Truck drivers crossing Canadian-US border struggle to find COVID-19 coverage

Photograph from Shutterstock.

Major insurance companies won’t commit to honoring COVID-19-related claims by truck drivers crossing the Canadian-American border, reports The Chronicle Herald[1], a Canadian newspaper. The position threatens to stymie the delivery of seafood. US president Donald Trump and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday confirmed that they were closing the border[2] to all but essential travel, but said they would make an exception for cargo.

When it comes to seafood, the US and Canada are among each others’ biggest trading partners and rely on trucks to deliver their products. The US imported 305,415 metric tons of seafood worth £3.4 billion from Canada in 2019, while Canada imported 13,141t of seafood worth £68.0 million from the US, according to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, truck drivers are weighing the risk of doing the work of transporting items across borders, as each trip is followed by a self-quarantine.

“Our truckers come home but can’t see their families,” said William Gerhardt, owner of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based Gerhardt Trucking. “We have one guy who is staying in his truck when he gets back.” Gerhardt said he called his insurance broker on Monday to ensure his workers are covered if they come down with COVID-19 while picking up loads in the United States and was told they weren’t. The Chronicle Herald describes hearing the same from multiple sources, including the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

Illnesses and accidents are covered, but the virus is not, one Halifax, Nova Scotia, broker confirmed for the newspaper. “There’s no way for insurance companies to handle that burden, they’d go bankrupt,” said the broker, who is not being identified because his business relies on dealing with the large insurance companies. “We have a couple of companies that will do special risk, but that’s expensive.” Optimal Travel, a broker in Moncton, New Brunswick, told the Chronicle Herald that it does offer a separate plan to cover COVID-19 that can be used in addition to group insurance.

The rates are based on the age of the insured and the maximum length of their visits south of the border, according to the newspaper.

References

  1. ^ The Chronicle Herald (www.thechronicleherald.ca)
  2. ^ confirmed that they were closing the border (www.undercurrentnews.com)

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