies in Canada will no longer refund the costs of trips cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, public broadcaster CBC said on Thursday.

Travellers with basic trip cancellation insurance are usually covered if after booking a flight, the government issues a warning to avoid certain destinations.

But Manulife and TuGo, according to internal memos and alerts sent to insurance brokers and travel agents cited by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, will no longer pay out claims due to a travel advisory or concerns over the virus spreading.

‘We’ve identified COVID-19 as a known circumstance,’ TuGo spokeswoman Melissa Kaerne told CBC. ‘That means it is no longer considered sudden and unexpected, as it is a global health issue.’

The change to its travel cancellation insurance, which had been designed for unexpected mishaps, went into effect on Wednesday.

An internal Manulife memo obtained by the public broadcaster showed that insurer was taking a similar stance starting on Friday.

Neither company immediately replied to AFP requests for comment.

Air France, Air Canada and Air Transat, meanwhile, announced that passengers will be allowed to postpone or cancel flights booked in March, free of charge.

This new flexibility is meant to reassure travellers and ‘allow them to book their next trip with confidence,’ a spokeswoman for Air Transat said in an email.

Across the world, 3,300 people have died from the virus. There have been 96,414 infections in 84 countries and territories, according to AFP’s latest toll based on official sources.

The Canadian government has issued advisories against non-essential travel to the main countries affected — China, Iran, northern Italy and parts of South Korea.

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