Are you covered? How travel advisories affect your travel insurance

Are you covered? How travel advisories affect your travel insurance
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The federal government issued an updated travel advisory for Haiti, urging people to avoid all travel to the Caribbean country due to ongoing civil unrest that left more than 100 Canadians stranded for days.

Tourists and aid workers were unable to leave the country when demonstrators blocked major highways, protesting skyrocketing inflation and the government s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion-dollar Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.

Global Affairs warns that the security situation in Haiti could further deteriorate and that people should consider leaving by commercial means while they are available.

The story serves as a cautionary tale to Canadian travellers, one that may call for a closer look at your travel insurance policy.

If an avoid all travel advisory is issued for your destination -- after youve paid for your travel arrangements and insurance, but before you depart -- you may be covered under your trip cancellation policy should you decide to stay home.

Similarly, if the government were to upgrade the travel advisory to the region you had travelled to, or regions that were on your itinerary, you may be able to claim a portion of your expenses should you chose to return home. In some cases, you can claim non-refundable, unused trip arrangement for which you paid for, and transportation expenses associated with returning home early.

However, its important to take a good, hard look at your trip cancellation and interruption policy before you leave to know what youre entitled to.

For example, World Nomads -- a popular insurance option for adventurous travellers or backpackers -- requires that policy holders choose to have the most cost effective itinerary to return to your home province or departure point in the event that you decide to return because of travel advisories.

Its also important to note that if you choose to ignore Global Affairs warning about the country you are travelling to, it could impact your medical travel coverage. Many insurance companies will not honour medical claims made for injuries suffered in a country that the government has issued an avoid all travel or avoid all non-essential travel advisory for.

Global Affairs encourages Canadians to carefully research travel insurance plans before leaving the country, and doing the necessary research to understand the terms and conditions of your policy before packing your bags.

Its also recommended that you carry details of your insurance policy with you while travelling, and leave instructions with friends or relatives at home about how to contact your insurer in case of emergency.
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