Tis the Season to be Travelling
The summer season has officially arrived. In the coming weeks, throngs of people will head out on the highways of our beautiful country and pack airport terminals at all hours of the day. The last thing that anyone wants to think about is a medical emergency occurring while on vacation. There are some things that should be thought about prior to departing on any trip to alleviate stress about the unknown.
Does travel within Canada need insurance?
Accidents can happen anywhere, but it’s important to distinguish travel needs based on specific destinations. There are interprovincial health care agreements that allow care for out of province patients to be covered. In most cases the costs are minimal (if any) with the presentation of a valid provincial health care card. In addition to the interprovincial arrangements in place, most group benefits programs are set up in a way that allows emergency claims from out of province to be paid. It is advisable to check group benefit coverage through an employer prior to the beginning of any trip to be sure of any gaps that may exist. In some cases, depending on needs, it may make sense to purchase additional medical insurance within Canada to minimize the potential out of pocket expenses.
What about travel outside of Canada?
Exploring outside of our country is exciting and enriching, but when the unexpected happens it can be unnerving to say the least. Medical emergencies can be limited to thousands of dollars or reach upwards of hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions for catastrophic emergencies). Prior to departing, it is advisable to check all group benefit coverage as most contracts have out of country medical emergency coverage. A typical maximum is $2,000,000, which is generally offered as a lifetime or per trip maximum. If there is coverage through a group program, there will be a 1-800 number that can be utilized should a medical emergency occur. Often this coverage will take care of the communication with the hospital and coordinate the resulting claims payment directly with the provider. There are many third-party travel coverage options to purchase should out of country coverage not be active on existing group coverage.
Often the group coverage available, or individual coverage purchased, will have pre-trip consultation benefits available to provide extra peace of mind going into a vacation.
Food for thought: In our experience, the average cost of an out of country claim is approximately $100,000.
Are all emergencies covered?
It is recommended that all policy restrictions are understood. Some conditions may be considered pre-existing and could be excluded from coverage. Always a good idea to also know up front if there are any activities/sports that are excluded.
Does it matter how long a trip is?
The duration of a trip matters, whether in or out of country. Typically, the trip duration can be anywhere from 1-90 days with coverage offered under group benefit programs. It is advisable to check existing coverage prior to departure to ensure the length of the trip is covered, and to have time to be able to fill in the gaps with extra coverage where needed.
Check the destination.
Always check travel advisories prior to departure. Also, be aware of when coverage will not exist because of an advisory.
The Government of Canada posts and updates advisories daily; this should be checked prior to any travel outside of Canada.
Need to cancel a trip or baggage gets lost?
Generally, group insurance coverage is not meant to cover these inconveniences & financial hardships. There are many robust coverages for this through, for example, travel providers and often offered by bank/credit card companies.
Wishing a happy summer season and safe travels to all.
“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus