Booking travel has become a big trip.
With the new Omicron variant, countries around the world are considering a rethink of their openness to foreign travel.
The Canada-U.S. border still has some requirements for testing in certain circumstances.
But the emergence of the new COVID-19 mutation could make those requirements even more strict.
“Travel right now, it is not for the faint of heart,” said Will McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association.
“You have to be prepared for changes in schedule, taking time out to make sure you’re adhering to your return requirements like testing.”
What should Canadians do if they have already booked future travel to the U.S. and now want to buy cancellation insurance in the event borders once again slam shut.
“Can you get coverage for cancelling a trip now because border requirements and restrictions have changed?” McAleer said. “The answer is: it is going to be very difficult to get that, and shopping around is very important to do that.
“If there have been border restrictions or things like that change, chances are they won’t cover you,” McAleer said. “Cancellation, in general, is very difficult to get for anything related to COVID, especially, government-related border closures.”
His best advice is to “get the insurance at the time you are booking the trip, and then make sure you are asking the questions about what the coverage is.”
The situation for Canada’s estimated 1 million snowbirds is not considered as fraught with travel risk.
Most of them — according to the Canadian Snowbirds Association — are already in the U.S., with many staying for six months. Perhaps, enough time to ride out this latest variant wave.
Still, spokesperson Evan Rachkovsky said, all travellers need to do their homework before embarking on any trip.
“Particularly in light of COVID-19 variants, so much is unknown about the Omicron variant, and governments may implement restrictions in an effort to curb the spread. So people need to be ready for that,” Rachkovsky said.
One potential risk for all travellers, beyond having a trip disrupted by border flux: falling sick while away.
“What we are noticing is that some providers are putting caps on COVID-19 related claims,” Rachkovsky said. “Anything COVID19 related may be capped at say $100,000 or $200,000 which just isn’t sufficient at this time.”
With Omicron now firmly on the map, the risk of falling ill during travel is further heightened.