Clearing the air on COVID-19 misinformation
By now, most people have become accustomed to following universal health guidelines regarding the use of facemasks, social distancing, handwashing and avoiding large gatherings to stay safe during the pandemic. It’s also been comforting that so many questions that have been raised about COVID-19 have been met with educated answers – but a lot of misinformation has reached the public as well.
Over the past year, some social media platforms have been fertile ground for the flourishing of misguided health and safety details, including some that are related to the highly anticipated roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines. And while the delivery of the vaccines to Canadians moves forward, the risks of allowing false information to gain traction could be counteractive to what needs to be done to assure the safety of the population, including your clients. This is primarily what drove the Canadian insurance sector, and Manulife, to address some recent online chatter that was giving voice to invalid facts. More specifically, how being vaccinated for COVID-19 could impact a person’s Manulife insurance coverage and prevent people from getting new life or health insurance coverage, which is entirely untrue.
Rob Hollingsworth, Head of Distribution for Manulife Individual Insurance, insists on clearing the air about the issue. “The arrival of vaccines aimed at preventing further spread of COVID-19 infection in Canada is a most welcome development, and I am pleased to assure our customers and advisors that receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will not negatively affect their coverage in any way, nor will it impact their ability to get new life and health insurance coverage with Manulife.”
In another relevant announcement, Manulife says members of its Manulife Vitality program can provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination and in return, receive 400 Vitality Points. Manulife Vitality members can use the points to achieve new status levels and unlock other rewards within the program. More details about Manulife Vitality is available here.
Information concerning the impact of the virus on other insurance coverages, namely critical illness insurance or disability insurance, is available on Manulife’s Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 page and on PolicyAdvisor.com.
As the vaccine deployment carries on, it’s important to note that most restrictions and regulations involving other activities, such as travel, remain firmly in place. However, it’s an evolving situation and some changes have occurred.
Early in 2020, the Canadian government increased its scrutiny of international travelers entering and leaving the country. New rules were put in place to deter those who might otherwise try to bypass the regulations. And as expected, new rules will raise questions among some Manulife travel insurance holders who are curious to know what their policies cover with respect to their travel plans or circumstances, in relation to COVID-19. It also complicates matters for Canadian “snowbirds.” Heading into spring, when many snowbirds return to their residences in Canada, and with the increasing availability of vaccinations for senior citizens back home, it’s understandable that more may seek advisors’ advice on how their travel policies and plans may be affected.
As it currently stands, anyone entering Canada through a major airport must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours previous to their departure/arrival, and must prepare for a mandatory 3-night self-isolation stay at a designated hotel, followed by a 14-day quarantine period at a contact location that has been shared with officials for the purpose of daily updates. Similarly, all non-essential travelers arriving at a Canadian land border entry point are required to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test and register the whereabouts of their quarantine location, as well as any additional travel plans. As there is a tendency for rules to change frequently, and with little warning, snowbirds can follow the most recent travel requirements on the snowbirdadvisor.ca, travel.gc.ca and Canada.ca websites.
Manulife’s COVID-19 travel policies and certificates do not cover the cost of a COVID-19 test or any quarantine period in a hotel or otherwise, for travelers entering or returning to Canada. It’s also notable that it isn’t possible to change a travel plan type after a traveler has left the country. Original travel plans can be extended, although COVID-19 coverage can only be added to the plan while the person named in the policy is still in Canada.
Until a governmental policy is developed and agreed to in both countries, the ban on non-essential cross border travel between Canada and the United States remains in effect.
Any clients who intend to travel outside of Canada should also be mindful that local public health measures and restrictions that are enforceable in the area of their destination should be researched in advance to avoid possible complications. You can consult the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories here.
More Manulife policy information about returning to, or travelling away from Canada during the pandemic, is available here.
During this unusual time, it can be difficult to keep pace with the constant flow of information, not all of which is based on fact or evidence. Manulife continually monitors and verifies the developing course of the pandemic, especially with concern to how clients and customers are affected by the information they receive from various sources. It’s recommended that people try and access guidelines and instructions only from merited, trustworthy sources.
“We have been in this together since day one, and Manulife will continue to act in the best interests of our customers, business partners and employees up to and beyond the end of the pandemic,” Hollingsworth says. “In the meantime, we are following the guidance and recommendations from the World Health Organization, the Government of Canada and other official authorities.”
Detailed answers to your insurance and other COVID-19-related questions are available in this section of Manulife’s website.
FOR ADVISOR USE ONLY.
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