You’ve just finished booking your dream trip, and the thought of something going wrong is something you just don’t want to consider. But, as we all know, stuff happens. “Think of vacation or travel insurance as a rubber covering for your shoe. No matter how careful you are, if you do end up walking in sh#%, at least the sh#% won’t get on you!” says Sheila Gallant-Halloran, a travel agent and expert. Plan for the best, and prepare for the unexpected.
But just like any kind of insurance, it can be hard to determine exactly what type of coverage suits your needs for your particular family, budget, and travel plans. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know, and what’s covered.
Q: Doesn’t my Provincial Health Plan cover me when I travel?
A: Provincial health plans are designed to care for you at home, not when you travel. If you get sick or injured while you’re away, your out-of-pocket medical expenses could add up to thousands of dollars. That’s why travel medical insurance is such a good idea. Before you leave your home province, check with your provincial Ministry of Health to see what’s covered.
Q: What are the basic types of insurance and how much do they cost?
A: Comprehensive is an “all in” type of insurance (and the most expensive), which covers things like emergency medical and dental benefits, hospital allowances, meals and accommodations, return of remains, dependents, pets and vehicles, emergency professional services, trip cancellation before departure, trip interruption, travel delay, loss or damage of baggage, flight accident insurance and travel accident insurance. Maximum amount of coverage will vary by provider. You can just purchase Medical Plan coverage, which covers all medical and dental situations, and accommodations, but doesn’t include trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delays, or baggage claims. Similarly, you can look at just Trip Cancellation and Baggage coverage, which doesn’t include medical or dental coverage, just trip cancellation/interruption, baggage claims, etc. Cost will vary on personal medical details, length of travel, place of travel, cost of trip, and other factors.
Q: What’s the number one reason people need travel insurance?
A: According to PC Financial Insurance, the most common reason for a claim with the Comprehensive/All Inclusive trip cancellation program is when travelers have to cancel their trip due to an untimely illness of either the insured, a travelling companion and/or an immediate family member. Families who purchase Emergency Medical Travel Insurance usually claim for illness and/or injury of their children – this can happen when we’re on vacation and we’re trying new foods, and new experiences, or both (hang gliding after that burrito might not be the best idea). The average cost of this type of claim is $1,000.00 to $1,500.00, but beyond the expense, it’s the comfort of knowing you have someone to call when a child or other loved one is injured and you want to ensure the best treatment possible.
Q: What isn’t covered with travel insurance?
A: Often claims are denied because the claimant has not fully disclosed their medical conditions and/or medications that they are taking while applying for insurance. It’s just not worth it to try to get a lower rate if it means not being able to get compensated at all. Fill out the questionnaire honestly to ensure your coverage is 100% guaranteed. It’s important to note that most insurance companies will deny all claims – even if it does not pertain to their medical condition – if the medical questionnaire is not completely truthful.
Q: Are there any extras that can come with purchasing travel insurance?
A: Some insurers provide “Concierge Service”, and some is available 24/7. This service can be available before the trip, and during. The concierge acts as a concierge in a hotel would – making recommendations about restaurants, getting theatre/event tickets, etc. A type of insurance that you won’t have to scramble to organize activities when you arrive in a strange place. They can also help with travel documents, emergency cash transfers, an emergency message centre, and interpretation services. Additionally they can advise on passport, visa, and vaccine requirements, provide travel safety and health advisories, embassy contacts, and weather and currency information. These services vary by provider; check to see what is included.
Gallant-Halloran offers some final words of advice. “One time when I couldn’t get a client to buy travel insurance stands out. I helped him plan some well-deserved pampering for his wife after the birth of their third child. We booked the best hotels, had great air transportation, and a terrific week in London planned around the Michael Jackson concert at O2 arena. He wouldn’t buy insurance. In fact, his fateful words to me were: “the only way in hell we won’t go to this concert is if someone dies.” Big pause. “Sh#% happens.”