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Travel insurance tips

We've assembled the following list of travel insurance info-tips to help you sort through the maze of options a traveler is faced with when dealing with Travel insurance.

  l What is travel health insurance?
l Why do I need travel health insurance?
l Where can I buy travel health insurance?
l What does travel health insurance usually cover?
l How can I make a claim?
l What else do I need to know?
l Travel heath insurance policy checklist

What is travel health insurance?

It's insurance you buy when you plan to travel outside Canada. If you get sick or have an accident before you return, travel health insurance can cover the costs of your medical emergency.

Why do I need travel health insurance?

If you travel outside Canada without travel health insurance you're taking a risk. Once you leave Canada, your provincial government health plan may only cover a portion of your medical or hospital expenses. Whether you're on a day-trip, a weekend business conference or a six-week vacation, you'll be responsible for paying most of your out-of-Canada emergency medical expenses - unless you arrange travel health insurance before you leave. Some out-of-country hospitals won't even admit you without health insurance.

Where can I buy travel health insurance?

You'll find application forms and brochures at banks, supermarket information counters, at pharmacies, drugstores or travel/insurance agents or brokers.

Some people have travel health coverage through their employee or retirement benefits package, their bank card or automobile association. Check before you buy special coverage.

When you do buy travel health insurance, read your policy carefully. Price and benefits vary from one policy to another, as do policy restrictions and limitations, and procedures for making claims and payments.

What does travel health insurance usually cover?

Travel health policies cover most unavoidable medical emergencies and accidents you could experience traveling outside Canada.

But travel health policies do not cover every type of medical treatment.

  • No travel health policy will cover you for non-emergencies, or what is called elective surgery. You can't use your policy to go outside Canada for routine health care, even if your physician recommends the treatment.
  • Few policies will cover your medical treatment if your injuries are caused by a dangerous sport, substance abuse or war.
  • Some policies will not cover you if you're traveling to certain countries or have reached a certain age.
  • Most policy applications ask questions about your current health and about past problems and conditions. The insurance company may not cover medical expenses related to these pre-existing conditions, including conditions you control by medication or treatment. Be sure to discuss any chronic condition with the insurance company offering the policy -- particularly if your doctor made a recent change in your medication.

How can I make a claim?

Procedures vary from company to company.

Under some policies, you pay the hospital first, then the insurance company that wrote your policy reimburses you. Other companies pay the hospital directly. Your policy will tell you which procedure to follow. If you are uncertain whether a medical treatment will be covered, call your insurance company first before getting the treatment.

Some policies include a deductible or co-payment clause. For example, if you agreed to a $250 deductible, you'll have to pay the first $250 towards any claim. If the claim is $250 or less, you would pay the full expense. If you agreed to a co-payment clause, you may have to pay a certain percentage of your medical bills.

What else do I need to know?

Take your travel health policy with you when you leave Canada. Keep your insurance company's phone number and your Provincial health card with you as well. Save any receipts, and submit your claim (keeping copies) as soon as possible especially where a time limit applies.

Travel heath insurance policy checklist

Here are some of the questions you should ask and points to consider when shopping for coverage that suits you.

  1. Comparison shopping and making your choose on rate alone without reviewing the limitations and restrictions is not recommended.
  2. What is the maximum each policy will pay above the provincial health card limits?
  3. Does the policy exclude certain activities I participate in? (scuba diving, contact sports, hang-gliding, skydiving)
  4. Is there an age limit for who can apply?
  5. If you agree to an onerous clause in the agreement, you are stuck with the outcome.
  6. Does age affect the kind of coverage I can expect?
  7. Taking anything for granted is a bad idea.
  8. Check out the benefits and understand the shortcomings of the insurance contract.
  9. Compare the coverage limitations e.g. A limit on the amount of coverage (capping) the maximum amount to be paid out.
  10. What will the full travel health package cost?
  11. Can the insurance by canceled because of a pre-existing illness?
  12. Will the insurance company pay the hospital/doctor directly?
  13. Does the insurer return you to Canada for major treatment?
  14. Is there a local agent in the county you are visiting?
  15. Do you have to phone the insurance company to gain approval prior to seeing a doctor?
  16. Does the policy contain a co-payment clause? If so, what is the percentage you will have to pay?
  17. Does the company offering the policy have a toll-free help line that you can call in an emergency?
  18. Are you required to see only pre-selected hospital or doctors for care. If so, obtain list before departure.
  19. Beware: if you have not fully disclosed a pre-existing illness and any medication used - as well as any change in your condition or medication before departure - your coverage may be void. (If you have a heart condition, you don't want a policy that has heart conditions as a pre-condition they won't cover.)
  20. Ask if a deductible applies as a fixed dollar amount or percentage, and if it is in US or Canadian dollars?
  21. Will you have to pay for treatment, and then on your return to Canada provide proof with receipts?
  22. If you are going to many countries, confirm with the insurer that coverage applies in all your destinations

Notice:- Fiscal Agents Financial Services Group are not engaged in rendering tax, accounting or legal professional services or advice. The comments in this Executive Notes are not intended, nor should they be relied upon, to replace specific professional advice. Before acting on material contained herein, readers should seek advice that is appropriate to their personal circumstances from a professional advisor.

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