Is Your Traveler’s Medical Insurance Coverage Better Than Your Beach Wear?
Expect the Unexpected: The Importance of Traveller’s Medical Insurance
Life is full of surprises. Some are pleasant and some…well, some are coming home from Hawaii to find your couch floating in 3 feet of water. Whether good or bad, wise travellers know that you should always expect the unexpected, especially when we tend to be more active on vacations. Snowboarding, windsurfing, hiking or running with the bulls may be exciting and fun, but can often result in injury (or horns in one’s backside) which is why being properly insured is imperative.
Indeed, we wouldn’t dream of getting in our car and driving without auto insurance, or owning a house without homeowner’s insurance, as the risk of going without is just too high. It is for these reasons that it is important that you not only get traveller’s medical insurance before you go abroad but, like that speedo you are thinking of taking with you to the beach, you get good coverage.
Did You Know?
Even if you are travelling to another province within Canada, it is strongly recommended that you purchase medical coverage. This is because, as The Globe and Mail article, Don’t leave home without it: The importance of travel insurance, reports “your provincial healthcare plan only provides limited coverage for emergency medical costs outside of Canada, and even within Canada you may face costs that are only partially covered or not at all.”
Reading the Fine Print
Although your provincial health insurance will travel with you from province to province, the reality is that it will only pay for some, but not all of the unexpected medical expenses you incur outside of the province. It’s important to understand what you currently have, coverage-wise, and where the gaps and/or limitations are before travelling. If you have an existing insurance policy through work or a credit card used to purchase your trip, it would behoove you to read the details and find out what exactly you are covered for, and, more importantly, what you’re not covered for.
Avoid the Sticker Shock!
Some Canadians have found this out the hard way. When it comes to air ambulances, for example, Canadians almost always have to foot the bill, which can cost up to 30,000 dollars if they need to be airlifted after getting injured skiing in Whistler. Now that’s the kind of sticker shock no one needs on a ski vacation!
Don’t get Skimpy When Travelling Abroad!
Six Critical Things to Watch For in the Fine Print
According to a recent article on the CTV website, six things to watch for before purchasing medical insurance are:
Avoid plans with ‘change of health’ clauses
These clauses allow companies to jack up the price of the insurance if a customer does report a health change.
They also allow the company to void all the coverage if the patient failed to report even a minor ailment like a stomach flu before making a claim.
Make sure to check which ‘activities’ are excluded
Some policies have clauses stating they are void if the client takes part in dangerous activities, such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping or scuba diving without certification.
Understand what it says about alcohol and drugs
Clauses that void coverage for drinking too much alcohol are “fairly standard,” but some have more “generous” wording than others.
Watch out for long ‘stability’ periods
Stability clauses specify a time period for which a pre-existing condition, for example heart disease, needs to be “stable” before coverage kicks in.
Shorter is better, and one-week stability periods are common, so don’t accept those that have 90-day or 180-day stability periods, Cappon says.
Avoid policies with ‘murky’ questionnaires
Some insurers use medical questionnaires that are theoretically meant for them to help choose which level of insurance to sell a person, but in practice are set aside and reviewed only after a claim is made to look for “misrepresentations” that may let the company off the hook.
Attempting to extend credit card policies can be risky
Travel insurance coverage that comes free with some credit cards may be enough for some “very healthy people,” but it usually only covers a shorter period, like 15 days, and customers can get into big trouble when they try to purchase more over the phone.
Where Do I begin?
If you are not sure what coverage you need or where to get it, we recommend that you visit BCAA’s travel insurance webpage. They are a trusted organization and can help you get the right coverage for your trip, as your coverage may vary in scope and price depending on the length of your trip, your age, the number of people needing coverage and the frequency of your travel. You can purchase traveller’s medical insurance quickly and easily on their website, or call them for one to one consultation and advice. For extra ease of mind, they also have a toll-free emergency assistance number that you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We wish you the most wonderful, amazing, adventurous and exciting vacation possible, but please make sure you protect yourself and your loved one’s by getting the right traveller’s medical insurance for the trip. Also, maybe skip the running with the bulls and the speedo.