In Your Corner: If You’re Traveling This Summer, Should You Get Travel Protection, Travel Insurance, or Both? † Money Matters

Canadian families are gearing up to travel this summer — many for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, more than two-thirds of us plan to travel between May and October.

But as COVID-19 continues to escalate, many travelers are once again concerned about the possibility of unexpectedly having to cancel their trip at the last minute.

Amid the uncertainty, travel agents are promoting travel protection add-ons, while insurance providers are promoting their travel insurance plans.

But what’s the difference between the two – and do you need either one for your upcoming vacation?

Travel Protection usually allows you to waive cancellation or change fees for your trip if you become ill, and covers lost luggage compensation, says Megan Honan, a Toronto-based travel writer.

Travel insurance, on the other hand, usually covers all that plus additional costs, such as medical emergencies, natural disasters — even accidental death, she says.

“I usually go with comprehensive travel insurance, but I think it depends on several factors, such as family size, age, and the type of trip you’re taking,” Honan says.

Travel protection plans often vary widely in what they cover, Honan says, and travelers should review all the terms and conditions before purchasing such a plan.

And while Honan uses the comprehensive travel insurance provided through her credit card, she says others considering that option should check the fine print, noting that not all policies cover other family members.

Dorian Werda, vice president of operations at the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), emphasizes that if travelers decide to purchase travel insurance from a travel provider or agency, they should not lose health insurance if they travel outside the province.

“Some people may be comfortable taking the cancellation insurance from the suppliers, but they certainly also take out-of-province health insurance,” she says. “Especially with the new normal, you want to make sure you’re fully covered.”

At the very least, Werda says travelers should ensure they go through a TICO-regulated travel agency or service provider, which is under provincial oversight and has an established standard of consumer protection.

“When consumers book their services through an Ontario-registered agency or website, they are automatically protected by a compensation fund if the services they purchase are not provided due to bankruptcy or insolvency,” she says.

Joshua Chong is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach Joshua by email: [email protected]

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