Coronavirus (COVID‑19)

Information for Policyholders and Intermediaries
for Private Sector Groups

Last updated: September 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

Services maintained, but prioritized

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

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

Quotes and renewals

What happens if my plan is up for renewal soon? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020  

For groups of less than 50 members with a renewal process scheduled for April or May that has not yet been completed, we will agree, upon request, to postpone renewal until June 1, 2020.

Rates scheduled for April 1 or May 1 will apply on June 1. If an employer wants to change its contractual period from June 1 to May 31, can submit the request to their account manager to its account manager.

Note that the renewal date usually influences the date of payment of commissions. Therefore, a postponement of the renewal will also mean a deferral of commission payments in most cases.

Will the deadline on the quotes be extended?

No, our quotes remain valid for three months.

In the event of significant changes in the composition of the group, SSQ Insurance reserves the right to modify the quoted rates and fees included in the proposal.

Reduced work hours

What happens if I have to cut my employees’ hours? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020  

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? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020  

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.

Temporary layoffs

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

**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 January 4, 2021.

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 salary insurance benefits to be maintained until January 4, 2021.
  • The employers may maintain full coverage for employees with a temporarily reduced work schedule until the end of the state of emergency in Ontario. 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? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020  

If your policy already provides for the possibility of maintaining all coverage with premium payments during temporary layoff periods (including disability insurance coverage), then the grace period provided for in the policy will apply.

If your policy does not provide for maintaining disability coverage, we will agree to temporarily continue disability coverage until July 31, 2020 with premium payment. You must request this. The other coverage must also be continued with premium payment, as provided for in the policy.

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? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020   

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider the consequences of suspending your group insurance coverage. Before doing so, we also suggest that you review the new measures announced by the federal government concerning the wage subsidy for businesses. These measures can be consulted at canada.ca.

Should you still wish to temporarily suspend your plan, you may submit the request to your account manager. We will agree to suspend your group insurance plan coverage until July 31, 2020.

Please note that the suspension will apply to all benefits* and could, under certain conditions, apply by job category, if you wish. No administrative fees will be applied upon reinstatement. In the event of a significant change in the composition of the group, SSQ Insurance reserves the right to revise its rates. Evidence of insurability will not be required again upon reinstatement for amounts of coverage already held by employees prior to the suspension.

* In order to comply with the provisions of Quebec’s Act Respecting Prescription Drug Insurance, health insurance coverage must be maintained for a period of 30 days, with payment of premiums, for Quebec employers.

As an employer, can I pay all the premiums, including for disability coverage, during the layoff? Will that affect the income tax status for the employees? UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting August 1, 2020  

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 fiscal 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. The most common methods are either to calculate starting on the date of the event or at the beginning of the next billing period.

What happens if a disabled employee was set to return to work fulltime and then had to be laid off? Do the disability benefits continue to be paid?

No, the employee must apply for benefits under a government program (either the federal emergency fund or employment insurance).

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

The employee will be eligible for the insurance plan on the first day he or she is rehired or returns to work.

Healthcare claims

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. We considered the guidelines in each province for each type of provider. Please note that we will accept receipts for virtual meetings with several professionals:

  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Social worker
  • Speech therapist
  • Dietician
  • Physiotherapist*
  • Dentist*
  • Occupational therapist*

* Certain services only

Prior authorizations extended UPDATE

Return to normal for claims processing starting September 1, 2020.

All prior authorizations for prescription medication being taken by insureds and recorded as active on their file on March 1, 2020* have been extended to September 1, 2020, with the exception of those whose expiry date was already after that date.

We feel this measure contributes to social distancing efforts by reducing the number of non-urgent medical visits while maintaining access to treatment for insured persons. This measure also eases pressure on the healthcare system so that the necessary resources are available to fight the pandemic, for everyone’s benefit.

Take note that if we receive authorization or authorization extension requests, our regular procedures remain in place.

* Certain specific exceptions apply (e.g., treatments with a fixed duration).

Will the deadline on the expiry of HCSA credits be extended to accommodate claims for medical services that have been cancelled 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 prescribed by a physician to be reimbursed.

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

Disability claims

Will SSQ Insurance accept disability claims for conditions other than COVID-19 that aren’t signed by employee and by employer as some are working from home and don't have 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.

Telemedicine

The moratorium on integrating telemedicine into your group insurance contract has been lifted

We are now able to instate Dialogue in an integrated mode for new telemedicine requests for SSQ Insurance group plan contractholders who don’t already have it.

* This information cancels and replaces what was previously communicated.

Travel insurance

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 SSQ Insurance will take 3 months to process.

My travel agent is obliging 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? UPDATE

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 to avoid all non-essential travel (Level 3).

Your health must be good and stable before departure.

Is trip cancellation or travel interruption coverage offered in the event of COVID-19? UPDATE

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.

*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

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.