Do Your International Students Have COVID-19 Coverage? | Vos étudiants étrangers sont-ils couverts contre la COVID-19?

This 2022/23 school year, StudyInsured™ will welcome new and returning international students, with full medical coverage from the day they arrive in Canada.

As with all StudyInsured™ health insurance plans, this includes illnesses and expenses related to COVID-19, during and after quarantine.

Be sure to check out our COVID-19 FAQ’S FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.

If you want to know more or have questions about your international student insurance coverage, contact us at helpline@studyinsured.com.

We are always here for you and your students.

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Cette année scolaire 2022-2023, StudyInsured™ accueillera les étudiants étrangers (nouveaux arrivants ou de retour au Canada) avec une couverture médicale complète dès le jour de leur arrivée au Canada.

Comme pour tous les régimes d’assurance maladie de StudyInsured™, cela inclut les maladies et les dépenses liées à la COVID-19, pendant et après la quarantaine.

N’oubliez pas de consulter notre FAQ COVID-19 POUR LES ÉTUDIANTS ÉTRANGERS.

Si vous voulez en savoir plus ou si vous avez des questions sur votre couverture d’assurance pour les étudiants étrangers, contactez-nous à l’adresse helpline@studyinsured.com.

Nous sommes toujours là pour vous et vos étudiants.

StudyInsured™ kicks off 2021 with newly streamlined, student-focused phone line, StudyInsured™ Assistance

PRESS RELEASE, TORONTO, February 1, 2021 – StudyInsured™ announced today the launch of StudyInsured™ Assistance, a single phone line providing all-encompassing medical assistance and mental health support for its students. The in-house line features centralized resources for students, via a single phone number, for all their assistance needs, including:

• A crisis line for mental health support via the Stay Healthy at School program

• Medical assistance and health care guidance

• Insurance coverage queries and claim support.

“It’s all about making sure the resources we provide to students are easily identifiable – the simpler, the better,” said Susanne Hendrickson, Director, Sales. With in-house assistance previously named Intrepid 24/7, the new branding of StudyInsured™ Assistance reflects the company’s commitment to simplifying and streamlining student products and support. Intrepid 24/7 will remain the company’s assistance line for white label services and various non-student clientele.

StudyInsured™ has provided student insurance services for over 70 years. The organization continues to raise the bar to provide products and services that evolve with the needs of the thousands of international students it serves across Canada and beyond.

About MSH

MSH International (Americas) comprises MSH International, StudyInsured™ and Intrepid 24/7. These are all subsidiaries of SIACI SAINT HONORE, a world leader in the design & management of international health care and life and disability insurance solutions for globally mobile individuals. Its services are designed for employees of multinationals, micro-businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, workers in international organizations, individual expatriates and local high net worth individuals in need of international insurance coverage. Thanks to its decentralized structure, 4 regional head offices in Toronto, Paris, Dubai and Shanghai and 18 service offices worldwide, MSH International (Americas) provides round-the-clock assistance to 2,000 corporate clients and over 400,000 insured members in nearly 200 countries.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Pamela Kwiatkowski, Senior VP Distribution and Client Experience

Direct +1.416.640.7868 email: Pamela.kwiatkowski@americas.msh-intl.com

Susanne Hendrickson Director of Sales

Direct: +1.604-561-0381 email: Shendrickson@americas.msh-intl.com.

COMPLAINT EXAMINATION AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION POLICY

This policy is in compliance with the provisions set out in the Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services (Quebec) pertaining to complaint examination and dispute resolution.

1.           Purpose of the policy

1.1         The purpose of this policy is to set up a free and fair procedure for examining all complaints received by us (the “firm”). It is intended, in particular, to govern the receipt of complaints, the delivery of the acknowledgement of receipt to the complainant, the creation of the complaint file, the transfer of the file to the Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) and the compilation of complaints for the purpose of preparing and filing a semi-annual report with the AMF.

2.           Person in charge

2.1         The person in charge of the application of the policy for the Province of Quebec is Ghada Darwish.

2.2         As the person in charge of the application of the policy for Quebec, this person shall also act as the representative with respect to the AMF. She shall train the personnel and, in particular, provide the personnel with the necessary information for compliance with this policy.

2.3         As well, the person in charge shall have the following duties:

(a)         send an acknowledgement of receipt;

(b)         send the file to the AMF, at the complainant’s request;

(c)          keep a complaint register up to date;

(d)         file a semi-annual report with the AMF.

3.           Complaint

3.1         For the purposes of the policy, a complaint is the expression of at least one of the following three elements:

(a)         a reproach against the firm, one of its brokers or one of its employees;

(b)         the identification of real or potential harm to a consumer;

(c)          a request for remedial action.

3.2         Any first consumer communication or informal step aimed at correcting a particular problem is not a complaint, insofar as the problem is dealt with by one of the firm’s operational divisions.

4.           Receipt of the complaint

4.1         A consumer who wishes to file a complaint must do so in writing to the following email address resolution_canada@msh-intl-com.

4.2         A broker or an employee who receives a complaint shall immediately forward it to his immediate supervisor or to the person in charge of the application of this policy.

4.3         The person in charge shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 5 business days. The acknowledgement of receipt shall contain the following information:

(a)         a copy of this policy;

(b)         a description of the complaint;

(c)          the name and contact information of the person in charge of examining the complaint;

(d)         in the case of an incomplete complaint, a notice requesting additional information to which the complainant must respond within five business days, failing which the complaint will be considered to have been abandoned;

(e)         a notice informing the complainant of his right to request, upon the expiry of the period of 15 business days set for obtaining all necessary information, but no later than one year following the answer to the complaint, the transfer of his file to the AMF if he is dissatisfied with the outcome of the examination of his complaint or the examination itself. The notice shall also indicate that the AMF may offer mediation if the parties agree;

(f)          a notice reminding the complainant that mediation is an amicable settlement process in which a third party intercedes with the parties to assist them in reaching a satisfactory agreement.

5.           Creation of the complaint file

5.1         A separate file shall be created for each complaint.

5.2         The file shall contain the following:

(a)         the complainant’s written complaint, including one of three elements of a complaint (reproach against the firm, its broker or employee; real or potential harm; and remedial action request);

(b)         the outcome of the complaint examination process (analysis and supporting documents);

(c)          a copy of the firm’s final written answer, containing reasons for the answer, as sent to the complainant.

6.           Complaint examination

6.1         Upon receipt of a complaint, the person identified under paragraph 4.2, his superior and the person in charge of complaints shall conduct an investigation.

6.2         The complaint shall be examined within 15 business days following receipt of all required information.

6.3         After the investigation, the person in charge shall send the complainant a final answer in writing, containing reasons for the decision.

7.           Transfer of the file to the AMF

7.1         If the complainant is not satisfied with the result of the examination of his complaint or with the examination itself, he may ask the firm to transfer his file to the AMF.

7.2         The complainant may exercise this right only upon the expiry of the maximum time limit of 15 business days allowed for obtaining a final answer, but without exceeding a period of one year following this answer.

7.3         The file transferred to the AMF shall include all the documents regarding the complaint.

8.           Creating and updating a register

8.1         A complaint register shall be established by the firm for purposes of the application of the policy. The person in charge shall be responsible for keeping the register up to date.

8.2         Any complaint that falls within the definition found in section 3 shall be recorded in the register.

9.           Semi-annual report

No later than one month after December 31 and June 30 of each year, the person in charge shall file a report with the AMF indicating the number and nature of complaints received in the last six months, according to categories set forth in the register.

10.         Notice to brokers and other employees of the firm

The person in charge shall ensure that brokers and other employees of the firm are made aware and have a copy of this policy.

11.         Effective date

This policy is effective as of September 22, 2020.

MSH Americas and StudyInsured™ are proud to announce the launch of the International Student Wellness Hub

Our mission at MSH Americas will always be the same: to respond to the needs of today’s globally-mobile individuals and organizations with innovated products and industry leading duty of care solutions.

We have been protecting international students and supporting schools to improve the study aboard experience in Canada and around the world. Being able to anticipate the changing landscape of the international education industry and responding to the needs of students and schools is what sets StudyInsured™ apart from the competition.

To continue this legacy, we are proud to bring the International Student Wellness Hub to our students, schools, and partners here at home and around the world.

The Hub is the ultimate resources for international students and schools, to find useful and practical information during this uncertain time due to COVID-19. The Hub includes information on:

1. Mental Health Tip Sheets for students: Information and tips for your mental health, and learning From the Front Lines with our Medical Director, Dr. Michael Szabo

2. COVID-19 Useful Links for students: To guide our students regarding Government updates

3. Provincial Resources for students: International Student programs and COVID-19 information by province

4. Finance & Job Opportunities for students: How students can manage their finances, plus job searching tips

5. Information & Resources for Schools: Tips for educators and administrators to assist students with well-being

We hope the Hub helps international students, schools and administrators through this difficult time! We would love to hear from you, feel free to share your feedback and suggestions to marketing@americas.msh-intl.com

Earn FREE Continuing Education (CE) credits with: Pre-Ex 101: Insurance Rules for Pre-Existing Conditions

What you’ll learn:

  • How to identify what constitutes a pre-existing condition
  • Whether your client’s condition is insurable
  • The application process and its requirements
  • How to guide applicants through application process

Register today for one of the upcoming sessions!

Hosted by subject matter experts:

Gail Roberts, Sales Executive

Alannah Amantea, Sales Executive

Canadian Travel Insurers Prepared to Offer COVID Coverage

Media announcements that major insurers are prepared to start covering COVID-related medical emergencies for Canadian out-of-country travelers will clearly put pressure on the federal government to ease its restrictions on international travel.

At present, Travel Canada maintains its “Avoid all non-essential “ warning for all foreign travel, even though European nations have opened up their borders to several countries—among them Canada—which they consider has adequately controlled the spread of COVID. The advisory warns that if travelers choose to defy the advisory “your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses.”

That of course, is a decision to be made by individual insurers not by government, and Manulife, Allianz and TUGO, Canada’s largest travel insurers have confirmed that as soon as the feds drop their advisory, they are prepared to offer COVID cover in most of their policies, under the existing limitations in their policies.

And Medipac International, the designated insurer for the Canadian Snowbird Association has gone one step further offering to provide COVID cover effective immediately, whether the government maintains its advisory or not. A spokesman for Medipac was quoted in the media as saying that snowbirds who own residences in the US are able to physically-distance just as effectively abroad as they can in Canada, and they are very “aware of the virus and the preventative measures that should be taken while travelling.”

The move by Canada’s insurers come several months after they announced that as COVID had become a widely-known event, they would not cover it in their medical policies and they gave Canadians out of the country at the time, several days to return to Canada before expiration of their benefits.

Since that time, insurance premium sales (estimated by the Conference Board of Canada as surpassing $990 million in 2018) have been stalled as the federal government maintained its blanket embargo on all out-of-country travel. It has also proven a serious impediment to Canadians making winter warm-weather travel plans as they are very committed to travel insurance. According to the CBoC, 76.6 percent of Canadians surveyed in 2018 had some form of travel insurance on their last trip out of the country.

The move by Canadian insurers follows similar steps by several of the larger American travel insurers to offer COVID cover for both medical and trip cancellation interruption cover for residents of the US.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

Enable a successful return to work for employees…

…while taking mental health into account

As companies around the world organize their employees’ “physical” return to work, questions about the psychological challenges employees experienced during the lockdown should be addressed. Taking into account the mental health impacts of COVID-19 will fortify a safe and successful return to work. This webinar will help to better understand these impacts by reviewing concrete examples and recommending practical measures to implement.

O U R   E X P E R T S   W I L L   D I S C U S S :

  • Psychological occurrences and effects during lockdown
  • Steps management should take to adapt to the diversity of employees’ psychological needs
  • A global overview of best practices, based on real-life cases
  • Q&A (20 min)

The session takes place at 8:00AM – 9:00AM (EDT) on Thursday, June 25, 2020. It is especially relevant for anyone in a leadership or Human Resources role.

OUR SPEAKERS:

Dr. Annie PEYTAVIN
Chief Medical Officer, MSH International

Based in Paris, Dr. Peytavin is Chief Medical Officer of MSH International. She coordinates the activities of all MSH medical teams (including doctors and nurses) across regional head offices in Toronto, Paris, Tunis, Dubai and Shanghai.


Barbara MATTISON
Senior trainer, Psychotherapist, Eutelmed

For over 20 years, Barbara has worked with individuals and teams to develop their strengths in international situations. Born in the United States, and having resided in the US, Canada, the UK and Algeria, she is a psychotherapist and senior trainer based in Paris. Her interventions within organizations generally encompass management and team solutions, intercultural communication or international mobility.


Albane GIACON
Clinical Psychologist, Project Manager, Eutelmed

Albane Giacon is a psychologist, psychosocial risk consultant and project manager at Eutelmed. She has resided and worked in the US, China, India and France. Her expertise includes work changes, stress and conflict management.


Please note that participation in this webinar is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. Full details on how to join will be sent upon registration. A recorded version will be made available after the session for those unable to participate.

The latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Opera are the best advisable options for webinar access.

Best regards,

The MSH International and Eutelmed teams

Battling COVID-19 Episode 7: Being Patient in a Challenging Time by Dr. Michael Szabo

Remember back in early to mid-March when the reality of COVID-19 was sinking in?  Before that point, we knew it was an issue of concern, but we didn’t think it was much to stress over.  However, we slowly began to realize that the virus was spreading in the community in North America.  We heard horror stories from hospitals in Italy, where health care staff were overwhelmed.  We began to see the same thing happening in New York City.  All of a sudden, it changed, and our lives were altered dramatically.

We immediately went into lockdown. We didn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary.  March Break vacations were cancelled.  Restaurants and stores were shut down.  Schools were closed.  We started working from home. We carefully wiped down our groceries and washed our hands obsessively.

I listened to a podcast recently where one of the speakers likened it to what happens when someone drops a glass on the floor of a crowded house party. I really like that analogy. The glass shatters everywhere, all among everyone’s feet on the floor. The first instinct in these situations is for someone to shout, “Nobody move!”  We say this because everyone knows that the shards of glass can go everywhere in these situations, in places you would least predict; places so far away that you are dumbfounded at how they got there. It’s also amazing how so many tiny pieces of glass are produced from such a smash, some so small you can barely even see them.  But those small ones can often prove to be the most damaging as they can become embedded in the bottom of your feet and be almost impossible to get out later. With everyone standing still, someone then gets a dustbin and a brush and tries like the dickens to clean up all the pieces of glass, looking in all possible places they think they may be hiding.  Then, people slowly and carefully start moving around again, realizing that surprises can still happen, and they may end up standing on a piece of glass.  So, we take our time.  Eventually, people start moving around normally with more confidence.  But we all know what can happen: a few hours, days or even weeks later, another small piece of glass is discovered in the strangest of places. We can never be truly confident that we are out of the woods for quite some time. However, at the same time, we cannot be paralyzed forever.  Life and the party must go on.

We are coming out of that initial phase right now. We are much more aware of what is happening. We have a better grasp of where the virus is in the community and how it spreads. We know how to prevent ourselves from being exposed, with face masks and hand washing now a part of everyday life. Staying six feet away from others is common practice whenever we walk down a sidewalk or take a trip to the grocery store.

The challenge right now is deciding how confident we feel in resuming our regular lives. Should we start having friends over who we feel are “safe”? Should we allow our kids to play with the neighborhood kids in small groups? Should we send our kids to day camps this summer? Can we visit our elderly parents? These are some of the questions many of us have.

I think what is required from us is patience. Patience with an imperfect process that must take time and be dictated by science, data and expert opinion. We need to trust our expert decision makers, who are tasked with the impossible job of devising a plan to optimally protect us. The process cannot be rushed because we are in the midst of a complex and new situation. As we all have noticed, experts haven’t always gotten it right.  First, they said no face masks, then they reversed their opinion. First, they said not to worry about asymptomatic spread, then they said to be concerned about it. First, they said not to worry about children because they are only rarely adversely affected. Now we are discovering that may not be true. These things happened because we learned more. The virus has affected more and more people, so with that increase in the number of infections comes more and more understanding. We are so early in the process of comprehending every nuance about this new virus. In three months, we have come a long way, but at the end of the day, it is still just three months. Our ability to be confident in making big decisions like allowing all children to go to overnight camp for the summer has to be tempered with the humility of what we actually know to be true right now.  We may overcall some things in this process but understand that we may undercall some things and live to regret them dearly. It’s a tough position to be in. When do we walk around freely after a glass has been shattered on the ground? When do we risk getting pierced by a wayward tiny shard of glass? No one has all the answers. Let’s not be paralyzed by fear, but let’s not be overconfident. A tough line to walk, but here we are. Let’s be patient, trust the process and we will overcome this.

Are Snowbirds Ready to Plan for Life After Covid?

Any other year, Canadian snowbirds would be anticipating the release of early-bird travel insurance deals for the coming winter season in the US sunbelt or other warm subtropical location. June, July, August—that’s when insurers normally begin rolling out their products for the coming season.

But this is not just any other year. The attack of Covid-19 coronavirus has seen to that.

As we know, many of you got back north of the border by the skin of your teeth in late March and April before the border shut down. A few others didn’t quite make it and had to pay the price of quarantine.

And now the quandary: what to do about winter 20/21? A lot of questions to deal with.

When will the US/Canada border restrictions end? Will you feel safe travelling to your winter home?  Will you have to wear a face mask all winter? How do you know who to believe? Is it time to look beyond the fear?

Let’s start with some facts–as provided by John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre, official data monitor for coronavirus Infections and deaths worldwide.

The US, which is the winter home to most of Canada’s snowbirds, has attracted much attention for its  COVID-related death toll—now exceeding 80,000. That amounts to 242 deaths per one million inhabitants. (The US has a population of 330 million). Actually, that’s quite modest when compared to other major developed nations: 757 deaths per million inhabitants of Belgium; 569 per million for Spain, 505 for Italy; 479 for UK, and 393 for France. As for Canada, Covid-related deaths stand at 134 per million population, and for Germany, only 92 per million. These figures are current for May 11.

But in looking more closely at the US figures, we note that the states of New York and adjacent New Jersey account for almost one half of US COVID-related deaths while there remain huge swaths of America where the infection and death rates vary dramatically. Of special interest to snowbirds,

their home-away-from home states generally record considerably lower COVID death rates than many less populated ones. California, Texas and Florida are the top three most populous of US states, in that order. Arizona has a far smaller population but is second only to Florida in hosting Canadian snowbirds.

Florida, with a population of about 22 million, has recorded 1771 COVID-related deaths as of May 11. That’s slightly better than Ontario, which with a population of just over 15 million has recorded 1669 deaths. (The population figures are rounded to 2020 estimates). 

California, with a population of close to 40 million has recorded 2717 COVID-related deaths; Texas, with a population of about 29 million has recorded 1088 COVID-related deaths, and Arizona, with a population of about 7 million has recorded 536 such deaths.

A personal note from MK. Recording numbers of deaths is a grim business. No death from COVID or any other such plague is acceptable. But if we are to deal with our fears, we must take a step beyond, and deal with the facts that underlie those fears.

The re-opening—so far, gradual and measured.

All of these states are now gradually reopening small businesses such as restaurants, small retail outlets,  and generally inhabitants are adhering to physical distancing and face mask rules. Florida has opened up most of its beaches to small groups, properly spaced. The spring break outbursts that made headlines around the world in March and April were quickly quashed by Florida’s governor. The exception to Florida’s beach re-opening so far are the highly-populated southeast counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. But central Florida, the Gulf coast, northeastern Florida and the panhandle are well into re-opening. 

In Arizona too, the lights are being turned back on. To quote a report from the Washington Examiner:

“At OSO Brewery in Gilbert, customers lined up at the bar Monday afternoon (May 11) and sat in every other dining room table. In North Scottsdale, Cien Agaves had new clear plastic dividers between booths as mask-clad staff offered digital menus to customers.”

In Texas, restaurants and retail stores have been allowed to re-open (with 25 percent occupancy), so have some malls and golf courses (one person per cart and a four-player maximum groups).  In the Rio Grande Valley, ground zero for Canadian snowbirds, barbershops and nail salons have also opened up—six feet minimum between stations and all other social distancing rules in effect.

In California, the “stay at home order” was lifted for most of the state on May 8, and hardly a week later was reinstated for Los Angeles county for a projected three months.  Nonetheless, businesses in less- populated areas were allowed to move into phase two of four phase statewide re-opening.

It’s a beginning. How long will it take? Will it be successful or turn out to be a mistake? It’s only May. But Canadian snowbirds like to do their planning well ahead of time. To be a successful snowbird, planning is the rule.

We’ll be following up on the re-opening efforts, not only in areas of interest to snowbirds, but for other leisure travellers as well.  Stay with us.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

“Every Kid Needs a Champion”: Five Must-Watch Videos for Teacher Appreciation Week During Covid-19

Being a teacher isn’t easy, especially in a COVID-19 world with virtual classrooms and technological challenges. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we pay tribute to all teachers by sharing five heartfelt videos to show our solidarity with their efforts and appreciation for all they do:

1. Every Kid Needs A Champion | Rita Pierson

Source: Ted Talks Education

2. A Teacher Appreciation Week for the Ages

Source: Edutopia

3. Barack Obama Surprises Teachers for National Teacher Appreciation Week

Source: NowThis

4. ‘This Will Be A Teacher Appreciation Week to Remember’: WCPSS Superintendent Cathy Moore

Source: TheNews&Observer

5. Student Parade for Teachers

Source: Wane.com

To all teachers and school administrators, thank you for going above and beyond in your efforts to instruct, inspire and challenge students to believe in themselves🍎  

– The StudyInsured Team

Cruise Bargains Sound Tempting. Can You Afford to Bite?

Despite the lingering images of cruise ships stranded at sea with passengers begging to be freed, the world’s cruise lines continue to drum up business for 2021 and even 2022. And bookings are said to be brisk–thanks to deep price-cuts and on-board cash value incentives.

When US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifts its “No Sail” order depends on when it considers the COVID-19 plague under control. And though cruising is a worldwide industry extending far beyond US ports, the world’s three biggest lines*are headquartered in Florida, and their vessels at some time or other sail in US-controlled waters patrolled by the US Coast Guard. Thus, CDC jurisdiction is quite clear. (*Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Holdings account for 60 percent of all cruise traffic).

However, none of these lines, and very few others, are flagged in the US, thus they have not been included in US congressional economic stimulus programs and while sitting idle and empty they’re generating no revenue. Fortunately, according to cruise ship analysts, all of the big three have sufficient liquid and credit reserves to take them into 2021 and so cruise fanatics have a bountiful choice of bargains to choose, even though they may have to wait six, twelve, even 18 months to get the goods.

Is cruising in your future?  Here are some things to consider.

Cruise patrons whose trips scheduled into early summer 2020 have already been cancelled are being offered some generous future cruise credits (FCCs)—some exceeding the initial cruise value (i.e, 125 percent). A few are even offering cash rebates of fees already paid to those whose enthusiasm for cruising may have waned. Cash rebates are a rarity in the cruise industry. But for future cruises, the cash rebates may well disappear, leaving FCCs the only means of recouping your travel investment should you wish to cancel.

All cruise lines offer trip cancellation policies and promote them heavily, but cancellations must be based on specified circumstances such as job loss, illness, family death, call too jury duty, etc. You can’t just change your mind, although virtually all lines now also offer Cancel for any Reason (CFAR) policies which cost about 40 percent more than basic plans and which expand the range of cancellation options. However, even these are not without restrictions and need to be thoroughly examined before purchase.

Most decrease the cancellation payout the closer you are to departure.

And even the CFAR cancellation plans offered by cruise lines, for the most part provide only for future cruise credits, not cashbacks to you or your credit card.

For Canadian cruise enthusiasts, out-of-country emergency medical plans (most of which provide some limited cancellation/interruption benefits), or stand-alone trip cancellation plans allow cancellation for specified situations already explained. But they too will pay cash rebates only for non-refundable costs, so if a cruise line offers vouchers for future travel, that obviates your chances of getting your money back (or some portion of it).

And most important, if there should be a resurgence of COVID later on, that will disqualify any  claims for cancellation rebates as it is a known event and you will have been warned about its possible consequences and also warned that its effects would not be covered by travel insurance.

What does this boil down to? Trip cancellation/interruption coverage has a lot of contingencies attached. You need to discuss it well with your travel advisor and you need to read the policy—all of it.

If planning and pre-paying a cruise six months or more in advance sounds attractive because of the 25 percent reduction in fare, weigh all of the possibilities. The belief that “We can always cancel” is not necessarily so. Know your policy.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

Battling COVID-19 Episode 4: Why we need to keep physical distancing By Dr Michael Szabo

In Canada, our efforts to flatten the curve are going well. Thankfully, we haven’t seen the same surge of cases that hit New York City, Italy and Spain.  Don’t get me wrong, those of us on the front lines here have seen a lot of cases, but so far, our health care system hasn’t been overwhelmed. While our good fortune has much to do with our heeding of public health guidelines, collective uptake of physical distancing rules and staying home as much as possible, I’m still a little worried. There is something about our human nature that concerns me.

At times, public health strategies can become the victims of their own success. Vaccines are a great example. The incidence of diseases that were once part and parcel of everyday life has been greatly reduced, and in some cases, eradicated completely with the advent of vaccination. As we don’t see these diseases much anymore, we don’t learn to fully appreciate their potential severity. With time, we begin to think that the diseases are nothing to worry about. Some may begin to think that it would be acceptable, and perhaps even beneficial, to get these diseases naturally in order to build “natural immunity”, which can sometimes be more robust and lifelong. With time, some people begin to fear vaccinations themselves, focusing on the associated tiny risks, rather than the risks of contracting the diseases they prevent. This loss of perspective plays a large part of the anti-vaccine movement.

We must stay the course right now.  Physical distancing has reduced the impact of the infection we are seeing in Canada, but this does not mean that we can breathe a sigh of relief and head back to a normal life anytime soon.  Our success with public health measures should only harden our resolve to keep it up even more.  We need to look at hugely impacted areas of the world for a harsh reminder of the truth as to what this virus can do – a good place to start is hearing stories from front line emergency doctors and nurses in New York City. 

There is a good reason why doctors and nurses who treat critical illnesses on the front lines believe whole-heartedly in public health measures like vaccines and physical distancing. It’s because we are immersed in the reality of what can happen in life and we never lose that perspective.

Committing ourselves to continue physical distancing is even more important than ever. We have seen success and that should spur us all on to continue. Our success should not lead us to think that it was unnecessary to institute preventive measures in the first place, or that we don’t need to follow them anymore.  The outcome we have seen is a result of the actions we have taken thus far – let’s not forget that. If a house were on fire, and the fire department was called to extinguish it, would we then argue that the fire department wasn’t needed after the fire was put out?  Or similarly, if someone with a serious blood infection were admitted to intensive care and put on intravenous antibiotics, would we look back and declare that the antibiotics weren’t needed because the patient recovered?

Physical distancing is working.  We should all be proud of our collective efforts that have saved thousands of lives and eased the burden on our health care system.  Success should breed more of the same, and not be used to deny the seriousness of the situation.  With time and a better understanding of this virus, we will be able to slowly and safely return to a more normal life.  One thing is for sure:  we will get through this together!

[CE Credit Webinar] Managing Expats: Know the Landscape, Seize the Opportunity

Attention agents and brokers in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario!

Are you looking for free Continuing Education (CE) credits?

Do you know the difference between a travel insurance solution and iPMI (International Private Medical Insurance)? Do you want to learn how to successfully overcome global mobility challenges? Get the right global mobility strategy to embrace these changing times in a free CE Credit Webinar on Wednesday, April 29 or Wednesday, May 6, sponsored by MSH International (Americas).

Join this session to learn:

  • How to define an expatriate vs. a global citizen
  • Solutions for an improved travel and health care experience for globally mobile clients
  • Best practices on how to provide value amid changing global circumstances

Register today for one of the upcoming sessions:

Hosted by Sales Executives, Alannah Amantea and Addie Ziprick

Sponsored by MSH International (Americas)

Time for Canadians to Take up Trip Cancellation Coverage

It may be some time before tourism gets back to normal, but one thing the COVID pandemic should have taught Canadians is that they should be paying just as much attention to trip cancellation/interruption insurance as they do to out-of-country medical emergency coverage. 

The recent example of cruise ships being forced to cancel or divert trips for which their passengers have already prepaid several thousand dollars emphasizes that travelers could be at significant financial risk very quickly through no fault of their own. And though cruise companies have responded with pledges of refunds for interrupted or aborted voyages, those refunds usually take the form of credits for future cruises—not cash. Such credits don’t always confirm vacationers’ schedules or their changing attitudes about the cruise experience. 

A 2019 survey by travel insurance vendor Kanetix revealed that 65 percent of prospective Canadian travelers do not buy travel insurance or even know if they have cancellation or interruption benefits in their policies—which in Canada are heavily skewed to medical emergency coverage.  By contrast, over 80 percent of American travel insurance policies are purchased primarily for trip cancellation/ interruption coverage, and fewer than 10 percent for major medical benefits.

The survey also indicated that 36 percent of Canadian travelers who choose not to buy trip cancellation policies believe them to be too expensive, while 28 percent assume they are covered by their credit cards.  That’s a risky assumption as credit card coverage is primarily designed for short-term travel and is not as inclusive as a stand-alone policy designed for an individual traveler’s specific medical needs. 

Generally, Canadians have come to see travel insurance as a medical necessity largely because provincial health plans pay so little (Ontario nothing) of the hospital and medical costs charged by out-of-country providers. It has become tangential to medicare so much so that over 70 percent of Canadians wouldn’t think of leaving the country without it.  

But that same concern has not extended to protection of the substantial investment Canadian travelers make in planning their annual vacations, which some surveys show cost more than $6000 per couple on average. Perhaps the current pre-occupation with global travel shut-downs may change some of that thinking. 

As we have explained in previous articles, trip cancellation/interruption insurance is designed to protect money that has been prepaid and is non-refundable. If you haven’t paid for it, you’re not covered for it.  

And because what you’re buying in trip cancellation insurance is protection of your investment over time—that means any reimbursement you are due from your insurer diminishes as you get closer to the date of your departure.  

Understand too that the reason for which you can cancel matters. Unless you have a Cancel for Any Reason policy (which costs more) you can only cancel and expect recompense for specified reasons, such as a new illness, death in the family, call to jury duty, interruption of employment, house fire, etc. etc. But those qualifying conditions must be listed in your policy.  Read and understand them. 

And as we have explained before, when you buy your policy matters. For example, if you bought trip cancellation coverage before there was any warning issued about the coronavirus threat, you would have been eligible for benefits if your cruise ship or land tour to China had been cancelled, or your government had warned you not to travel to that location. But your policy also would have warned you to leave the restricted area if possible, and as soon as possible, in order to keep your benefits intact. That’s not a new wrinkle. It’s been part of travel policies for a long time. 

Trip cancellation policies need to be read thoroughly and preferably discussed with the agents selling them. You need to understand your own responsibilities in adhering to the terms of coverage. And that may not be easy as travel insurers still have a way to go in writing policies that are user friendly and more easily comprehensible than they are right now. 

But until then, it’s up to you to take all steps to protect your travel investment. Your broker, or the agent selling you your policy can help, but you can’t avoid your own responsibility in insisting on learning the details of your coverage and paying attention to them. It’s your money. 

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved. 

Battling COVID-19 Episode 1: From the Front Lines with Dr. Michael Szabo

Recently, I’ve been working quite a bit in the emergency room of the hospital where I’ve served as a staff physician for the past 20 years in downtown Toronto. There are many positive things happening at the hospital: Everyone is working together to prepare for all the challenges that lie ahead. We’re all connecting with co-workers in ways that are meaningful and inspirational. The strength of the human spirit is alive and well. And we know that we will get through this difficult time and be better for it.

We’re starting to see a number of cases of very sick patients with COVID-19 at the hospital. Yes, most of them are older folks over 70, often with chronic health problems. But I’m going to be real with you. We’re seeing some young and otherwise healthy people becoming very sick – sometimes, critically. It’s important to realize that these cases are rare when compared to all the people likely infected – much less than 1%, but we are still figuring that out. The overwhelming likelihood for those of us who get this virus, and are under 60 with no chronic health problems, is that we will be able to fight it off and recover. But one thing that we’ve always known about infectious disease is that a very small number of otherwise healthy people can become quite sick. While it’s true for the flu, this is much worse. We don’t fully understand why and we’re unable to predict to whom it could happen. A nerve-wracking tidbit of information, I know.

This won’t be easy. It’s okay to say it aloud because it’s good to be honest. Being honest can diffuse the tension we may feel inside by getting our feelings out into the open. The most important thing is to remember what we CAN do to help get us through this time. We have the power to lessen the impact of this virus and reduce the chances of becoming infected. We’re not powerless here.

For example, we’re all doing an EXCELLENT job with physical distancing.  So, let’s keep that up.  Remember to stay home as much as possible. Avoid any close contact with anyone other than immediate family. By all means, go out for walks, breathe some fresh air and get some exercise  – but stay at least 6 feet away from others. That’s about the size of a pair of skis! 

We must remember to wash our hands and not touch our faces. If we’re sick with any kind of cough, runny nose or sore throat, self-isolate at home and avoid close contact with anyone.

These are all simple things but sometimes the most powerful things are the simplest. We’ve got this. If we all do the right thing, we can greatly lessen the impact of this virus. The power is in our hands.

Dr. Michael Szabo

10 Tips to Help International Students Survive Self-Isolation

For the 642,000 international students currently in Canada, COVID-19 presents a challenging situation, leaving them isolated and financially vulnerable with few options available. Studies have shown that loneliness can damage mental and physical health, leading to depression. Some students may face problems processing information, and have difficulties with memory retention, recall and decision-making.  

Our minds can serve as our best friend or worst enemy during such times. As guardians for and carers of international students, we want to share these 10 tips to help them survive the COVID-19 crisis: 

  1. Kill isolation with daylight: Our circadian rhythm can change in only 24 hours without daylight, impacting our sleep cycle and making isolation feel worse. An increase in daylight exposure reduces levels of melatonin, helping students to feel more alert and awake.
  2. Encourage moderation of online activities: Find activities that don’t require a screen. Students are accustomed to stimulation from mobile devices so disconnecting is important for them to reconnect with themselves. This may be accomplished by simple tasks such as preparing a meal or house cleaning.
  3. Teach them to be their own best friend: The truth is students only have themselves right now so the need to find inner strength and peace is crucial.  There are multiple exercises that can help such as meditation, self-affirmation and writing a journal.
  4. Practise xenophobia-awareness: International students, especially those of Asian origin, have dealt with micro-aggressions stemming from xenophobia (prejudice and the fear of foreigners) with the spread of COVID-19.
  5. Start a community WhatsApp or Facebook group: Reaching out to isolated students can be meaningful and helpful stay connected with students and keep them in the loop.
  6. Find cross-cultural counsellors: Reach out (virtually) to cross-cultural counsellors with experience with international students. Take this as an opportunity to find volunteers who want to help. 
  7. Re-adjust rule structures: Create a list of at-home activities and rules to avoid boredom for students. Have a game plan to keep them busy and entertained.
  8. Give yourself space: In these moments, stress levels and short fuses can increase for everyone. Decide upon and recognize a signal that means “enough”, then take a moment to collect yourself in a different room. Remember to stay positive and learn how to find peace when someone strains your patience.
  9. Encourage them to exercise: By Increasing our heart rate, more oxygen is pumped to our brain. This results in a plethora of hormones to better our brain function.
  10. Help them create a new plan: Students need to understand that these challenging times will not last forever. Help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that they can think about the next step and what they plan on doing after this has passed. This will teach them a great life lesson to reapply in future difficult situations.

COVID-19 Expatriates FAQ’s

Effective Date: March 26, 2020
Please note: This FAQ document replaces any and all previous versions.
Currently Available in English Only.

Can I receive COVID-19 testing even if I have no symptoms?

Since medical benefits are largely limited to expenses related to unforeseen emergencies requiring immediate attention, elective testing for COVID-19 is unfortunately not covered. If you are in Canada, please check with your province’s Ministry of Health for COVID-19 testing details. For example, in Ontario, COVID-19 testing is covered at no charge, regardless of your eligibility under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Where do I go for COVID-19 testing?

If you are in Canada, please visit the website for your province’s Ministry of Health to view a list of assessment centres in your area.

Are over-the-counter COVID-19 screening kits (such as those available in pharmacies) covered?

Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications, including screening kits, are not covered.

Does my policy cover medical expenses related to COVID-19? 

All policies with effective dates before the Government of Canada’s global travel advisory issued on March 13, 2020 will cover emergency COVID-19 treatment not covered by government insurance, provided the trip destination was not under a travel advisory at the time of departure. It must be noted, however, that governments normally cover pandemic-related treatment costs.

Will my policy provide repatriation coverage if I get COVID-19 and need to be returned to my home country?

Unfortunately, our Assistance service excludes coverage for repatriation that requires transportation in a biohazard isolation unit.

Am I covered by trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?

Canadian travel insurers determine this on an individual policy basis. Policies purchased after the Government of Canada’s global advisory against non-essential travel issued on March 13, 2020 may not provide coverage for trip cancellations related to COVID-19.

What do I do if I get sick while I am travelling?

If you begin to feel symptoms related to COVID-19, contact Assistance at 1-866-883-9787, toll-free from Canada or the United States, or at 1-416-640-7865 from anywhere in the world.

Assistance will help to assess your symptoms and direct you, as needed, to a hospital or clinic for the appropriate care. Depending on your specific situation, Assistance is also available to:

  • Provide interpretation services to help you better communicate with health care personnel
  • Advance funds to a service provider if you’re required to pay up-front for medical care
  • Monitor your case through to recovery

When consulting with a doctor, be sure to disclose if you visited any high-risk areas or have been in contact with anyone who has shown COVID-19 symptoms.

Will I be covered for self-isolation or quarantine—for example, if I need a hotel room?

Precautionary quarantines imposed on travellers due to government restrictions, including upon arrival at a destination or upon return to their home country, are not covered under our Discover Canada policy. However, if your return to your home country is delayed due to a precautionary quarantine, your coverage can be extended provided you remain eligible. Coverage is automatically extended for up to five days under certain circumstances (ex: delayed return due to flight disruption or hospitalization).

Provided their policy took effect before March 13, 2020, insured individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections will be covered the same as with any illness. However, this does not include self-isolation outside of a hospital, as our policies do not cover additional living expenses.

Will my policy limit or end coverage if an official advisory is issued by the Government of Canada?

Most policies exclude expenses incurred in locations for which an advisory was issued before departure. As the Government of Canada advisory against all non-essential travel was issued on March 13, 2020, policies for trips taken after this date would not cover COVID-19 related expenses.

Policies with an effective date up to March 13, 2020 will continue to provide coverage for unforeseen emergency expenses related to COVID-19, as per policy terms. New Canadian government advisories will not affect COVID-19
coverage in these policies. However, expenses related to COVID-19 will not be covered for any travel to, from, or through a country for which the Government of Canada had issued a travel advisory prior to the effective policy date.

Can I still mail information, such as original documents regarding claims, to MSH International?

While our offices are still open and mail continues to be delivered, we kindly ask that claims and supporting information be submitted online or via email.

What if I get sick returning to Canada from abroad?

If you have travelled, or have been in contact with someone who has travelled:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days
  • Contact your local public health authority within 24 hours of your arrival in Canada
  • Follow up with your health care professional

Closely monitor your health. If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing over the 14 days after your return:

  • Call your health care provider or your local public health authority
  • Disclose your symptoms, travel to the outbreak area/area under travel advisory, and/or any contact with individuals with symptoms

If you are sick and need medical attention in Canada:
Notify the medical clinic or hospital in advance. Disclose your symptoms and/or your travel abroad. DO NOT take public transit, an Uber, or a taxi!
– Wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent spreading the illness

If you feel sick before your departure for Canada:
– Do not use any form of public transportation
– Seek medical attention immediately

If you feel sick during travel to or upon your arrival in Canada:
– Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services agent. They will decide whether medical assessment by a quarantine officer is needed

My expatriate plan covers 100% of my medical costs. Does this include care related to COVID-19? Are there reimbursement limits?

All existing MSH International expatriate policies will cover COVID-19 the same as any other illness, based on each policy’s terms and conditions. Any specific exclusions would be listed in the policy exclusions.

My doctor postponed my medical appointment because of COVID-19 and my insurance has since expired. As the postponement wasn’t my fault, will this appointment still be covered?

Unfortunately, since the policy has expired, the appointment will not be covered.

Are there specific hospitals where I can be treated for COVID-19?

Most hospitals are equipped to handle patients with COVID-19 illness. The MSH Provider Tool can provide you with more details on nearby hospitals in our network. If you are seeking COVID-19 treatment, it’s crucial that you call ahead and notify the hospital of your symptoms before visiting.

Who do I contact if I am showing COVID-19 symptoms?

Contact your primary care physician or your province/state’s local public health department for medical guidance and protocols. It’s important to maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others at all times.

I’ve called the health department in my area but can’t reach anyone. What do I do?

If your COVID-19 symptoms are minor to moderate, isolate yourself at home. If you live with others, stay in a separate room, or keep a 2 metre (6 foot) distance away. Continue trying to reach your local health department or primary care physician. If your symptoms worsen (for example, difficulty breathing), call 911, the emergency room of your local hospital, or your urgent care centre. It is crucial to notify them of your condition before you arrive so that the medical team can take the proper precautions.

Contact your account manager if you have any questions about your coverage.

COVID-19 Visitors to Canada FAQ’s

Effective Date: March 26, 2020
Please note: This FAQ document replaces any and all previous versions.
Currently Available in English Only.

Can I receive COVID-19 testing even if I have no symptoms?

Since medical benefits are largely limited to expenses related to unforeseen emergencies requiring immediate attention, elective testing for COVID-19 is unfortunately not covered. If you are in Canada, please check with your province’s Ministry of Health for COVID-19 testing details. For example, in Ontario, COVID-19 testing is covered at no charge, regardless of your eligibility under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Where do I go for COVID-19 testing?

If you are in Canada, please visit the website for your province’s Ministry of Health to view a list of assessment centres in your area.

Are over-the-counter COVID-19 screening kits (such as those available in pharmacies) covered?

Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications, including screening kits, are not covered.

Does my policy cover medical expenses related to COVID-19? 

Visitors to Canada medical insurance policies can cover emergency COVID-19 treatment in Canada, but policy exclusions may apply, such as exclusions related to pre-existing medical conditions. Governments may also cover pandemic-related treatment costs. Expenses related to COVID-19 that occur on side trips outside of Canada would not be covered if the trip destination is under a Canadian travel advisory at the time of departure.

Will my policy provide repatriation coverage if I get COVID-19 and need to be returned to my home country?

Unfortunately, our Assistance service excludes coverage for repatriation that requires transportation in a biohazard isolation unit.

Am I covered by trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?

Canadian travel insurers determine this on an individual policy basis. Policies purchased after the Government of Canada’s global advisory against non-essential travel issued on March 13, 2020 may not provide coverage for trip cancellations related to COVID-19.

What do I do if I get sick while I am travelling?

If you begin to feel symptoms related to COVID-19, contact Assistance at 1-866-883-9787, toll-free from Canada or the United States, or at 1-416-640-7865 from anywhere in the world.

Assistance will help to assess your symptoms and direct you, as needed, to a hospital or clinic for the appropriate care. Depending on your specific situation, Assistance is also available to:

  • Provide interpretation services to help you better communicate with health care personnel
  • Advance funds to a service provider if you’re required to pay up-front for medical care
  • Monitor your case through to recovery

When consulting with a doctor, be sure to disclose if you visited any high-risk areas or have been in contact with anyone who has shown COVID-19 symptoms.

Will I be covered for self-isolation or quarantine—for example, if I need a hotel room?

Precautionary quarantines imposed on travellers due to government restrictions, including upon arrival at a destination or upon return to their home country, are not covered under our Discover Canada policy. However, if your return to your home country is delayed due to a precautionary quarantine, your coverage can be extended provided you remain eligible. Coverage is automatically extended for up to five days under certain circumstances (ex: delayed return due to flight disruption or hospitalization).

Provided their policy took effect before March 13, 2020, insured individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections will be covered the same as with any illness. However, this does not include self-isolation outside of a hospital, as our policies do not cover additional living expenses.

Can I still mail information, such as original documents regarding claims, to MSH International?

While our offices are still open and mail continues to be delivered, we kindly ask that claims and supporting information be submitted online or via email.

What if I get sick returning to Canada from abroad?

If you have travelled, or have been in contact with someone who has travelled:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days
  • Contact your local public health authority within 24 hours of your arrival in Canada
  • Follow up with your health care professional

Closely monitor your health. If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing over the 14 days after your return:

  • Call your health care provider or your local public health authority
  • Disclose your symptoms, travel to the outbreak area/area under travel advisory, and/or any contact with individuals with symptoms

If you are sick and need medical attention in Canada:
Notify the medical clinic or hospital in advance. Disclose your symptoms and/or your travel abroad. DO NOT take public transit, an Uber, or a taxi!
– Wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent spreading the illness

If you feel sick before your departure for Canada:
– Do not use any form of public transportation
– Seek medical attention immediately

If you feel sick during travel to or upon your arrival in Canada:
– Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services agent. They will decide whether medical assessment by a quarantine officer is needed

Am I covered for emergency medical treatment in Canada for COVID-19?

Policies for travel purchased will continue to cover new and unforeseen medical expenses related to COVID-19 infection; however, it’s best to consult your policy wording for specific details. Alternatively, you may contact us for help in determining the impact of COVID-19 on your coverage.

Am I covered if I am from a country with a known outbreak of COVID-19?

Coverage for COVID-19 treatment in this instance will be determined on an individual case basis, taking into account traveller health for the stability period before the policy start date.

Will I be covered if I contract COVID-19 during travel outside of Canada, or on a visit to my home country?

The Discover Canada policy allows for side trips outside of Canada, provided that certain criteria are met (see your policy wording for details). Side trips outside of Canada that took place before the Government of Canada’s global travel advisory issued on March 13, 2020 are covered for emergency COVID-19 related expenses, provided the trip was not made to a country for which an advisory was issued at the time of departure. Side trips after March 13, 2020 are not covered for COVID-19 related expenses.

The Discover Canada policy does not cover expenses incurred during trips to your home country.

You can also call us at 416-730-8488 (or toll-free at 1-800-360-3234) to speak with a customer service representative or email us at helpline@americas.msh-intl.com

Stay in Place. Follow Official Guidance. This will End.

By now, all Canadians who have been abroad should either be at home or in the final process of getting there. The coronavirus COVID-19 has changed our lives, and perhaps, when we come out at the other end of this trial, we’ll all be better off for it. We’ll be better prepared to deal with any such disruption in future, more cognizant of how vulnerable we really are when we travel to environments not our own.

For now, travel is not in our immediate future. For Canadians, some of the most inveterate travellers on earth, that may seem like a forbidding challenge. But this too will pass and when it does we may view travel as more of a privilege than a human right and we’ll be more careful about our choices, our preparations, our own untidiness when it comes to making plans, our own consideration for the others we impact when we do travel: like when we recline our aircraft seat into somebody else’s knees, or carelessly sneeze into the space of five or six of our travelling neighbours.

New warnings, old advice

We have seen and heard in recent days that some travel insurers have warned that newly purchased trip cancellation plans can no longer cover you for coronavirus-related illness if you have travelled where your government has warned you not to travel. And if you have done so, our government has warned you to move out and try to get home. There’s nothing new about this. Trip cancellation policies have had such exclusions in place for a long time.

As we have explained in earlier blogs, once your government has raised its warning level to “Avoid non essential travel” or “Avoid All Travel”, the restrictions are in and your benefits are seriously limited.

There are also many questions being asked by travellers who had to cancel trips or interrupt them to get home. If you bought your policy before the warnings went up you are covered, but only until you can get out of harm’s way, and your insurer is available to help you. Don’t expect to stay on indefinitely.

And even if you bought trip insurance prior to such warnings, don’t expect limitless coverage. All policies have limits on what they will pay if you are stranded and delayed getting home. So don’t try to take advantage. And understand that trip cancelation insurance covers only non-reimbursable money you have already paid. It does not pay for the emotional loss of your trip of a lifetime dream.

We’ll continue to update and advise you about what types of insurance you should consider when planning trips into the future. This is important, because recent survey has shown us that though about 70 percent of Canadians (of age groups) buy medical emergency coverage for out of country travel, only one third think about covering trip cancellations and interruptions. Perhaps COVID-19 will change that equation.

But for now, we can only urge you to stay close to home. Follow the advice provided by your federal and local governments and health authorities, and be patient.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

Cruise Lines Roll Out Deep Bargains During Virus Threats… Interested?

Cruise lines are now offering deals you wouldn’t have believed possible even a couple of weeks ago—obviously not to China or other western Pacific regions, but anywhere else—to the Caribbean (which normally attracts 32 percent of the world’s cruise traffic), to Mediterranean waters (forget Italy), Alaska and the rest of the world. They have suffered severe business losses since the COVID epidemic spread, and they intend to stay afloat during the current tempest.

It’s a buyers’ market, for either short or long term bookings. Should You buy? That’s your personal decision and your willingness to take on risk.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, and consultant to the White House COVID response team, has advised that anybody with a serious underlying condition, and especially persons over 60 with serious conditions “should not get near a cruise ship.”

Canada’s PHAC has gone one step further than the CDC in advising against all travel on cruise vessels.

Certainly that is the safest route, but shutting down an industry as massive as this one is bound to have enormous economic effect as well as an effect on million of jobs globally, and that too has to be a consideration for any government to make.

However the final decision to cruise or not is yours. Whatever your choice, if you do choose to book a cruise for future travel and you want to buy travel insurance from a Canadian vendor, talk to your travel advisor to make sure your policy will cover you. It may be the PHAC advisory may invalidate your coverage just as it would if you chose to travel to a country for which it has raised an “Avoid all travel” warning.

And it you’re young and in good health and can’t resist the temptation to cruise at bargain prices, here’s what you need to know.

Cash is not an option

In addition to rock bottom fares, cruise lines are offering waivers of cancellation penalties (those are the charges they levy if you cancel a cruise) or if you change your itinerary or the date of your trip. Sounds good, but understand that they’re not going to give you your money back. The most you get will be a cruise credit for a future trip.

All cruise lines offer their own in-house trip insurance–some covering only trip cancellation/interruption benefits, others a combination of TC/P and medical coverage—though the medical benefits they offer are very skimpy compared to the private travel insurance Canadians can buy from their own brokers, banks or TI insurers. But even those in-house polices will only cover up to 75 percent of any prepaid, non recoverable costs. So read that policy—every word. And understand that no standard travel insurance policy will cover virus outbreaks or trips you decide to cancel because you fear what might happen while travelling.

Fear Isn’t covered

Fear is not a coverable benefit under most policies except “Cancel For any Reason” policies or upgrades to existing policies. They’re also known as “Change of mind” policies or upgrades.

Even cruise companies now offer Cancel for Any Reason benefits, but you’ll pay 40 percent more for them, and they will usually allow you a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the costs any prepaid non-

refundable costs you have already committed. And, you guessed it, they’ll pay only in future cruise credits, not cash.

Private third party insurers in the US also provide CFAR policies or enhancements and they are increasingly popular (at about 40 percent more than regular fees). But the advantage they have over cruise policies is that they will pay out in cash. Some Canadian insurers also provide CFAR upgrades, but their payout levels are usually lower than 75 percent.

The bottom line

If you have any serious underlying health conditions—no matter what your age, or especially if you’re over 60 and have serious underlying conditions—check with your doctor about the advisability of cruising. Only your doctor can be trusted to judge if the condition you have is of the type that should preclude you from cruising.

Read your policy—every bit of it. And if you’re thinking of taking advantage of those cruise bargains—caveat emptor.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved

The Road to Ending Human Trafficking

Travelling is usually synonymous with vacation, holiday, relaxation, and good times. We encourage travelling to relieve stress, boost mental health, broaden the mind, give you new experiences to remember for a lifetime, and learn about other cultures and improve your understanding of the world.

On the other hand, travelling can also expose you to some of the negative parts of the world we live in, like human trafficking. Human trafficking is the act of holding another person hostage and controlling them through threats or coercion to exploit them for forced labor and/or sex– and it is more common than you think.
FACTS

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business and one of the fastest-growing illegal industries in the world. It operates within countries and across international borders. And it relies on the travel industry to operate.

We believe it is vitally important for travellers to be aware that human trafficking can happen anywhere– and also that something can be done about this violation of others’ human rights and dignity.
WHAT MSH INTERNATIONAL IS DOING

At the WTTC 2019 Global Summit in April of this year, MSH International joined the Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force uses our position in the travel industry to educate partners and clients on how we can all make a difference, including calling on governments across th world to adopt more stringent measures in the fight against human trafficking.
THE TASK FORCE FOCUS

PREVENTION – to increase industry and consumer awareness of human traffickingPROTECTION – to train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases of human traffickingACTION – to encourage governments to create and enforce legislation on recognizing human trafficking as a crimeSUPPORT – to provide assistance, training, and employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking
HOW YOU CAN HELP

BE AWARE: Human trafficking occurs around international travel hubs with large immigration populations, like large airports.Victims of human trafficking include those who are more vulnerable, such as runaways, homeless youth, and those in foster care.The largest number of trafficked people come from Russia and Ukraine.The largest number of people trafficked outside of Europe come from the Middle East, Japan, Thailand, and North America.Young children begging for money tug at our heartstrings– but these children are often being trafficked. Giving directly to them encourages the cycle of poverty, gives children an incentive to stay out of school, and continues to support the harmful and illegal industry putting them in this terrible state.

LOOK OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO: Appear malnourished and have signs of physical injuries and abuseAvoid eye contact, social interaction, and authority figuresSeem to have a rehearsed or scripted response when interactingAppear destitute or lack personal possessions

TAKE ACTION: In Canada, call the police at 911 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477Call immigration and customs enforcementCall the National Human Trafficking Resource Centre hotline:
USA – 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733
Canada – 1-833-900-1010
Spread awareness and let people know about the widespread issue of human trafficking.

Share this post so we can join together in raising awareness and in preventing, stopping, and bringing justice to those involved in human trafficking!

10 Things I have Learned About Human Trafficking Since Launching Our Task Force

In the run up to 30 July – World Day against Trafficked Persons, which is calling for governments to take more stringent action to fight Human Trafficking, I took the opportunity to reflect on what I have learned about the issue since WTTC launched its Human Trafficking Task Force at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, April this year. 

  1. Human Trafficking is a big money ‘business’.

According to the International Labour Organization, Human Trafficking is an illicit industry worth more than $150 billion annually, which is equivalent to the entire tourism economy of Brazil ($152.5 billion).

2. Human Trafficking affects everyone, everywhere.

Victims of Human Trafficking are men, women and children, and they can be found in every country in the world. An estimated 24.9 million people are trapped in forced labour:

  • 16 million of which are exploited in the private sector,
  • 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and
  • 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities.

Human Trafficking disproportionately affects females who make up 99% of commercial sexual exploitation cases and 58% in other sectors.

3. You don’t have to be physically moved to be ‘trafficked’.

A common misconception when it comes to Human Trafficking is the idea that a person is ‘trafficked’ from one country to another. In reality, a person need not be physically transported from one location to another in order to be considered a victim of Human Trafficking. In fact, UNODC estimates that the number of people being trafficked within their own country has doubled in recent years to 58% of all detected victims. Human Trafficking is therefore about coercion; forcing someone to do something against their will, and exploiting them.

4. Travel & Tourism is often an unwitting facilitator of Human Trafficking.

Travel & Tourism is responsible for the movement, accommodation and employment of millions of people around the world. These systems and platforms are often used by traffickers to exploit vulnerable people and children.

5. Trying to understand where Human Trafficking is taking place is really complicated.

Human Trafficking is a criminal activity that is hidden in plain sight. The biggest global Travel & Tourism brands have multifaceted organisational structures and operate in numerous and diverse destinations around the world where laws, customs and practices may vary. Value chains can be complex, including contractors, suppliers and other business partners – which could potentially heighten the risk of trafficked persons being hidden within their operations. 

6. Travel & Tourism has a big role to play in the fight against Human Trafficking. 

With 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals and 4 billion air passengers in 2018 alone, the Travel & Tourism sector interacts with billions of customers at all stages of the travel process. This provides an enormous opportunity for companies to raise awareness of the severity and prevalence of Human Trafficking, to encourage responsible tourist behaviour, and to inform travellers how to spot and report suspected cases.

7. Travel & Tourism employees are the eyes and ears on the ground (and in the air).

Travel & Tourism supports 1 in 10 jobs around the world – a total of 313 million people. Aware that their employees interact with millions of different people daily, many Travel & Tourism companies provide training to customer facing employees so that they know how to spot signs of Human Trafficking, how to report suspected cases, and have policies in place to protect whistle-blowers. 

8. There is a role to play in supporting survivors, too.

As one of the largest employers in the world, and in addition to providing advocacy and awareness raising and employee training programmes, some Travel & Tourism companies, namely within the hotel industry are providing much-needed support to survivors including training and employment opportunities.   

9. Global Action is required to tackle a problem of this magnitude.

WTTC launched its Human Trafficking Task Force at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville. Bringing together nearly 20 of the largest global Travel & Tourism brands, the Task Force facilitates information exchange and coordinates efforts across the private sector, while strengthening cooperation with the public sector and civil society.

10. Governments need to wake up and step up – it’s time for action!

While prevention and protection are crucial pillars in the fight against Human Trafficking, we need government support and leadership to take us beyond awareness-raising. Specifically, governments should strengthen the integration with local authorities to ensure perpetrators are duly processed and punished. The weakness in this ‘system’ is the lack of coordination for how to ensure reduction of the crime through the justice system.

Is your Government doing enough to fight Human Trafficking in your country?

無論您是在國外工作還是留學,都要在春節期間保持傳統過新年!- Whether You Are Working Or Studying Abroad, Keep The Tradition Alive During Chinese New Year!

新年快樂 – Happy Chinese New Year!

Or in Hong Kong and other Cantonese regions, 恭喜發財 – it means congratulations on the fortune.

A Little History

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has taken prominence and is celebrated all over the world. This New Year celebration is actually the longest Chinese holiday of the year (lasting 15-16 days) and is celebrated on a different day every year. Why? Because it follows the lunar calendar – the movement of the moon. This tradition has been around for almost 4000 years since the Han Dynasty in 202 BC-220 AD.  The Emperor commanded the use of the lunar calendar and it has been put into practice ever since.

2019, Year of the Pig

Every year is represented by a different Chinese zodiac sign. 2019 is the year of the pig – a year of fortune and luck! A pig represents wealth, honesty, prosperity, generosity, and patience to name a few. And depending on your birth year, a different zodiac animal can represent you or your personality type and determine your career, health and relationship success – just like the western zodiac with the 12 different astrological signs of the year. In China, you have your real age (the day you were actually born), and a “fake” nominal age where you grow an extra year older on top of your real age because of the Spring Festival and the lunar calendar. So if you’re 35 in your real age, with the lunar calendar you are actually 36! In 2019, Chinese New Year or Spring Festival lands on February 5th – where everyonegrows a year older.

The Reunion

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday celebrated in China and it causes the largest human migration in the world.  Everyone comes back home to celebrate and it is such a big event that it’s now known as the Spring Migration. As 1 out of every 5 people in the world is Chinese, not even including overseas Chinese and people of Chinese descent, it is a very busy and hectic time of the year, especially at airports – so it is good to be prepared and have everything in order before this big travel date. This time of year brings the anticipation of spending time with family and loved ones and enjoying one another’s company with amazing food, decorations, and traditions.

Specialty Food Dishes To Celebrate

There are many popular Chinese traditional food dishes with specific meanings that are used to celebrate the Spring Festival:

1 – Laba porridge 腊八粥. This porridge includes eight types of grains and is eaten on the 8th day of the 12th month in the Chinese calendar and is the subject of many different myths, but all teach the lesson of being grateful and not taking what you have for granted.

2 – Baked bread 馍饼. When you eat this bread, it’s believed that the road to wealth will be open and smooth for that year.

3 – Kumquats and sugarcanes means a sweet life and successful road ahead.

4 – Soup balls or sweet dumplings 湯圓. These soup balls have different filling inside, whether it be savoury or sweet, and are a popular dish as their name also sounds like the Chinese word for “reunion”. They are also shaped like the full moon.

5 – Fa Gao 發粿. It is a hybrid of muffins and a sponge cake. The word “fa” is the same as the word that means “get rich” in Chinese. People also dye these cakes in festive colours.

6 – Rice cake 年糕. When translated to English, it literally means “year cake” and it symbolizes success.

7 – Dumplings are to be eaten every meal for 5 days. With so many dishes to choose from, this tradition has been relaxed, but is still very much enjoyed.

8 – Tu Su Wine 屠蘇酒. Well you definitely can’t celebrate a new year without some wine! Chinese New Year calls for a specialty wine that was the Emperor’s first drink of the New Year. It is made with medicinal herbs and yellow rice wine and has many health benefits including disease prevention.

Celebrate Wherever You Are

If you’re a Chinese international student or an expatriate living or working away from home, we understand that if you can’t make it back for the New Year, this tradition will be sorely missed. But not to worry, you can bring these traditions to wherever you may be. You can also share these traditions with friends and show how proud you are of being an international student or expat. Creating a festive atmosphere where you are can really help you feel closer to where you came from. There are also many places you can go where you can join in on the celebrations of Spring Festival!

1 – Take a walk through China Town! Most cities in different countries have a China Town, full of traditional restaurants, little shops like the ones back home, architecture that mimic Chinese designs, and people who speak the language all over the streets.

2 – Even malls in different countries around the world celebrate Chinese New Year by hosting dragon dances, Chinese dances, and giving away red pockets with candies in them! How’s that for a little taste of back home?

3 – Don’t forget to call or video chat with your family! It’s always great to see familiar faces and how they are celebrating and wish a prosperous new year to the entire family all at once!

4 – Bring your traditions to where you are. Celebrate with friends and maybe teach them something new and what this festival means to you. You can have fun making dumplings and traditional Chinese dessert. Also, who wouldn’t love a red pocket if you’re feeling generous!

5 – Decorate your home in red to symbolize prosperity and happiness, like you do back home. It can be a reminder of this important tradition and bring happiness through familiarity.

6 – Have a night out at your favourite Chinese restaurant! They will sure know how to celebrate and you’ll be able to have a taste of home on that special day with everyone else around who is the doing the same thing.

7 – Buy your own fireworks! It may not be as grand as professional fireworks, but at least you and your friends can have fun lighting them up and seeing the beautiful colours in the sky.

8 – Why not host a hot pot dinner at your house? It may be cold, especially during this time of the year, and what better way to celebrate than to have a boiling hot buffet meal with your favourite meats, seafoods, and veggies and the ability to make your own special sauce to dip your food in.

9 – End this almost 23-day festival with your own lantern festival under the first full moon of the year! You can have fun making your own lanterns or buy them in Chinese stores. The Lantern Festival is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. In ancient times, the Chinese women who had to stay indoors most of their lives, were permitted to celebrate the lantern festival on the full moon of the month. Therefore, it was also the only time young men and women could meet with each other and fall in love. The Lantern Festival also symbolizes freedom, and it is a great reminder that you are free to travel to study or work where you please. Family will always be there and you will have your festive reunions again!

 

Comment below to let us know how you’re celebrating Chinese New Year!