Tour+Med travel insurance began covering the risk and expenses associated with COVID-19 on September 8, in a “COVID-19 rider” that insured can add to their travel insurance contract.

Tour+Med’s travel insurance and its rider are insured by LS-Travel, a subsidiary of Humania Assurance. Eligibility for the rider is determined by a new digital tool on the insurer’s website. The app calculates the risk according to the client’s target destination, by country or by state for the United States.

Measured in real time

The digital tool uses an algorithm to obtain its results, which are displayed on two indicators that resemble odometers. For each destination that the insured selects, a needle shows the current severity of COVID-19 cases, and a second chart illustrates case trends. If a destination has seen a sharp rise in cases but the trend is decreasing, the rider can be purchased. Florida would be one example. If a destination has a fairly stable situation but the trend is toward a sharp increase, a rider would not be granted. France is one such country.

On its website, Tour+Med confirms that the two indicators are updated in real time and are calculated based on a wide range of historical data. This way, clients can gauge the situation at various points before the departure, “and make a better decision,” the insurer says.

Personalizing risk

Tour+Med Vice-president Pierre St-Onge told the Insurance Portal in an exclusive interview that he wanted to personalize COVID-19 protection according to the destination of the client’s choice, rather than covering this risk for all destinations or, like most insurers, not covering it at all. To date, only a handful of insurers cover this risk.

St-Onge explained that in the Canadian industry, travel insurance does not apply to any travel following a federal government advisory issued due to the risks of war, riots or other problems. “When the federal government told Canadians to avoid all nonessential travel outside of Canada due to COVID-19, all the exclusions were activated by default,” he says. “After six months, we decided to make our coverage more customized because the situation has evolved. It has improved considerably in some countries.”

Controlled risk

The algorithm makes a recommendation but judgment also comes into play, on the part of both Tour+Med and the client. “We are offering the rider if the risk of COVID-19 at the destination is relatively under control. We support clients who take the necessary measures. I don’t think that someone wants to take a two-week vacation in Mexico and get slapped with a 14-day quarantine when they get back. However, I think that a traveller who plans to spend several months in Florida is unlikely to catch COVID-19, because that person will continue to take the same precautions down there,” St-Onge says.

All the same, “if both needles for a destination are in the red zone, the client will not be covered,” St-Onge adds. Once a decision is made to cover COVID-19, “it is spelled out in black and white in the rider,” he says. The Tour+Med website states that the COVID-19 rider eliminates the pandemic situation from the exclusion on non-essential travel. The insurer behind the Tour+Med product is confident. “We are approving Florida because of the trend. If the situation were to worsen after the insured leaves, we are willing to live with this risk. We are taking a manageable and quantifiable risk,” St-Onge explains.

Healthcare and grocery deliveries

The rider provides coverage in case of a medical emergency linked to COVID-19. If the insured receives a COVID-19 diagnosis while abroad and must observe a quarantine imposed at the destination outside of a hospital, they can receive $100 per day of quarantine up to a maximum of C$1,400. Insured are entitled to a benefit of up to $100 for a taxi ride to and from a testing centre. In addition, up to $500 is available for delivery of perishable goods, including groceries and restaurant orders.

The rider can also be extended. If the quarantine period goes beyond its expiration date, Tour+Med will automatically extend the policy period and the rider at no extra charge. The extension can range up to 72 hours after the quarantine period ends. The maximum automatic extension is 17 days. Benefits are payable only after insured return to their province of residence.

Reassuring snowbirds

On top of these benefits, insured can also access virtual consultations with a physician, a service that Tour+Med offers travellers to the United States (in English). “The vast majority of our clients travel to the US,” St-Onge explains. “We are focusing on snowbirds because they will soon need reassurance. We know that many of our clients do not spend their winter in Canada, and plan to fly south this year too.”