Free COVID-19 Travel Insurance Offered by Air Canada

A picture of a plan to denote Air Canada's free covid-19 travel insurance that is available for international travel.

Free COVID-19 travel insurance offered by Air Canada was in my email inbox today. It sounded interesting and I decided to take a closer look. In the email it said that if you book an international flight from now till the end of October 31, 2020, you will be eligible for this travel insurance which has been underwritten by Manulife.

So what is the purpose of this travel insurance promotion? Here’s what was said in the email, “We hope this new insurance, combined with Air Canada CleanCare+, our industry-leading biosafety measures, and our flexible change and cancellation policies, gives you peace-of-mind for your future international travel.” So what are the details of this coverage?

Free COVID-19 Travel Insurance Offered by Air Canada, Details

I clicked on the link in the email and was taken to Air Canada’s website where it had details of the travel insurance. The first thing I noticed was that the insurance would cover international travel up to April 12, 2021. It would cover emergency medical insurance and quarantine insurance due to COVID-19. This insurance is even offered to tickets booked with Aeroplan miles. What are some other requirements?

Other Eligibility Requirements

Here’s what was listed on the Air Canada’s website that was highlighted above:

-Passenger must be a Canadian resident with a valid provincial or territory government health insurance plan for the duration of the trip.

-Bookings including at least one Air Canada flight and on a new Air Canada ticket (code 014) issued between September 17, 2020 and October 31, 2020. You will qualify for coverage regardless of whether your first flight was operated by Air Canada or by one of Air Canada’s code share or interline partners so long as your booking was ticketed on Air Canada and includes at least one Air Canada flight (marketed or operated).

-Travel duration of up to 21 days.

-Travel must originate in Canada to any international destination (USA included) for which there is no Level-4 “avoid all travel” advisory in effect issued by the Canadian government at time of departure.

-There is no age restriction to be eligible for this coverage.

-Traveller must not be advised by a physician not to travel.

What Does the Free COVID-19 Insurance Cover?

Here’s what listed on the Air Canada website below:

CoverageLimit (CDN)
Medical Coverage after a COVID-19 positive test result in destinationUp to $200,000 CDN per insured
Quarantine expenses after a COVID-19 positive test result, denied entry or contact tracing in destination$150/day up to $2100 per person, or $300/day up to $4200 per family (Maximum duration of 14 days)
Emergency Air Transport to return you homeIncluded in $200,000 per insured
Repatriation due to deathUp to policy limits as outlined in the certificate of insurance
Level 3 Travel Advisory upgraded to Level 4 Travel Advisory by Canadian GovernmentUp to a combined $500 per person for: *return airfare* meals and accommodations

What’s Not Covered?

There are a few things Air Canada lists that it doesn’t cover as listed below:

-Travel booked for periods longer than 21 days (the entire trip is not eligible).

-Travel beyond April 12, 2021.

-Tickets purchased from another airline, even if that airline is a code-share partner airline of Air Canada, regardless of whether the flight is operated by Air Canada.

-Travel during your cruise dates, or any expenses related to your cruise.

-One-way tickets.

-Air Canada Vacations bookings are not eligible as they are subject to a separate complimentary COVID-19 insurance coverage and policy. More details here.

-Residents of any other country aside from Canada.

A Couple Areas of Caution regarding this new travel insurance

The insurance seems pretty good but I noticed a couple areas of caution. The first is in the travel advisory, where it says as long as the Canadian government has not deemed the place you are travelling to a level 4. However, the Canadian government has deemed all travel outside Canada a level 3 which means that we should avoid all non essential travel. What happens if the government changes the level of the place you are visiting to level 4? There is some coverage up to $500 for airfare, meals and accommodation. Is there any thing else? Also, what if this changes before you leave for your destination?

This also brings up the issue of should we even be travelling in the first place if the Canadian government says that there should not be any non essential travel. Is planning a trip to Europe for example essential? It is an interesting question for us to ponder.

The second thing to think about is the duration you are allowed. The insurance covers travel period of 21 days or less. If it is longer than 21 days, then the entire trip is not covered. This is tricky considering that many countries have a required 14 day quarantine period for people entering their country. If that is the case, your trip is essentially cut down to one week. That is a tight window. And what happens if there are delays at the airport and you are delayed for a day or two and you end up longer than 21 days? These are things to think about before making the decision that is right for you and your family.

Conclusion

The free COVID-19 travel insurance offered by Air Canada sounds interesting. However, as with anything, it is the details that matter. And so it is important to inform yourself as much as possible and weigh the pros and cons. Because at the end of the day, it is not only a trip you are considering but you are weighing the risks to your health. And that is a decision that should never be taken lightly. Stay safe everyone.

Aeroplan Rewards Program: is it Worth it?

Craving a vacation? Will Aeroplan help you get there sooner?

Is the Aeroplan rewards program worth joining? It’s an interesting question. Many would say yes as Aeroplan has about 5 million active members in its rewards program. And it makes sense as many of us love to travel and most of us like to receive some sort of reward or perk for our spending. It almost seems to be an ideal program, but is it? Let’s do a little digging to find out!

Income, Income, Income

Most rewards programs have certain criteria and Aeroplan is no different. You can apply for an Aeroplan credit card currently offered through TD Bank and CIBC. At TD Bank, you have the Aeroplan Visa Infinite credit card which currently has an offer of receiving up to 30,000 bonus Aeroplan miles. The first 15,000 miles are given to you when you make your first purchase on the credit card and an additional 15,000 miles is rewarded to you when you spend $1000 within the first 90 days after opening your account.

Sounds great! Where do I sign up? However, there is a catch, as this card requires you to have either $60,000.00 in annual personal income or $100,000.00 in annual household income. Currently, I do not have either scenario so I could not apply for this card. However, at CIBC, they have multiple Aeroplan credit cards including the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card where you only need to have $15,000.00 in household income. But with less income comes less benefits. First, you would only get 5000 Aeroplan miles when you sign up. Also, you would need to spend $1.50 to get 1 Aeroplan mile. Whereas on the Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, you only need to spend $1.00 to get 1 Aeroplan mile.

Plus, if you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, or at https://aircanada.com, you can get 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. You can even get twice the miles with the Infinite card if you shop at Aeroplan partners or online retailers. So from the comparison of two Aeroplan credit cards, this program seems to cater to people with larger incomes as you get more reward miles in the beginning and can earn more reward miles faster.

So How Does it Work?

As mentioned earlier, as you make purchases with your Aeroplan rewards credit card, you earn Aeroplan miles. The more miles you earn, the more you have to ‘spend’ – redeeming these miles for either flights or other merchandise.

How many miles do you need to redeem for Aeroplan rewards? If you go to the Aeroplan website and go to their rewards chart, it lists the miles you need to redeem your miles to go to a certain location. For example, if I wanted to travel to a province next to the one I live in, I would need to redeem 15,000 Aeroplan miles. If I wanted to travel to eastern Canada to visit my family for example, I would need to redeem 25,000 Aeroplan miles for an economy flight. If I wanted to travel to Australia, I would need to redeem 90,000 Aeroplan miles for an economy flight. You can also redeem at the Aeroplan online store for gift cards and other items. However, the selection is a bit thin as the main item for redemption for Aeroplan is flights.

How Long To Get Aeroplan Rewards?

Another interesting question. Let’s use my scenario to give you an idea. As mentioned earlier, I would qualify to get the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card. This means I would start off with 5000 Aeroplan reward miles. Suppose I wanted to save up my reward miles to visit my family in eastern Canada, I would need 25,000 Aeroplan miles to make the trip. So that means I would need to spend enough to get another 20,000 Aeroplan miles. With the card available to me, I can only earn 1 mile for every $1.50 I spend. This means that for me to earn 20,000 Aeroplan miles, I would need to spend $30,000.00. That’s a lot of money! How long would this take based on my current spending habits?

First, I could not use the credit card to pay for my rent which is my biggest expense, as they do not allow payment by credit card. So if I used my Aeroplan rewards credit card on all my other current expenses, it would take me over 2 years to earn enough miles to go on a flight to visit my family. That’s a long time! I could speed up the process and make more purchases, which would of course see my expenses go way up. I could also go to the Aeroplan store and purchase through Aeroplan’s partners and see if I can get more miles with purchases.

If I did not want to redeem my miles for a flight, I could go to the online store and purchase items such as the $100.00 Best Western Travel card for 14,000 Aeroplan miles. As you can see, it would take a long time to receive any Aeroplan rewards and you also run the risk of increasing your spending habits which has negative consequences.

Is Aeroplan the right program for me?

In my scenario, the answer is no. It would take me a long time to earn enough Aeroplan rewards miles to redeem for any flight based on my current spending habits. If I increased my spending habits, I run the risk of spending beyond my means and having a high balance on the credit card. This could be disastrous economically as the current interest rate on the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card is 19.99%. Also, why would I want to purchase a $100 gift card for 14,000 Aeroplan miles? This would mean I would have to spend $21,000.00 to get this reward. It makes no sense!

So, is the Aeroplan rewards program worth it? If you have a high income and you have a lot of expenditures (ie: you have a business and spend a lot for inventory) then this card can be quite beneficial to you. However, if you’re in a situation similar to mine and do not have a huge income and have modest spending habits, it is not worth it. It would be simpler and cheaper just to save up some money and find a deal on a travel site like Expedia if we wanted to travel. The Aeroplan rewards program is a popular program but it is not for everyone. It is definitely not for me.