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Statement: Update on Canada’s life and health insurers’ response to COVID-19

Release Date: 05/01/2020
Staff Reference: Kevin Dorse

(Toronto, May 1, 2020) - As we begin another month under pandemic conditions, Canada’s life and health insurers have been taking stock of the work our industry has been doing to respond to the threat of COVID-19, to ensure the safety of our employees and policy holders, and to protect the benefits that millions of Canadians continue to count on.

Over the past weeks, working together as an industry, as well as in partnership with governments and employers, unions and other associations, Canada’s life and health insurers have:

Supported Canadian employers, workers and their families

  • Many insurers have proactively provided premium refunds and other forms of premium deferrals to reduce costs for employers to help them and their employees get through this unprecedented economic crisis
  • Waived the standard waiting period to qualify for short-term disability benefits so that COVID-19 patients could access needed income supports from day one
  • Made it as easy as possible for patients to access their benefits – waiving requirements for doctor’s notes and lab tests in favour of self-declarations

Helped Canadians return home
  • Helped an unprecedented number of Canadians activate travel insurance to get home following the Government of Canada’s unprecedented global travel order
  • Worked closely with Global Affairs Canada to encourage Canadians overseas, including “snowbirds” with travel medical insurance in the southern United States to return home

Protected essential services
  • Introduced new measures so commercial truckers can count on continued medical coverage in the United States
  • Worked with pharmacists to prevent prescription drug shortages caused by hoarding
  • Worked with governments to have life and health insurers designated an essential service so that benefits and benefit support could continue to flow without interruption to Canadians

“Because of steps taken by insurers and our partners, including our network of advisors, the vast majority of Canadians have not experienced any disruption to their workplace health benefits. None of us know exactly how long this pandemic will continue, but it is our commitment as an industry and as individual insurers to continue to work in collaboration with others to ensure Canadians can continue to count on their workplace health and drug benefits.”
      - Stephen Frank, President and CEO, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association

About the CLHIA

The CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance business. The industry provides a wide range of financial security products such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to almost 29 million Canadians. It also holds over $850 billion in assets in Canada and employs more than 156,000 Canadians.

For more information:

Kevin Dorse
Assistant Vice President, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs
(613) 691-6001 /