Coronavirus (COVID‑19)

Information for Policyholders and Intermediaries
for Private Sector Groups

Last updated: March 16, 2021 at 2:30 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 July 3, 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 July 3, 2021 inclusively.
  • The employers may maintain full coverage for their employees with a temporarily reduced work schedule until July 3rd, 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 screening tests eligible for reimbursement?

All COVID-19 screening tests, done by a private facility and previously approved by Health Canada, will be reimbursed, in compliance with contract terms, for all insurance policies that have the Laboratory analyses clause. These tests must be medically required to be eligible for reimbursement.

However, serological tests indicating whether or not a person has contracted COVID-19 are not covered.

Life and Disability Claims Management

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!

How can I get reimbursed after cancelling my trip?
  1. Call the first payers, i.e., your travel services providers (e.g., your travel agency, airline, etc.).
  2. Contact your travel insurance assistance service. It is provided on the back of your insurance card and in the Customer Customer Centre.

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

Exceptionally during the COVID-19 pandemic, you do not have to submit a reimbursement request to the Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents (CFCTA).

You must submit a claim to your travel insurance assistance centre.

Your trip must have been purchased prior to March 13, 2020.

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.

Please note that reimbursements from our assistance centre will take 3 months to process.

My travel agent requires me to pay another deposit within the next 30 days even though the all-trip and essential trip advisories are still in effect. Can I cancel my trip?

Yes, you can cancel your trip if it was booked before March 13. Deposits paid before March 13 will be reimbursed to you by SSQ Insurance.

Am I covered for COVID-19 if I want to travel?

As of October 1, 2020

Yes, you are covered for emergency medical expenses (including those related to COVID-19) for any destination for which a travel advisory notice was issued by the Government of Canada* (Levels 1, 2 and 3).

Your health must be good and stable before departure.

You can also visit https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories to check your destination’s risk level in real time.

SSQ Insurance provides you with a reference guide to help you better understand your travel insurance coverage.

*Travel advisory notice issued by the Government of Canada
Level 1 - Practise usual precaution
Level 2 - Practise special precautions
Level 3 - Avoid non-essential travel
Level 4 - Avoid all travel

Is trip cancellation or travel interruption coverage offered in time of the pandemic?

As of October 1, 2020

Trip cancellation or travel interruption is now offered in the following cases:

Before departure
Should the travel health notice for your destination country change from Level 1-2 to 3 or 4* before your departure, it will be possible to cancel your trip.

If the travel notice for your destination country changes from 3 to 4 before your departure, you will be able to cancel your trip.

During the trip
Should the travel health notice for your destination country change from Level 1-2 to 3 during your stay, you can either stay, while maintaining your travel assistance coverage, or interrupt your trip to return home within a maximum of 14 days.

However, should the government travel health notice change to Level 4, you must interrupt your trip and return home within a maximum of 14 days. If you do not return, you will lose your travel assistance coverage.

SSQ Insurance provides you with a reference guide to help you better understand your travel insurance coverage.

*Travel advisory notice issued by the Government of Canada
Level 1 - Practise usual precaution
Level 2 - Practise special precautions
Level 3 - Avoid non-essential travel
Level 4 - Avoid all travel

Are the costs for mandatory COVID-19 screening tests, which must be performed before returning to Canada, covered?

Costs for mandatory COVID-19 screening tests, performed at the request of a government authority before returning to Canada, are not covered by travel insurance.

Are the additional costs incurred for missed flights due to waiting for a mandatory COVID-19 test result covered?

Additional costs incurred while waiting for COVID-19 test results, performed at the request of a government authority, are not covered (for example, costs for a new plane ticket, change fees for an existing ticket, accommodation or living expenses, etc.)

If the result of COVID-19 screening test is positive, and the insurance policy covers this illness, what are the eligible expenses during the trip?

The following costs are eligible according to the maximum amount provided for under the contract:

  • Medical costs
  • Additional costs incurred for the purchase of a return ticket, or change fees for an existing ticket, according to the following parameters:
    • Single ticket
    • Flight operated by a public air carrier with fixed schedule
    • Most direct route to the initially planned destination

Accommodation and living expenses are not covered unless indicated in the contract.

Are expenses incurred because of the Canadian government’s mandatory quarantine covered by my travel insurance?*

Expenses incurred because of the Canadian government’s mandatory quarantine are not covered under your travel insurance.

The extra cost to purchase a one-way ticket (economy class) may be eligible for reimbursement. This applies if, because of the Canadian government’s mandatory quarantine, you find yourself in a province other than the one originally on your itinerary and, as a result, your return date is delayed. To be eligible for this coverage, your trip must have been purchased before January 29, 2021.

*Certain conditions may apply.

Are expenses for the mandatory quarantine required by a foreign country covered by my travel insurance?*

Expenses incurred for a mandatory quarantine required by your destination country are not covered by your travel insurance. 

It is the insured’s responsibility to inquire about the quarantine rules of the country they are travelling to.

If the foreign country's quarantine is imposed after you purchase your trip:

Any additional fees required by your airline to change your return date are eligible for refund, if the quarantine delays your return date.

If the foreign country's quarantine is imposed before you purchase your trip:

Any additional costs required by your airline to change your return date will not be eligible for refund.

*Certain conditions may apply.

Will SSQ Insurance cover medical expenses related to possible complications following COVID-19 vaccination?

During the trip
If you choose to get vaccinated in a foreign country, despite the Canadian government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel, SSQ Insurance will as an exceptional measure reimburse medical expenses that could arise from side effects of COVID-19 vaccination, in accordance with the travel insurance coverage stipulated in the insurance contract.

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.