Imagine you’re on vacation in the Caribbean. The sun is warm, the water that surrounds you is a vibrant blue and the landscape is lush: You’re in a picture-perfect paradise. But suddenly, you begin to feel ill. When you can’t shake it off, you decide to go to the local doctor, who treats you and assures you that you’ll feel better soon. But then you feel worse, because as you leave the office, you get a hefty medical bill.
Nobody wants to pay for added expenses after splurging on a vacation, but a trip to the hospital overseas could leave you on the hook for a medical bill in the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Each year, there are countless headlines about Canadians who’ve run up exorbitant medical bills while on vacation without travel insurance. Even a quick jaunt across the border to shop or catch a ballgame carries the risk of a crippling expense – and while your provincial health insurance may reimburse you for a small portion of the cost, your coverage is capped at the provincial fee limits for the treatment you received, if that treatment is covered at all.
So why are so few of us insuring ourselves when we travel? Insurance terms can seem complicated, but a good insurance provider will clarify what the jargon means and make getting insured a smooth process.
How to pick a good travel insurance provider
Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association, says there are 4 “golden rules” to follow to ensure you’re getting proper coverage from your travel insurance provider:
- Know your health. While some policies include coverage for lost luggage and trip cancellation for various reasons, at its heart, travel insurance is health insurance. Make a note of any conditions you have and medications you are on before applying for travel insurance. That way, you can make sure the policy you buy covers your particular situation.
- Know your policy. Ask the travel insurance company or the insurance broker all the questions you can think of before purchasing your policy. For example, ask which services or medical devices are covered by the policy, and how claims are paid.
- Know your trip. Think about what you’re going to be doing on your trip. If you are planning any high-risk activities such as bungee jumping, ziplining or extreme snowboarding, make sure your travel insurance policy covers them. “Policies differ in terms of the activities they will cover,” says McAleer. “So don’t just assume you’re covered.”
- Know your rights. In June 2017, Canada’s Travel Health Insurance Association launched a bill of rights and responsibilities for consumers. This is a great resource that lets you know what you have a right to, such as access to toll-free support, a free minimum 10-day review of your policy and prompt and fair claims handling.
By Joy Blenman
See full story at www.sunlife.ca