Manulife unveils COVID 19 related travel insurance in face of advisories

By Christopher Reynolds

Manulife Financial Corp. is offering COVID-19-related travel insurance for Canadians who take international and domestic trips, eliciting mixed reactions from the industry.

The policy, slated to roll out in October, will provide emergency medical coverage that includes the coronavirus and related conditions.

It will also provide some coverage linked to trip interruptions or cancellations in the event of quarantine, Manulife said in a release Wednesday.

The new “pandemic travel plan” includes visits to regions subject to a level-three travel advisory, which warns against non-essential travel and which Canada has issued for all countries.

The nation’s largest insurer follows some smaller providers in offering medical travel insurance that covers COVID-19, including the Canadian Association of Blue Cross in Ontario and Quebec. Trip interruptions are not covered under Blue Cross plans.

The Manulife plan includes emergency medical coverage up to $200,000 for COVID-19 and related conditions after a positive test result as well as emergency air transport to return home.

That ceiling is a far cry from the $5 million in emergency medical expenses the company covers for non-coronavirus health issues.

“Is the limit of $200,000 sufficient for more serious cases in places like the United States, where the medical expenses are astronomical?” asked insurance lawyer Sivan Tumarkin.

“We’ve heard about these cases of people who are hospitalized on ventilators for days, weeks, who are close to death and it takes them months, perhaps, to recover.”

Exclusions based on pre-existing conditions are another concern. Manulife has not yet released details about the new plan or how health conditions such as asthma or lung disease might factor in to coverage availability.

“I’m happy that these coverages are coming because people want to travel and we need insurance, but my thing would be just release the policy, release the verbiage,” Tumarkin said.

“The devil is in the details.”

New insurance offers that arguably incentivize travel fly in the face of authorities urging Canadians to stay home, says Marty Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc., a Toronto-based company that specializes in travel insurance.

“It’s good, it’s a step in the right direction. But why are we encouraging travelling and covering COVID if our own Canadian government is extending the U.S. border closure,” he asked, referring to Manulife’s plan. “That’s a little contradictory.”

At least one Manulife rival seems to agree. Orion Travel Insurance Co., a major travel insurance provider owned by CAA, “is not proactively encouraging international travel while advisories remain in effect,” CAA spokesman Elliott Silverstein said in an email.

Orion’s emergency medical insurance plan will include COVID-19-related costs when Global Affairs Canada brings travel advisories to a lower level, he said.

Air Canada and WestJet now offer free travel insurance with a $100,000 coverage limit on flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and, in WestJet’s case, Europe.

Firestone said he is concerned about companies “luring passengers…with this false sense of security.”

WestJet has highlighted “peace of mind” through safety protocols and the no-charge insurance, which applies to reservations made starting this Friday.

“We know Canadians are seeking reassurance and our guests can now have confidence knowing they are protected against unforeseen medical costs related to the pandemic when choosing to book with WestJet,” chief commercial officer Arved von zur Muehlen said in a statement last week.

Manulife’s plan also covers daily quarantine-related costs of $150 per person or $300 per family for up to two weeks.

Basic travel insurance plans generally don’t cover pandemics, with viral exclusions comprising a part of various insurance policies since the SARS epidemic.

“The pandemic has had extraordinary impacts on the day-to-day lives of Canadians, and at Manulife, our top priority remains the health and safety of our customers, employees, partners and communities. This specialized travel insurance is aimed at helping protect what matters most,” Alex Lucas, head of insurance at Manulife, said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020

SGI’s reminds drivers to stay safe this Labour Day weekend

SGI’s reminds drivers to stay safe this Labour Day weekend

Let’s face it — 2020 has been pretty darned hard. It’s only natural to try to squeeze the last bit of fun out of summer this Labour Day long weekend.

Regardless of whether your long weekend plans take you to the lake or a friend’s backyard, SGI wants to make sure everyone gets there and back without any problems.

With heavier traffic, the risk of a crash doubles over long weekends, but there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself and other road users safe:

  •  #SlowDown – driving faster than the speed limit or than road conditions allow can affect your control and the time you have to make decisions. Obey posted speed limits. Construction season isn’t over, so keep an especially close eye out for workers in the #OrangeZone.  The road is their office.  And, with harvest underway, be aware that you might encounter farmers moving their equipment between fields, so be sure to slow down and give them space until they are off the roads.


  • #DriveSober – Never drive impaired and #BeAGoodWingman by preventing others from driving impaired as well. While we have made strong progress in reducing impaired driving in Saskatchewan, the fight isn’t over.  We want people to always make a plan for a safe ride home, and do it before they crack that beer (or inhale that brownie).


  • #BuckleUp – using a seatbelt is a simple behaviour that can save you from serious injury or death in a collision. Need a visual? This video shows what happens to unrestrained occupants in a roll-over (only dummies were severely harmed in the making of that video).  It’s hard to believe in the year 2020, police still catch several hundred drivers every month not wearing their seatbelt.


  • #JustDrive – Distracted driving penalties went up in February, but there’s a human cost to driver distraction and inattention, as the leading cause of injury.  Most distracted driving tickets result from phone use.  We have some good tips on what to do with your phone before you drive here.

From everyone at SGI, have a fantastic long weekend! /

Westland Insurance Acquires Four New Brokerage Firms

Source: Westland Insurance Group Ltd.

SURREY, British Columbia, Sept. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westland Insurance Group Ltd. (“Westland”) is pleased to announce the closing of four acquisitions, effective August 31, 2020. The new retail offices, which are located in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, support Westland’s expansion strategy to serve more communities across the country.

“This is an exciting time for Westland as we continue our strategic expansion across Canada. These acquisitions strengthen our presence in western Canada, and, for the first time, provide us the opportunity to support clients in Manitoba,” said Jason Wubs, CEO of Westland Insurance. “These are all client-focussed agencies with deep roots in their communities, and they are perfectly aligned to Westland’s core values. Their professional advisors will continue to provide the same great service, and we are excited to welcome our new team members to the Westland family.”


King Insurance:
Founded in 1962, King Insurance is a family-owned brokerage located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its professional insurance advisors are experts in residential, auto, business, life and disability insurance.


Johnson Agencies:
Johnson Agencies has served the insurance needs of Leduc, Alberta, and the surrounding areas since 1967. They provide residential, auto, recreation, commercial, farm, travel and life insurance.

Hedderick Insurance Agencies:
Located in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Hedderick Insurance Agencies has been serving clients since 1949. They provide residential, commercial, recreation, farm and auto insurance.

British Columbia

Nauroth & Associates:
Family-owned Nauroth & Associates has been serving the Prince George, BC, area for over 25 years. Their expert advisors provide the community with auto, residential, commercial, travel and life insurance.

With these acquisitions, Westland Insurance will be adding four branches and over 30 employees across Canada. Post-acquisition, Westland will have nearly 1500 employees and more than 120 offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

About Westland Insurance Group

Westland Insurance Group is a client-focused and community-based Property & Casualty insurance brokerage established in 1980 in Ladner, B.C. The company is one of Canada’s largest independent P&C insurance distributors with over 120 offices throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Westland is considered a leader in home, business, farm and auto insurance.

Air Canada first out the gate with new COVID-19 related insurance

Read more

SGI CANADA appoints Larry Nickel as VP, Corporate Business Development


Sept. 1, 2020

SGI CANADA appoints Larry Nickel as VP, Corporate Business Development

Larry Nickel has joined SGI CANADA in the role of Vice President, Corporate Business Development.

In his new role, Larry will be responsible for corporate strategy regarding broker distribution – including contracts, compensation, incentives and training programs. He will also take the lead on managing relationships with some of SGI CANADA’s larger brokerages.

Larry has over 25 years of P&C insurance experience with a strong track record in sales & distribution, broker relations, product management and underwriting.

His most recent role was at Pembridge Insurance, where he was Regional Director for Alberta & Atlantic Canada. Before that, Larry was Vice President of Underwriting, Sales & Distribution for Heartland Farm Mutual in Ontario. During his career, he has built an extensive network of industry contacts at both the company and broker level.

In addition to his industry experience, Larry holds an MBA from Wilfried Laurier University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

“Larry is a great fit for our team,” said Paul Mlodzik, EVP and Chief Customer Officer for SGI. “His broker experience and depth of insurance knowledge will be a major asset as SGI CANADA continues to grow – particularly outside of Saskatchewan.”

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to take on this new challenge at an organization with such a strong culture,” said Nickel.

Larry joins SGI CANADA effective Sept. 1 and will work out of SGI’s Edmonton corporate office.  He will also spend time with his team in Regina and visiting broker partners when business travel resumes.




SGI – Speeding in the #OrangeZone is seriously concerning

SGI – Speeding in the #OrangeZone is seriously concerning

There’s an old joke that there are only two seasons in Saskatchewan; winter and road construction. But law enforcement weren’t joking around when they wrote 224 tickets for violations in work zones in July.

Disobeying speed limits in highway construction zones is a serious concern. Passing highway workers — or highway equipment with its warning lights flashing — in a marked construction zone means drivers are required to slow to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit. For July, police across Saskatchewan reported:

  • 195 tickets were issued for exceeding 60 km/h when passing highway workers or occupied highway equipment within a work zone,
  • 15 tickets were issued for exceeding 60 km/h when passing a highway worker or flag person,
  • 2 tickets for exceeding 60 km/h when passing occupied highway equipment,
  • 4 tickets for exceeding 60 km/h when passing highway equipment with warning lights in operation, and
  • 8 tickets for failing to obey the directions of a flag person.

The July Traffic Safety Spotlight focused on providing a safe working environment for the people who build and fix our roads.  Watch this video with Shantel Lipp of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association where she explains the perils faced by construction workers from speeding and reckless drivers.

Summer is not over, and neither is construction season. Speeding through construction zones results in extra-expensive tickets (driving 100 km/h in a 60 km/h orange zone will cost the offender $1,008), so when you #SeeOrangeSlowDown and use the few extra moments of your journey to think about all the things you can do with the money you didn’t have to spend on a ticket.

Law enforcement also reported the following results in July:

  • 7,333 other aggressive driving or speeding offences;
  • 798 distracted driving offences, including 684 for cellphone use while driving; and
  • 609 seatbelt and child restraint offences. (If you’re not wearing a seatbelt, you greatly increase your risk of being ejected like this — and seriously hurt or killed — in a collision.

Police also reported 474 impaired driving offences in July, including 382 Criminal Code offences.While impaired driving collisions, injuries and fatalities in Saskatchewan have declined over the past decade, the fight against impaired driving is not over, and enforcement remains very strong.  SGI and law enforcement continue to focus on impaired driving with the August Traffic Safety Spotlight. However you choose to enjoy the final days of summer, always ensure you make a plan for a safe ride home.

Join SGI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where the discussion will continue with Saskatchewan drivers who want to #DriveSober. /


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