The Year in Review: 2020

The year 2020 began with bad news from China concerning the emergence of a new virus known as COVID-19, but it was not until March that we discovered its full scope. I will not say more about its impacts during the year; we have all seen it on the news. However, as an organization we did have to adapt to the pandemic, by providing support for many insurance customers who had problems obtaining reimbursements from CanAssistance, the SSQ’s travel assistance service partner. Thanks to the remarkable efforts of our Coordinator, Line St-Cyr, many cases were settled to the satisfaction of the customers concerned. All that remained to be done was to assess the impacts of the travel insurance reimbursements on premium rates. Contrary to some other insurance companies, and given that we did not yet have all the claims for 2020 in hand when negotiating our 2021 contract renewal, we decided not to grant a premium holiday for the travel insurance component of the expanded plan, as recommended by our consulting actuary. However, we will re-examine the situation as soon as we have the latest results in hand. If those results are positive, we will offer a premium holiday or reduction on the 2022 renewal for insurance customers under 65 years of age and those aged 65 or over covered by the Expanded Plan.

 

Rates payable for 2021

In light of the analysis of the plan’s health carried out by the retirees’ consultant actuary and the Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor (SCT) actuary, and based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee for Retirees (ACR) representatives, the accident and health insurance rates payable in 2021 will differ as follows from those payable in 2020. As was the case last year, we are able to offer a premium holiday for insurance customers under 65 years of age (Basic Plan and Expanded Plan).

 

    Plan            Premium Holiday Variation (incl. holiday)
  Basic    
Under 65 - 5 %   1,9 %
65 and over None - 5,0 %
  Expanded    
Under 65 - 5 %   2,5 %
65 and over None - 7,3 %

 

The additional premium for participants aged 65 or over who chose to remain insured by SSQ Insurance for prescription drugs on the RAMQ list is reduced by 10%.

For retired plan members’ life insurance and optional life insurance for members’ spouses, rates will remain unchanged. For details of the rates applicable to your particular situation, please see the insurer’s brochure “Your Plan at a Glance”, which you will receive shortly. It is also available on the ACR website.

 

Beneva

This new company resulted from the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance. Jean-François Chalifoux, its President and CEO, said this in a press release: “Since the integration and transition will take place gradually, you will see no change to our operations for the time being. You will therefore continue to work with the same enterprise, and with the same agreements and operational methods.”

 

Plan Sustainability

The tripartite committee began its work last January, but meetings from February onwards were cancelled because of COVID-19. A new meeting was held on December 10, at which the topics discussed included the consequences of a partial or total closure of the plan and the introduction of a new contract holder (i.e. creation of an NPO). Another meeting will be held in late January 2021. In the meantime, we have asked the SCT representatives to check with their authorities to see if potential solutions can be proposed to help participants under 65 who must pay high rates.

 

Departures from the ACR

Yves Bolduc, the retirees’ representative from the Association des gestionnaires de la santé et des services sociaux (AGESSS), has informed me that he is retiring for personal reasons. We thank him for his contribution to the ACR.

 

Travel insurance

SSQ Insurance has made some changes to the travel insurance plan as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • The timeframe for contacting the travel assistance company has been clarified for pre-departure travel cancellations due to travel warnings from the Canadian Government (72 hours before a deposit is payable or 72 hours before the planned departure date, whichever is earlier).

  • Amounts paid to accredited reservation platforms such as Airbnb have been added to the definition of travel expenses paid in advance.

  • The minimum distance of 400 km (return trip) has been removed from the definition of what constitutes a trip.

For private rentals, you must have a legal contract that includes a cancellation clause. For the time being, we have asked SSQ Insurance to provide a model contract to be signed by the insured and the landlord.

Lastly, although our insurance contract provides COVID-19 insurance with some exceptions (cruises, countries located in Zone 4), we suggest that you avoid all non-essential travel. 

 

Financial statements

We have received a request to provide you with your plan’s financial statements. We feel this is a valid request and have notified the SCT representatives, but have not yet received a response.


 

We take advantage of the opportunity to extend season’s greetings and to wish you a safe and careful holiday period.

 

Hang in there!  Daniel Dubé, Retirees’ Spokesperson, ACR

Newsletter « The Savvy Retiree »  December 21, 2020