Coronavirus (COVID‑19)

Information for Policyholders and Intermediaries
for Private Sector Groups

Last updated: July 8, 2022 at 3:15 p.m.

Services maintained, but prioritized

All your claims will be processed as quickly as possible by our employees working remotely.

A general information page related to COVID-19 is available and updated on a continuous basis.

We are monitoring the situation closely so that we may quickly adapt and continue to serve through this difficult period.

Online Services for Administrators and Plan Members

The secure website ACCESS | Administrators lets you easily manage your group insurance plan. You may use it at any time to register new participants, make changes to existing files and consult your invoicing documents.

To avoid long wait times over the phone, encourage your employees to use our Customer Centre. It may be accessed on our website and on our mobile app.

FAQ - traditional products

Reduced work hours

What happens if I reduce my employees’ hours?

To accommodate your employees, SSQ Insurance will temporarily allow members to maintain their coverage, even if the hours worked are reduced below the minimum number of hours required to be eligible for insurance coverage.

The salaries of my employees have decreased due to reduced work hours. Will their benefits be impacted?

Salary-based benefits, either for life insurance or disability insurance (short and long term), will be paid based on the in-force salary, i.e., the salary used to determine the premium to be paid.

Management of temporary layoffs and eligibility period

How does the new Infectious Disease Emergency Leavel (IDEL) affect the group insurance of Ontario employees?

**For employers governed by the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA)**

Created for non-unionized employees whose hours of work have been temporarily reduced or eliminated by their employer due to COVID-19, they can now take advantage of the new IDEL and maintain their group insurance plan providing the payment for insurance premiums is still made. Employees may also decide not to maintain their group plan during the leave and stop paying their premiums. In such a case, the employer is required to contact the account manager at SSQ Insurance.

The IDEL will end on September 24, 2021 inclusively.

Certain conditions apply to this measure:

  • Employees who stopped paying their premiums before May 29, 2020, cannot benefit from their group insurance coverage during the special leave.
  • Employers who stopped making contributions to their benefits plan as of May 29, 2020, are not required to maintain or reinstate that plan during the special leave
  • SSQ Insurance had already allowed for insurance benefits to be maintained on a special basis even if the employer’s policy did not normally provide for this possibility in the event of a temporary layoff. For employers governed by the ESA, SSQ Insurance will now allow disability insurance benefits to be maintained until September 24, 2021 inclusively.
  • The employers may maintain full coverage for their employees with a temporarily reduced work schedule until September 24, 2021. Subsequently, group administrators will be required to inform SSQ Insurance of the reduced salary amounts.
  • The only disease for which special leave due to an infectious disease can be taken, to date, is COVID-19.
What happens if I have to temporarily lay off employees as a result of the exceptional COVID-19 situation?

We will apply the terms of the temporary layoff clause provided for in your contract. If the continued protection clause of your contract does not meet your needs, we invite you to contact your account manager.

Note that when an insured becomes disabled during a temporary layoff period, the waiting period provided for in the contract begins on the date the employee is recalled to work.

We wish to remind you that it is your responsibility to update your employees’ files for temporarily laid off status (contractual or not). Failing to do so will result in longer claim processing times.

Can I suspend my group insurance coverage?

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider the consequences of suspending your group insurance coverage. Should you still wish to temporarily suspend your plan, you may submit the request to your account manager.

Can I, as an employer, pay the full premium, including for disability coverage, during the layoff? Will that affect the income tax status for the employees?

If you cannot collect premiums from the employees during the layoff, you can pay the full premium and then get it back when your employees return to work. This will not affect the tax status of the coverage.

How will billing be adjusted to take into account layoffs and changes to the coverage that is maintained?

The calculation method will be the same as normally used for the contract management.

What happens if an employee had not completed the eligibility period before being laid off?

Employees who have completed their eligibility period during their temporary layoff will be eligible for the insurance plan on day 1 of their rehiring/return to work.

Does SSQ Insurance accept retroactive layoffs from the employer?

No. SSQ Insurance will not accept retroactive layoffs.

Healthcare Claims Management

Virtual paramedical care, an option during the confinement period

In order to continue to meet the needs of their clients who still require their services, some health professionals offer their services virtually. In order to accommodate policyholders who need urgent consultations while waiting for the situation to return to normal, SSQ Insurance will agree to reimburse virtual meetings with several professionals to the extent that the type of expense if covered in the contract.

Telephone or videoconferencing consultations should follow the guidelines for each type of health professional. Only certain services are eligible, and pre-recorded sessions are not covered.

  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Social worker
  • Speech therapist
  • Dietician
  • Physiotherapist1
  • Dentist1
  • Occupational therapist1

1certain services only

Will the deadline on the expiry of HCSA credits be extended to accommodate claims for medical services that were not available due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Under the Income Tax Act, credits remain valid for a maximum of 24 months. Credits carried over from the past year (12-month duration) can be used for services rendered in the current year. SSQ Insurance will not extend the deadline for expiry of the credits.

Are COVID-19 tests covered?

COVID-19 screening tests are not covered under your group insurance plan. For the time being, COVID-19 diagnostic tests (including rapid tests) are provided for free by provincial healthcare plans and are therefore not eligible under your contract. However, COVID-19 PCR tests are covered under your Health Spending Account with a prescription.

Serological tests are not eligible for reimbursement under your group insurance plan because they are not used to detect the COVID-19 virus itself, but antibodies.

Life and Disability Claims Management

Are disability insurance claims related to COVID-19 covered by short-term disability?

Yes, if you have a group insurance plan that includes disability; however, you must meet the requirements under your contract.

On disability and tested positive

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (tested positive for COVID-19) and are disabled (unable to perform the main functions of your job, including if you are working from home), you are eligible for short-term benefits. SSQ Insurance will apply the customary waiting period stipulated in your contract.

On disability, but not tested

If you have symptoms, have not been tested for COVID-19 and are disabled (unable to perform the main functions of your job, including if you are working from home), you are eligible for short-term benefits. SSQ Insurance will apply the customary waiting period stipulated in your contract.

In preventive quarantine

If you are quarantined as a preventive measure, you are not eligible for short-term disability coverage; in this case you must refer to Employment Insurance.

If it isn’t possible to see a healthcare professional because of symptoms consistent with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or a confirmed diagnosis, how can I submit a new disability insurance claim?

If you cannot have your physician complete the attending physician statement in the disability claim form, you can fill out the form below.

SSQ Insurance will continue to require the initial statement from the employer and employee.

Please note that SSQ Insurance reserves the right to may request further medical information based on the answers provided in this form (including the result of a PCR test or rapid COVID-19 test).

Will SSQ Insurance accept disability claims for conditions other than COVID-19 that aren’t signed by an employee and by the employer as some are working from home and don’t have access to a printer?

For forms that are fillable on the computer, employees and employers can print their names and date the forms so SSQ Insurance can proceed with the review of disability claims. The print of their name will serve as a signature during this crisis period. If the form isn't fillable on the computer, employees and employers should print it and take a picture or scan it.

What happens if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19?

If an employee is disabled as a result of a COVID-19 positive diagnosis, he or she becomes eligible for short-term benefits if their group plan includes disability coverage. In this case disability refers to the employee’s inability to perform his or her main job functions, even if working from home.

SSQ Insurance will reinstate the waiting period provided for in the contract for all disabilities that begin on November 9, 2020.

Our decision to return to standard claims processing is based on the recent introduction of the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), which provides financial assistance to employed and self-employed workers unable to work due to COVID-19, as well as our wish to look after the best interests of our policyholders by ensuring the viability of their group insurance plan. Standard processing means applying the same waiting period to all claims, regardless of the diagnosed illness causing the disability.

Will SSQ Insurance pay disability benefits to employees who go on disability leave as a result of COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes, if after COVID-19 vaccination complications cause an employee to go on disability leave, in accordance with the disability definition stipulated in the insurance contract, benefits will be paid.

Will SSQ Insurance cover death if it results from a possible complication following COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes, SSQ Insurance will pay the death benefit to the rightful claimant if the death results from a possible complication following COVID-19 vaccination, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the insurance contract.

Travel insurance

 

SSQ Insurance provides you with a reference guide to help you better understand your travel insurance coverage with respect to the various risk levels and travel advisories issued by the Government of Canada. Start using this helpful, user-friendly guide today!

What do I do if the airline cancels my trip?

If your airline cancels your trip, visit its website or contact your travel agent for the procedure to follow.

What to do in the event of lost or damaged baggage?

In the event of loss or damage, all claims must be addressed with your airline. Go to their website or contact your airline to find out what to do.

Can I cancel my trip if I'm sick with COVID-19 or another illness before I leave?

Yes, if the illness is severe enough to warrant cancellation. You will be asked to provide a medical report.

My passport cannot be renewed before my departure. Am I eligible for trip cancellation?

No, before booking your trip, you must ensure that your passports and visas are in order or will be before your departure.

What documents must I send to you when I submit a trip cancellation claim?
  • Completed and signed claim form
  • Proof of the trip’s cancellation from the service provider
  • Copy of all credits and reimbursements already obtained
  • Detailed receipts from your service provider, including their cancellation policy
  • Proof of payment for the trip (credit card or bank account statement)
  • Plane tickets (if applicable)
  • Completed and signed direct deposit reimbursement form (if applicable)
What documents must I send when I submit a claim for emergency medical care?
  • Detailed receipt including:
    • Name, signature and address of the health care provider
    • Location of service
    • List of services received
    • Cost and date of services received
  • Medical reports
  • Laboratory results (if applicable)
  • Proof of payment
  • Transaction record (if applicable)
  • Claim forms (completed and signed)
What type of situation does trip cancellation insurance cover?

Since October 1, 2020, the following situations apply BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE if your insurance includes trip cancellation coverage:

If the Government of Canada’s travel health notice for your travel destination changes from Level 1 or 2 at the time of purchase to Level 3* before your departure, then it is possible to cancel your trip. If you decide to travel, you will still be covered for travel assistance (emergency medical expenses including COVID-19) for as long as the Government of Canada’s travel health notice level does not change to Level 4*.

If the Government of Canada’s travel health notice for your travel destination changes from Level 1, 2 or 3 at the time of purchase to Level 4* before your departure, then it is possible and recommended that you cancel your trip. If you do not, you will not be covered for travel assistance.

*The Government of Canada issues 4 travel health notices for travel destinations as follows:

  • Level 1 - Exercise normal security precautions
  • Level 2 - Exercise a high degree of caution
  • Level 3 - Avoid all non-essential travel
  • Level 4 - Avoid all travel
How can I obtain reimbursement for a trip cancelled as a result of changes in travel advisories issued by the Canadian government?

To start, contact the first payer, namely, your travel service providers (e.g. your airline or travel agency), 72 hours before a deposit becomes due by your travel agent.

Then contact the travel assistance provided by your travel insurance, 72 hours before your departure or a deposit becomes due by your travel agent. The number is indicated on the back of your SSQ Insurance card or in your Customer Centre.

For Quebec residents who purchased a trip from a travel agency in Quebec

First, submit a reimbursement request directly to the Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents (CFCTA) in the following situations:

  • Transportation not received
  • Lodging not received
  • Tourist activities not received
  • Main service not received
  • Compromised security
  • Departure or repatriation required
  • Closure or bankruptcy of the travel agency

Then, you must submit a claims form to your travel insurance assistance service.

Since February 28, 2022, the alert level has remained at 2. In the event that that the Government of Canada were to raise it again (3 or 4), trip cancellation insurance could apply.

An advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada must be in effect at the time of departure.

If you were offered a travel credit as compensation, we consider this a reimbursement. We will therefore deduct the travel credit (whether you accepted it or not) from your insurance amount. If the travel credit is equal to your insurance amount, you will not receive any further reimbursement from SSQ Insurance.

What happens if the travel agency or airline offers a travel credit as reimbursement?

For SSQ Insurance, a travel credit is equivalent to a reimbursement. Therefore, whether you accept the travel credit or not, we will deduct this amount from the reimbursement.

If the travel credit is equal to the total amount, you will not receive any reimbursement from SSQ Insurance.

If you do not obtain a full reimbursement or credit for the cancellation of your trip, SSQ Insurance will reimburse you for the eligible expenses under your contract.

Am I covered if I travel in a country bordering on Ukraine?

Yes, you might be. For countries where the federal government has issued a level 1, 2 or 3 travel advisory,* you will be covered for emergency medical care. Unless you have war risk coverage, you will not be covered if the federal government issues a level 4 travel advisory. Please consult your contract for more details and refer to the Government of Canada site to find out the level of travel advisory that applies to the country where you will be travelling.

Please note that the situation is currently very unstable in countries bordering Ukraine and that it may deteriorate suddenly. The federal government’s travel advisory level could change in the coming weeks and accessing emergency medical care or repatriation may be difficult, even unfeasible, in some regions.

* The Government of Canada issues four levels of travel health notices for travel destinations:

  • Level 1 – Exercise normal security precautions
  • Level 2 – Exercise a high degree of caution
  • Level 3 – Avoid all non-essential travel
  • Level 4 – Avoid all travel
I need to cancel my trip because I do not meet the vaccination requirements (number of doses required, the type of vaccine, vaccination time frames, etc.) Am I eligible for a refund?

No. You are not eligible for a refund if you do not meet vaccination requirements, or if you do not meet the PCR / Antigen testing requirements as it is not a cancellation reason listed under your contract terms.

I plan to travel for a long period of time. Can I be covered by my travel insurance?

To be eligible for travel insurance, you must be covered by your provincial or territorial health insurance plan. If your trip exceeds the maximum number of days that you can be absent established by the province or territory, an exemption request must be completed.

Click on the province or territory of your choice to view the extended absence rules that apply.

I’m planning a trip. Am I covered for emergency medical expenses including those related to COVID-19 (travel assistance)?

Since October 1, 2020, emergency medical expenses, including those related to COVID-19, are covered for travel destinations for which the Government of Canada has issued a Level 1, 2, or 3* travel health notice. In accordance with your insurance policies, you must be in good and stable health before you leave on your trip.

Emergency medical expenses are not covered for travel destinations for which the Government of Canada has issued a Level 4* travel health notice.

* The Government of Canada issues four levels of travel health notices for travel destinations:

  • Level 1 – Exercise normal security precautions
  • Level 2 – Exercise a high degree of caution
  • Level 3 – Avoid all non-essential travel
  • Level 4 – Avoid all travel

Consult here the warnings

Which expenses are covered if the result of my COVID-19 screening test is positive while I am travelling and I am covered for this illness under my insurance contract?

The following expenses are covered according to the maximum amount under your contract:

  • Medical expenses
  • Additional expenses incurred to purchase a return ticket, or the cost of modifying your existing ticket, based on the following:
    • One-way ticket, in economy class
    • Flight aboard a commercial airline, on a fixed schedule
    • The most direct route to the point of departure

Accommodation and living expenses are not covered unless stipulated otherwise under your contract.

Does my insurance cover expenses related to mandatory stopovers (as required by the Government of Canada) in a third country?

Expenses related to mandatory stopovers in a third country are not covered by your travel insurance plan. This includes costs incurred related to living expenses, accommodation fees, and itinerary change fees.

I am forced to stay at my destination because all flights have been cancelled within the country I'm visiting. What is covered by my travel insurance?

Expenses related to emergency medical care, including those related to COVID-19 are covered. All other expenses including accommodation and living expense are not covered under your insurance contract.

What do I do if I contract COVID-19 while travelling and I am covered for this illness by my insurance policy?

Call your travel insurance assistance service. You will be referred to a healthcare professional.

This information is provided on your SSQ Insurance card and in your Customer Centre.

For those covered by CanAssistance, contact CanAssistance.

For those covered by AXA Assistance, contact AXA.

I'm planning a cruise. Am I covered for emergency medical expenses, including those related to COVID-19?

During a level 4 warning
You are not covered for emergency medical expenses, including those related to COVID-19. This is valid for all cruises, as long as the Canadian government maintains a level 4 warning, a warning to avoid all travel on a cruise ship.

During a level 3 warning or below
You are covered for emergency medical expenses, including those related to COVID-19. This is valid for all cruises, as long as the Canadian government maintains a level 3 warning and below.

Can I cancel my cruise and obtain a reimbursement?

If you want to cancel your cruise, the following conditions must be met:

  • You must have trip cancellation insurance.
  • The cruise must have been booked after March 7, 2022, when the Canadian government lifted its travel advisory to avoid all travel abord cruise ships.
I must remain at my destination because I am awaiting the result of my COVID-19 screening test. What is covered under my travel insurance?

Additional expenses incurred while awaiting COVID-19 screening test results are not covered (for example, the cost for new plane tickets or changing the return date on the existing ticket, accommodation and living expenses, etc.)

Can I cancel or extend my trip because I am placed under quarantine?

Yes, you can cancel or extend your trip if you are placed under quarantine as long as the quarantine ends 7 days or less before your scheduled departure date or occurs during your trip.

Before incurring any expenses, you must contact your travel insurance assistance service. The contact information is indicated on your SSQ Insurance card and in your Customer Centre.

For those covered by CanAssistance, contact CanAssistance.

For those covered by AXA Assistance, contact AXA.

SSQ Insurance is looking out for your client's mental health

We are offering free access to a telephone counselling service to its entire clientele across Canada to help them cope through this difficult period.

 

This FAQ addresses general questions. The answers we provide apply if your contract includes the benefits in question. Based on your insurance contract, some answers may not apply to your group. For more details, refer to the provisions and benefits provided for under the insurance contract.