Travel insurance questions you need to ask

July 28, 2015

Whether you are a lucky snowbird or just finally escaping for that tropical holiday, we all should spend a little time to get to know the facts when it comes to travel insurance. Here's what you need to ask to get the right coverage before you travel.

Travel insurance questions you need to ask

1. Understanding your coverage

Always check the small print of your policy and take a copy with you so you can inform your insurer immediately of any claim you need to make.

  • Reporting a crime: It is vital to make sure you meet the criteria for reporting a crime. Most companies stipulate that the police must be notified within 24 hours of any incident and will expect an official report for your claim to be validated. If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a crime, you may be too distressed to think clearly, so make sure you are prepared in advance for this eventuality.
  • Getting the right coverage: Not all travel medical insurance is created equal. In order to compare apples with apples, find out how much coverage you have. Medical coverage usually has a limit. If you're going to a low-cost country like Thailand, $500,000 in coverage might be enough, while in the United States you might opt for a higher limit.

2. What you need to ask

  • Does your chosen plan require you to pay for treatment up front and then be reimbursed later? If so, make sure you have a hefty credit card limit.
  • Does the plan have a deductible? You need to find out if it is within your means.
  • What does it cover? Will it cover the cost of returning you home to Canada? Will it allow relatives to fly in?
  • If your medical emergency arises from a pre-existing medical condition, will you still get treatment? Chances are good you will not.
  • Does the policy exclude activities and sports in which you might participate? Many policies don't cover various activities, particularly "extreme sports" such as bungee jumping and skydiving.

3. Specialized snowbird insurance

"Travelling without supplemental health insurance is akin to gambling with your life savings," says the Canadian Snowbird Association, which recommends that all Canadian snowbirds purchase additional travel medical insurance.

  • The Snowbird Medipac Program, which you can — if you meet the criteria — apply to online on the association's website, offers up to US$1,000,000 in comprehensive medical benefits, including hospital expenses, doctor's care, as well as prescription drug coverage.
  • The Snowbird Medipac Program also provides access to help and advice in emergency situations. They have handled thousands of emergency cases and their coverage includes a lot of little extras, for example:
    • Ambulance and paramedic fees.
    • Return of your vehicle to your home in Canada (including trailer or motor home).
    • Travel expenses to bring a relative to your bedside.
    • Return of your spouse to Canada.
    • Act as a liaison with your family doctor.

To get an idea of what some websites are charging for travel insurance, research different companies on the Internet by searching "travel insurance".

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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