It’s just plain risky and foolhardy to go on a trip without travel insurance.  Travel health insurance is as essential as your suitcase and your airplane ticket.  The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) had KPMG conduct a national survey of Canadians about their travel habits and their understanding of provincial health coverage. Only 6% of Canadians realize that provincial health plans cover just approximately 9% of medical expenses when travelling outside of Canada.

But the costs can mount up if you have a medical emergency while abroad. The majority of Canadians (80%) believe the cost of treating pneumonia in the U.S. is $10,000 or less. In reality, the bill can run as high as $66,000, finds a BMO Insurance study.  Provincial health insurance plans will usually pay for a small portion of out-of-country medical costs, but will fall far short of the full cost. A broken leg in Florida could cost as much as $35,000 to mend, according to RBC, but many provincial plans will pay only $2,000. The most common reasons for seeking medical care include gastrointestinal issues (21.8%), infection (16.%) and fractures (10.7%). Sixty per cent of those who received medical attention while away had extended travel medical insurance to pay for the associated expenses.

Despite the “bad insurance company” stories that you hear, and we don’t deny that they do happen, the vast majority (95.3%) of Canadians who purchased individual travel health insurance policies had their claims paid, says the KPMG survey. However, another THIA survey finds 18% of Canadians have inadvertently provided inaccurate health information on travel health insurance forms — something that can void an insurance policy. And 14% have deliberately provided inaccurate health information on travel insurance applications, with half of those admitting they did so to receive a lower rate. We can’t stress enough the importance of full and accurate disclosure on the insurance application. Insurance companies have trained staff to help you understand the questions and provide accurate answers. If you purchase your insurance through us we will help you through the questionnaire and if there is any uncertainty, we will get the insurance company representative on the phone to make sure all is completed properly. A medical questionnaire needs to be taken seriously. The top two reasons for denied claims include medical non-disclosure and misrepresentation, and for pre-existing conditions that were not stable, as required by policies. For example, if you have high blood pressure and it is not “stable” or :controlled” as certified by a medical doctor then your travel insurance will not cover you for any problems or expenses associated with your high blood pressure.

Many of us will have some form of travel insurance with our employer. Make sure you take the time to understand the coverage. Read the booklet, see what the maximum of coverage is, determine the maximum time frame of the coverage. Don’t expect your plan at work to insure you for the full period if you are on a year long sabbatical trip.

Remember vacations aren’t always carefree—21% of Canadian travelers have needed medical attention while away. And 35% don’t buy travel health insurance before they go away. Contact us for your travel insurance needs.