Once COVID-19 hit full force this spring, Toronto residents Michael Schneider and his wife, Debra, cancelled their plans to see their grandchildren in Calgary and Atlanta, Ga.

While the Canada-U.S. border is still closed to non-essential travel, the Schneiders were able to reschedule their Calgary visit for late July. Along with their airline tickets, they made sure to purchase interprovincial travel insurance.

“We were concerned because of COVID, since we’re retired and no longer have insurance through work,” said Schneider.

They had purchased their tickets with a credit card, so Schneider first checked to see if the medical insurance the card provided included coverage for COVID-19. The bank that issued the card indicated it would, but Schneider wanted to be sure so he contacted the insurer directly and discovered that the bank was incorrect; COVID-19 wasn’t covered.

Interestingly, even prior to the pandemic, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) did not cover all out-of-province medical expenses, but it wasn’t something most travellers considered. According to the Ontario government’s website:

“When you show your valid Ontario health card in another Canadian province or territory, you will be covered for some of the same services you’re covered for in Ontario including:

  • physician services (e.g. visit to a walk-in clinic)
  • services provided in a public hospital (e.g. emergency, diagnostic, laboratory). Any service or treatment you receive in another Canadian province or territory must be medically necessary for it to be covered by OHIP.”

In response to the Star’s query about COVID-19 coverage, the Ministry of Health responded:

“In keeping with the requirements of the Canada Health Act, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan provides coverage for insured physician and insured hospital services when Ontario residents are temporarily in another province or territory or moving to another province or territory and serving an interprovincial waiting period before coverage takes effect. This coverage does not extend to other services such as ambulance transport, home care, prescription drugs, or additional services that may be funded when the patient is in Ontario.

“Reciprocal hospital billing arrangements exist between all provinces and territories to facilitate payment of these services. For insured physician services, all provinces and territories, except Quebec, participate in a reciprocal medical billing arrangement. If an insured Ontario resident is billed directly for an out-of-province hospital or physician service, they may submit the receipts to the ministry for consideration of reimbursement.”

Schneider and his wife decided to take no chances, especially in these uncertain times. They are members of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), so they looked into CAA’s travel medical insurance and discovered that CAA offers a yearly plan for travel within Canada that includes COVID-19 coverage.

Elliott Silverstein, the director of government relations for CAA South Central Ontario, confirmed that their emergency medical coverage plan includes coverage for COVID-19. Orion Travel Insurance underwrites CAA policies nationwide, so wherever in Canada you purchase one, you obtain the same coverage.

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