Out-of-country coverage

Out-of-country coverage

Updated December 21, 2021

On December 15, the federal government advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada due to the risk posed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

We would strongly encourage plan members to reconsider their travel plans at this time. If plan members still plan to travel, it’s important that they understand their out-of-country coverage, and how it applies to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 situation can change quickly and without warning. For example, borders can close quickly, and cancellation of flights to certain countries can occur. If this happens, plan members’ coverage could expire while they’re still abroad due to the length of the trip.

Important reminders

  • Trip Duration Limit. For plan members leaving Canada, the trip duration limit in their contract applies. Plan members need to check their contracts to ensure their trip duration falls within these limits. We won’t extend the trip limit even if travel home is restricted. 
  • COVID-19 Coverage. Our standard contracts don’t exclude or limit coverage for epidemics or pandemics. We’ll cover COVID-19 medical emergencies the same way we cover other medical emergencies outside of Canada.
    • However, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in popular destinations are rising. This could
      mean restricted access for plan members to medical facilities (for any medical emergency). A medical emergency is an acute illness or accidental injury that requires immediate, medically necessary treatment prescribed by a doctor
    • We won’t cover plan members who are required to quarantine unless they require immediate emergency medical treatment. This includes plan members who:
      • test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic or are experiencing mild symptoms that do not require immediate medical treatment; or
      • test negative for COVID-19 but are still required to quarantine.
  • Trip cancellations or delays. Your plan doesn’t cover the cost of:
    • flight cancellations, delays, or other expenses caused by border closures,
    • difficulties meeting Canada’s border entry requirements, or other trip disruptions due to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Tests. Sun Life does not cover the cost of COVID-19 tests under Out-of-Country Travel, Extended Health Care, or Personal Spending Accounts. Plan members may have coverage under a Health Spending Account if prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

This plan member communication provides an overview of what plan members need to know if they travel abroad this winter. Please share it with your employees. It’s important they know their coverage details before they decide to travel.

Updated: December 21, 2021

Plan members may have a dependent who is, or will be, studying abroad. Based on travel advisories from the Government of Canada, here’s how we’re handling medical emergency coverage for students.

  • Students with an approved extension. If we’ve approved a request for an extension of medical emergency coverage, we’ll continue to honour their extension. We outlined the coverage period in their approval letter from us. 
  • Students without an approved extension. These students have coverage for the trip duration limit outlined in the contract. For now, we’re not extending coverage beyond the trip duration limit. This is due to various travel advisories from the Government of Canada.

When the Government lifts the travel advisories, you can submit an extension request using our Continuation of coverage smart form. You can find the latest version of the smart form:

  • on our Plan Sponsor Site, or 
  • by sending an email to your Group Benefits Representative

For all students, coverage ends on the date they reach the dependent student age limit. Your contract outlines this age limit. 

It’s essential plan members know their coverage details before their dependent studies abroad. This plan member communication, How we’re handling medical emergency coverage for students, outlines important information about leaving Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, we’ll continue to treat a COVID-19 medical emergency the same way as any other medical emergency outside of Canada. We encourage you to share this communication with plan members.

We’ve updated the Out Of Country FAQ to help answer your questions.