Planning a trip is exciting. Deciding where to go what to see and do and where to stay can be a fun part of the trip-planning process. But one item that often gets left off the trip checklist is buying travel medical insurance. Neglect this however and you could end up stranded in a foreign country unable to get home for proper medical care or worse responsible for medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Travel medical insurance is just one part of travel insurance – coverage that can protect you from surprise medical bills the price of replacing lost luggage the expense of covering missed flights and the cost of replacing stolen belongings while you’re on vacation.
Travel Medical Insurance
While travel insurance is nice to have (especially if you pay and book in advance for your vacation) the emergency medical portion of this coverage is critical. This pays for emergency medical treatment while you’re abroad including transportation to a hospital or back home should you need to cut your trip short to receive treatment.
You must apply for this coverage before you leave on your trip and your pre-existing conditions may not be covered or you may have to pay an additional fee. You’ll also want to ensure you’re honest about your health and update your insurer about your current conditions and prescriptions. If you have a non-terminal pre-existing condition such as diabetes most insurance companies will cover you if your condition is stable and controlled for 90 days prior to the trip departure date. Just be sure you understand how your policy defines stability as some require no change in your medication and others require no recurring symptoms.vYou can find out more information here.
Trip Interruption and Trip Cancellation Insurance
In addition to travel medical coverage, you can also opt to purchase trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance. This will repay you for the cost of all booked accommodation transportation and activities in the event you are forced to cancel your trip or go home halfway through.
It’s important to note that not all scenarios are insured. Read your policy and talk to your broker about what situations will be covered and which will not. Most of the time a good general rule of thumb is if there was reasonable knowledge that you could have to cancel or interrupt your trip before or as you booked it you will not be covered. Insurance companies expect you to check the Canadian Government’s travel recommendation page – if you cancel or interrupt due to a reason that was listed when you booked you won’t be covered.
For example, you book a family vacation to Mexico. A week before the trip you lose your job. You should be able to use your trip cancellation. However, if a hurricane hit in November and you wanted to cancel or go home early you would likely not receive compensation as it was during hurricane season.
Lost Luggage and Delays
Travel insurance can also cover you in the event your luggage is lost or you experience transportation delays due to weather and other unforeseen events. Again make sure you understand which scenarios are covered by your policy.
How Much Travel Insurance Should You Buy
When buying travel insurance make sure you get enough coverage to cover all expenses. Typically policies with $2 million to $5 million of medical coverage are considered standards for travel insurance claim limits. While most of all emergency medical claims fall under the $1 million mark treatment for conditions such as burns or paralysis would prevent a patient from being safely transported back to Canada immediately. In such a scenario costs could exceed $1 million. For more serious medical emergencies opting for higher limits will better protect you against the increased medical costs—which is the sole purpose of travel medical insurance.
Your limits for trip cancellation trip interruption lost luggage and delays will depend on the cost of your trip. We recommend choosing an amount that will cover your entire trip – remember to factor in that last-minute prices for things like transportation and accommodation can be much higher than if you book in advance.
To get the right travel insurance policy coverage, talk to your independent insurance broker to ensure you have the right coverage at the right price.