TIPS: Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance Tips: What you need to know.
We are spoiled here in Canada, with the depth and breadth of our own health care system. As a result, most of us have NO idea what medical care costs elsewhere, and we’ve become pretty blasé about things like travel insurance. In fact 50% of us travel without it. Scary stuff, when you consider that the United States is our most popular travel destination, and has the most expensive medical care in the world.
That eye-opening fact came after a conversation with a leading travel insurance provider, RSA Travel Insurance Inc. And if the cost of U.S. medical care isn’t reason alone to make sure you’re covered, here are a few more things to consider and why you really can’t afford to leave home without it:
Slips and Falls
Travel insurance isn’t just for adrenaline junkies. The most common travel insurance claims*** are for sprains, strains, and tears, something that can happen because of an uneven cobblestone or a slippery curb. Even a minor injury can mean a major hit financially, never mind something more serious.
Imagine travelling to a distant part of the United States, say Fort Mill and you have an innocuous accident at a bar no less. Without travel insurance, you will have to pay for your treatment, and if there is sufficient proof of third-party negligence in your case, you will want to pay for a good personal injury attorney in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Unfortunately, the medical costs can all add up, preventing you from hiring an attorney to file a claim. Travel insurance protects you from the financial uncertainty of travelling in a foreign land.
Are you a hunter? As in cross-border bargain hunter?
You probably don’t think about it, but even hopping across the border for a couple of hours to do some outlet shopping puts you at risk, because you are in another country. And all that money you saved at the 50% off sale at Coach won’t even put a dent in the cost of an American medical bill.
Not all provinces are created equal.
Crossing borders isn’t just about international borders, either. Provincial health care plans are all different and although most provinces have reciprocal agreements with each other when it comes to covering the cost of similar medical treatments, you may have to pay the difference if those costs aren’t equal. Don’t be surprised by what isn’t included in another province’s health care, and if you’re not sure which province pays for what, here is a great resource that can help.
Snowbirds: Know your limit and stay within it.
Every province has different rules for how long you can be away from your home residence and still be eligible for medical coverage. You may want to look at an ‘expatriate plan’ if you are planning to be away for longer durations. (Check out this list to see how many days you can be away from each province.)
“My credit card has me covered” – or does it?
Even if you think you might be insured through your premium credit card or group benefits plan, do your homework. Factors like the length of your trip or whether your trip was purchased entirely with your card may mean you aren’t as covered as you think. Financially half-covered might as well be not covered, so it’s better to get supplementary travel medical or trip cancellation/interruption insurance to plug those holes.
Tell the truth, and the whole truth …. on that medical questionnaire.
Medical questionnaires usually kick in between the ages of 55-60, and can be intimidating or confusing, so if you aren’t sure about something, ask! This is no time to be cagey or assume you might be covered if you don’t disclose something you consider minor, just to save yourself a few bucks. (But don’t worry, peeing when you laugh is not considered a ‘pre-existing condition’!)
Trip cancellation – sometimes it’s not all about you.
Do you have kids at home? Aging parents? This is where trip cancellation/interruption can be your best friend, should something happen with a loved one back home that requires you to cut your trip short. It can also cover you if something serious happens to your house while you’re away, or even if that cruise you booked suddenly gets cancelled at the last minute.
Just make sure you look at when you need to purchase this insurance, since you typically need to buy it at the same time you book your trip (or before any cancellation fees for that trip would come into effect.).
You may not consider horseback riding or mountain biking particularly risky because it’s something you do all the time. But some insurance companies might think differently. Make sure you read the fine print about what putting yourself into ‘high-risk’ situations means, not by your definition, but by your insurance provider’s. And if you have any questions, ask! It always pays to double-check before your trip to find out if you are covered.
If you take multiple trips a year it may be more economical – and convenient – to get an annual plan. One policy covers you for the entire year, and you never have to think about it, even for those quick cross-border hops. Just make sure that you understand the maximum length those trips can be (i.e. most plans allow unlimited trips, but no individual trip can be for longer than 15 or 21 days)
* Source: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5295
** Source: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/arts37a-eng.htm
The above post was sponsored by Sun Life Financial but the content and opinions are my own.
TRAVEL INSURANCE PROVIDERS
Here’s an all-in-one site that does all the heavy lifting for you. It’s an aggregator which will give you quotes from multiple underwriters for any or all of the types of insurance you want, all with just one search. So at a glance you can see who is cheapest, and then proceed to contact them for your policy. Super easy!
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