Don’t leave home without travel health insurance
By Terri Williams
Each winter millions of Canadians escape our cold dreary winters with a vacation in the sunny south. If you are one of the lucky ones, be sure to consider travel medical insurance as part of your planning process.
Our provincial medical plans cover only a fraction of the cost of medical care outside of the country. Travel insurance can protect you from those extra costs.
Travel insurance comes in many forms.
Many people have coverage through their employee benefit plan. But, if you are traveling on vacation (not on company business) be sure you, and your family, are still covered. If you don’t have coverage through your employer, you can buy travel insurance from many different suppliers including a travel medical insurance broker, student associations, travel agents, seniors associations or your bank or insurance company.
The types of coverage available vary greatly. You can buy coverage for your once a year trip, or if you travel often ‘for example to the US for cross-border shopping, you can buy annual coverage valid for all your trips.
The key to getting the right coverage to meet your needs is to shop around. Here’s what to look for to get the best deal for the coverage you need:
- competitive rates. Be sure to shop around and ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
- medical questionnaires. Be sure to read these carefully and answer them honestly. Your health helps determine your rates, along with your age and travel duration. Be sure to make full disclosure of pre-existing medical conditions or your policy could be useless.
- 24 hour support. Make sure your plan has a 24-hour support line where they can be contacted if you do run into medical problems.
- upgrades. Some plans let you pay a small cost to upgrade your policy to include trip interruption or cancellation coverage due to illness or even baggage coverage if your luggage is lost.
- coverage limits. You can purchase policies with different coverage limits, for example, $2 million or $5 million.
Terri Williams, CFP®, is Vice President, Marketing and Brand Management for DundeeWealth Inc.