Do not underestimate
Much more than a mere formality, travel insurance is essential! Without it, do you know how much a simple accident or illness can cost you? As an example: Mary’s trip to New York. (For the record, the United States is a country where health care is most expensive.)
On a beautiful morning, Mary tumbled down the stairs of her hotel and broke her left leg tibia. She was hospitalized half a day. The bill: CAN $4700. The amount reimbursed by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ)? CAN $170. As you can see, the RAMQ does not pay much for care received abroad. Worse, the RAMQ does not reimburse medication purchased outside Quebec nor fees for air ambulance transportation. If Mary had not purchased private insurance, she would be out of pocket $4,530.
Many people buy private insurance because they are unaware they are covered by their credit card or insurance plan. If you do have credit card or insurance plan coverage, check with your provider to ensure you have sufficient coverage.
Depending on the type of card you have, your coverage will vary. With group insurance plans, there are often limits with relation to health insurance emergencies. If you feel that your protection is insufficient, you can add to it. For example, if no cancellation option is included, you can buy this coverage separately.
If you encounter problems, contact all your insurers. They will arrange among themselves to determine who will provide the support. Finally, note that, in case of theft of your luggage, your household insurance can supplement the compensation paid by your insurance luggage. In fact, house insurance typically covers up to 10% of the sum insured for goods stolen outside the home.
You must shop
You can purchase travel insurance from an insurer, a financial institution or a travel agency. Start by looking at existing offers on the web and contact their customer service to ask them to explain, point by point, the coverage of their plan.
If you feel that you’re not getting very clear explanations, walk away. Many people had a claim denied because they misunderstood their contract, including the limits of their coverage.
You will choose full coverage
A travel insurance plan includes various components. The most important is the health emergency coverage, which can prevent you from having to pay huge medical bills. For complete protection, choose a plan that also includes:
A hotline, which may include legal assistance, a multilingual help desk, etc.
– Cancellation and trip interruption coverage, which allows you to recover the sums paid in advance if you must cancel or shorten your stay. (Grounds for suspension or cancellation taken into account generally include death, an accident or a health problem.)
– Accidental death or dismemberment coverage.
– Baggage insurance, which covers lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
Different criteria are used by insurers to set their prices such as the length of stay, number of people covered, health status, occupation, etc. These elements allow insurers to assess the risk that something might happen to you. And of course, the more risk, the more expensive the policy. Age is considered an additional risk factor, and therefore, for the same trip, a senior citizen will pay a higher price than a thirty-year old.
Pay attention to exclusions
Example: You’re in Cuba at the most popular bar at your resort. Unfortunately, you’ve sipped on one too many mojitos….. Then you slip and fall. You end up with three cracked ribs. Wouldn’t it be awful to find out that you’re not covered? Why wouldn’t you be? Because all contracts have restrictions and limitations and very often the abuse of drugs and alcohol is one such restriction. This is called an exclusion. In other words, a risk that the insurer doesn’t cover.
Among the most common exclusions are dangerous sports (parachuting, scuba diving, etc.), pregnancy complications, injuries during a war and mental disorders. This is an important issue. It’s essential to read the small print and make sure the insurance meets your travel needs.
Disclose all information
Still on the subject of exclusions: You need to disclose all pertinent information, no matter how personal it might seem, including pre-existing medical conditions or anything else about your health. Disclosing as much information as possible in relation to your health is essential for proper coverage.
Example: You have bronchitis and you’re being treated with antibiotics. You forgot to mention this when you purchased your travel insurance. Once abroad, your illness turns into pneumonia. Will you be covered? No, because bronchitis was a pre-existing condition known to you when you purchased the insurance.
The number one rule: never lie to insurers. Medications, chronic or even minor health problems… all should be discussed with your insurance representative to ensure you have sufficient coverage.
What emergency means
It’s important to understand that travel insurance is coverage meant to protect you in emergency situations i.e. unexpected or sudden illnesses or accidents. It’s not meant to cover normal care that can wait until the person returns home. The same goes for unsecured destinations. Some are not covered as they fall within the perimeters of what is considered predictable.
Buy at the right time
The sooner the better. Some insurers allow a very short window of opportunity to purchase cancellation insurance, sometimes as little as 48 hours after the reservation is made.
A contract – A must
Make sure to get a copy of your travel insurance contract prior to your departure and read it. Also, it is recommended that you take a copy with you while on travel and that you leave a copy with a relative. In the unfortunate circumstance that you die while on a trip, your relative will be able to review your contract and ensure the terms of your return to this country are observed and respected.