The outbreak of a coronavirus (COVID-19) is raising many questions and concerns among travellers and investors. The following information can help you make good decisions about travel insurance, your investments and protecting yourself against fraud.
1.COVID-19 and travel insurance: what you need to know
Insurance coverage and reimbursement eligibility criteria for trip cancellation or interruption can vary from one insurer to another. It is important that you check with your insurer to obtain accurate information specific to your situation.
Insurers have added key information about COVID-19 to their websites and ask that their phone lines be left free for travellers who urgently need to contact them. Please see your insurer’s website.
If you are currently abroad:
The Government of Québec is urging Quebeckers to take the necessary steps to return to Québec as quickly as possible.
You are strongly encouraged to follow this recommendation so that your travel insurance remains in force. Some insurers have indicated that coverage will be maintained for emergency medical expenses if the insured is ill as a result of COVID-19 or other causes, or requires medical care following an accident, provided that he or she takes the necessary steps to return from abroad as quickly as possible. Ask your insurer when your coverage ends. If you are able to make arrangements to return to Québec only after that date, check with your insurer if your coverage can be extended by a few days. Make sure you keep the supporting documents that prove you were unable to return before the date for which you were finally able to make arrangements.
For help with making arrangements:
If your travel insurance includes a travel assistance service, be sure to contact it.
If you haven’t already done so, use the Government of Canada’s registration of Canadians abroad service This link will open in a new window. Your registration will enable the government to contact you. You can also contact the Canadian embassy or consulate, which offer services to Canadians abroad. Check the directory of embassies and consulates This link will open in a new window to obtain the contact information for the one nearest you.
If you decide to remain abroad, you may not be covered by your travel insurance beyond the coverage expiry date determined by your insurer.
If you have plans for non-essential travel in the short term:
Ask your insurer what the conditions are for obtaining a reimbursement of expenses associated with the cancellation of your trip due to COVID 19. Insurers have added essential COVID 19 information to their websites and are updating it continually.
If you have already made plans to travel in the next few months, such as in September or October:
Follow the situation closely, in particular the recommendations of the Government of Québec This link will open in a new window and travel advisories from the Government of Canada.
If you have any doubts, see your insurer’s website.
Check the trip cancellation coverage offered by your airline.
Your credit card may offer a reimbursement. Ask your credit card issuer or the partner financial institution.
Also look into the Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents This link will open in a new window. This fund, administered by the Québec Office de la protection du consommateur, is a financial protection plan from which you benefit if you do business with a travel agency that holds a licence from the Office de la protection du consommateur, regardless of whether the agency conducts its activities in a brick-and-mortar establishment or on-line.
2. COVID-19 and its impact on investment performance
It is hard to predict stock market movements. Many factors other than COVID-19 influence investment value and performance.
Some sectors may be more affected than others. It is very difficult to assess the magnitude of potential losses, which could be temporary.
What should I do if the stock markets fall?
Avoid hasty decisions. Unless your financial situation, personal situation or objectives change, don’t make any major adjustments to your investment strategy, even if the markets are down. The consequences could be unfortunate.
If you invest with the help of a representative, discuss the situation and don’t hesitate to ask if the time is right to make changes to your investment strategy.
- Stay calm. Panic or euphoria can lead to poor decisions.
- Choose your investments in relation to your financial objectives, risk tolerance and investor profile.
3. Watch out for financial fraud!
Events that make the headlines, such as COVID-19, can be used by fraudsters as a pretext for approaching investors. Fraud can take various forms. For example, fraudsters can use the Internet and social media to offer you an investment in companies that are allegedly involved in the prevention or treatment of the virus. They will usually promise high yields without risks and will push you to make a snap investment to take advantage of a “one-time” opportunity.
Be on your guard, ask questions and do your homework before investing. Always check if the person offering you an investment is registered with the AMF.
Remember that there is no such thing as a high-yield, no-risk investment.
When in doubt, contact the AMF.