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Travel insurance policy only covers visitors from North America

Only residents from North American countries — Canada and the United States — are covered by the new travel health insurance for visitors coming to The Bahamas, according to a copy of the policy obtained by The Nassau Guardian.

The document notes that North American visitors staying up to four nights will be charged $25, including service fees, for the insurance.

North American visitors staying more than five nights and up to 31 days will pay the same rate.

Children under 10 are covered at no charge.

The maximum number of days covered per trip is 31 days. 

Non-North American visitors are not covered under the policy.

When asked if only visitors from North America are covered by the insurance, Ministry of Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu told The Guardian, “We are now focusing on them. For this period, the only guests coming in are from [the] US and Canada. This week, we will finalize other countries that are much further afield.”

She said non-North American visitors will not be covered “for about one week only”.

“Asia [and] Europe were not [a] priority to start,” Jibrilu said.

Nearly 82 percent of The Bahamas’ stopover visitors last year were from the United States and roughly seven percent were from Canada.

Sunday marked the government’s second attempt at reopening The Bahamas’ tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day before the sector reopened, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar announced that individuals traveling to The Bahamas will have to pay for a travel health visa.

Included in the cost of the visa, which ranges from $40 to $60, is travel health insurance for visitors. The insurance, which is provided by CG Atlantic, is mandatory after November 14.

The insurance covers the cost of medical evacuation — up to $50,000 —for visitors who test positive for COVID-19 and display symptoms and visitors who test positive and display no symptoms but have comorbidities. 

It provides $500 per day — not exceeding $7,000 — for trip interruption or delay for necessary quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. This applies to asymptomatic visitors who decide to quarantine in The Bahamas. 

Up to $50,000 is provided for medical expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 while in The Bahamas. 

“We know that if someone comes into the destination and they were to test positive but they have no symptoms — so they are symptomatic — those people, by international law, cannot get on an aircraft,” Jibrilu said.

“They can’t get on an airplane. It goes against every international convention. And so, they would have to quarantine in place. The Ministry of Health said the government can’t support them. We can’t pay for them to stay in place.

“Our hotel partners were deeply concerned that if we were asking these people to self-isolate in a room for up to 14 days, their feelings would be that some would say, ‘Well, I don’t have money to cover that’, ‘I can’t pay for that’, ‘Who’s going to pay for that?’

“So, to cover this eventuality, negotiation with the insurance company — and it took negotiations — was that if someone fell in this category, they would not be covered by their routine medical insurance.”

She said health insurance companies never contemplated a scenario where individuals would have to quarantine abroad due to COVID.

“The health and well-being of the Bahamian people and its visitors are integral to CG Atlantic’s business mission, and this safe-travel program is a natural extension of that understanding,” Lynda Gibson, CG Atlantic’s executive vice president, said in a statement yesterday.

“We will continue to work with The Bahamas government and the Ministry of Tourism to provide protection and support for tourists, should the need arise. This insurance protection plan was designed to achieve just that.”

CG Atlantic noted that its program is “a key addition” to the safe-travel regime that the government has put in place to ensure the safety of Bahamians and visitors and the health of the economy.

“The Bahamas government can be confident that this program will protect its tourists and the Bahamian people while helping to build and sustain the tourism economy,” Gibson said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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