Industry News > Travel Insurance More Essential Than Ever; THIA Offers Tips

Travel Insurance More Essential Than Ever; THIA Offers Tips

posted on 8:22 AM, October 27, 2008
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 27, 2008) - With Canadians expected to make more than seven million trips out of the country this winter season, the importance of packing adequate travel insurance policies with their essential documents has never been more important.

"Whether it's a one-week trip to Cuba or a six-month snowbird vacation to Florida, Texas or Arizona, the risks of travelling without supplemental health insurance coverage are enormous," says Martha Turnbull, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, the organization representing private travel insurance companies, brokers and agents. "Medical costs in all foreign countries, especially the United States, have risen so dramatically they are capable of wiping out many a family's life savings."

Since Canada's provincial health insurance plans cover only a small proportion of out-of-country health costs that it's not unusual for travellers to foreign countries to generate thousands of dollars of medical bills for even a few days of hospital confinement or outpatient treatment, adds Ms. Turnbull.

Recently, Ed Doucet a 33-year old Canadian on a cycling vacation in Spain flipped over his handlebars while riding down a mountain road and was hospitalized for five days with three pelvic fractures and four cracked ribs. His total hospital bill was $6,300.62 and his air ambulance repatriation with a special nurse cost another $16,426.88-a total of $22,727.50. Of that, OHIP paid $974.20. Astounding? Certainly. But if the accident had happened in the U.S. the hospital bill could easily have been $6,000 per day.

"We hear these kinds of stories every day," says Ms. Turmbull. "That's why we urge all Canadians planning out-of-country travel, even for one day, to take their time when assessing travel insurance and not wait to the last minute. It's best to do some homework. This is an important decision.

Ms. Turnbull suggests the following tips:

- Read your travel insurance policy. Understand its terms. And if in doubt, ask your agent to clarify or contact the insurer directly. Remember that travel insurance is not a substitute for your provincial insurance, it is a supplement to it and it has exclusions and limitations.

- Based on your age or trip duration, you may be asked to complete a medical questionnaire. Be honest with your answers. If you do not know how to answer a question, speak with your doctor.

- Consider plans that offer deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. For those who feel comfortable with a higher deductible, this is an excellent way to reduce insurance costs and therefore the overall costs of travel. But maker sure you can pay the deductible to the hospital, doctor, or clinic if and when you have to.

- Know your insurer. Deal with a reputable company licensed to sell travel insurance in your province. Make sure you know who the assistance company is, and that they provide you with a contact number, when and where you need help, on a 24/7 basis.

- If dealing with a foreign travel provider online, such as a cruise company, the travel insurance they provide may not be adequate. Check with a Canadian travel insurance agent or broker to see if you need to fill in any gaps in coverage.

- If you have only credit card travel insurance, check out its benefit and exclusion terms carefully.

- Only a few cards with relatively high annual premiums offer out-of-country health benefits comparable to stand-alone travel insurance. Check your contract carefully.

About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services. Its website is