Getting the Most out of Travel Insurance

Before you get on a plane, get in your car, or board a ship, you should make sure that you have insurance coverage for both medical and trip cancellation. Both coverages will protect you from unwanted expenses from out-of-country medical bills or expenses that may arise if you have to cancel your trip. When weighted against the cost of a vacation or potential medical bills, both travel medical and travel cancellation insurance are not that expensive. You should even consider purchasing insurance if you are traveling out of your home province.

It is important to keep in mind that travel medical insurance and trip cancellation insurance are not the same thing. While some insurers roll them into one package, they are separate coverages. If you have just purchased travel medical, you may not have trip cancellation, and the same is true the other way around. Here are some tips to getting the most out of both travel medical and trip cancellation insurance.

Travel Medical Insurance – Fill Out Your Application Accurately

Injuries can and do happen on vacations. Trip medical insurance is vital for any trip outside of Canada. Once every few months, you see a story in the media about Canadians not being paid out on claims made on their travel medical insurance. In most cases, this is due to forms not being filled out correctly and pre-existing conditions not being disclosed. It is up to you to make absolutely sure that any medical information on the application is accurate.

Whatever you do, don’t fill out your application for travel medical insurance at the last minute or in a rush – you’ll be more likely to make an error that could cost you if you actually need to make a claim. Start looking for travel medical insurance as soon as you book your trip so that you’ll have time to clear up questions with your medical team before you leave.

While filling out the application, make sure to read the policy wording and any instructions for filling out the application. Some policies require no changes in medication for a certain number of days prior to your trip, typically 60-90 days; but check the exact wording. If your doctor requires a test after you get back from your vacation, that is a potential pre-existing condition and must be noted on the form. You also must disclose if you are pregnant; an insurer considers this to be a medical condition. Make sure to list all medications, even if you just take them once in a while. If you are unsure about anything at all on the application, call your broker and ask.

According to the Travel Insurance Health Association, insurers won’t cover specific conditions or symptoms that have, within a certain time frame prior to your vacation:

  • Deteriorated or increased in frequency
  • Been treated by a medical professional
  • Required a change in type of medication or dosage
  • Been recommended for further consultations or tests

For example, if you go to a doctor for asthma and he increases the dose of your medication within the amount of time specified by the insurer before your departure, you may not be covered for asthma or other lung conditions. Bottom line, make sure you are practicing full disclosure when filling out your application.

For more on travel medical insurance, download this brochure from the Travel Insurance Health Association.

Travel medical insurance saves lives and gets people medical treatment they need every day. Unfortunately, you don’t hear about the good news stories in the media because those don’t get clicks on websites or sell papers. A local North Bay woman was medically evacuated from an African country to Europe for lifesaving medical treatment – she would have had to pay those bills on her own if she was one of the nearly half of Canadians who don’t buy travel insurance.

Travel Cancellation Insurance

It can be better for you to purchase travel cancellation insurance from your broker than through the company selling you your vacation, depending of course on the company and the offered coverage. A policy sold through a vacation provider can be more restrictive than one you would purchase from a third party for around the same price. It may not, for example, include trip interruption, which provides for expenses if you have to cut your vacation short. They may also not cover costs not associated directly with the purchased vacation package, such as baggage loss or a flight accident.

As with any insurance product, your insurance broker is your own personal shopper for any kind of travel insurance. Tell them what matters to you, and they will find you the right coverage. They’ll always put your interests first rather than selling you a package.

Contact Kennedy Insurance Brokers if you’re planning a vacation to make sure you have the coverage you need for your trip.