A bill of rights for Canada’s travel health insureds is the latest attempt at bringing transparency and confidence to what is a unique sector.
The national Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA) released a decree of expected standards insurers should meet and responsibilities for clients - a balance brokers will play a key role in maintaining.
Buyers of travel insurance are entitled to no-obligation coverage that can be cancelled within 10 days without charge; full documentation; the ability to modify medical questionnaire answers; an appeal for denied claims; and identification of the underwriter.
THIA’s President Will McAleer said most insurers are already compliant with the Travel Insurance Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and brokers will need to answer lots of questions.
“Brokers need to understand that they too have a role in providing clarification when they’re selling it,” he said.
“Beyond that, if they don’t have the proper answer when they’re selling it, there are toll free numbers that are set up for all of the underwriters and the providers of these programs that will provide that clarification for the individuals,” McAleer added, saying that he thinks the brokerage community does a great job but it never hurts to get explanations straight from the horse’s mouth.
The bill follows the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators’ call for new standards in travel health insurance involving more training for brokers.
“THIA is going to come out with an educational initiative designed to deliver that good base of understanding for people who are going to distribute travel insurance,” McAleer said. “We’ve gone down the path of developing quite an extensive travel insurance curriculum and we’re looking at ways to develop it so we could put it out to the market for distributors to make sure that they’re up to speed on all of the issues but also so they can hold themselves up as real travel insurance experts.”
McAleer said the insured right that stands out the most is the right to review, cancel or alter coverage within 10 days of purchase without charge. That’s because critics of travel insurance argue clients often don’t know what they’re buying and the leeway for free alteration or cancellation helps address that.
“You get the right to a no-obligation purchase but you also get the right to, if you’re answering a medical questionnaire, when you make the purchase you can see what your answers were right then and there, so you have the opportunity before your trip, to correct the record,” McAleer said.
“Our approach was, ‘how can we create policies that allow travellers to go with even more peace of mind?’ We’re very pleased with the figure of 95.3% of claims being paid, but we want it to be higher.”