We’ve all heard the horror stories of travelling without insurance where a medical expense wasn’t covered while out of country and someone got slapped with a very large bill. Thousands for an ambulance? Hundreds for an X-Ray? Tens of Thousands for a longer stay? These people vowed to never travel again, and so did people close to them.
But as we close up the cottages and put the boat away after another excellent summer and beautiful fall in Canada, travelling starts to become top of mind. The thick layer of frost I scraped off my windshield this morning and the red poppies being worn throughout the country are sure signs that we’re wading into another Canadian winter. We are finishing up our pumpkin spice latte craving and moving to peppermint mocha’s and chestnut praline lattes. Very charming of course, but a margarita on the beach might just do the trick by the time January hits us.
- Review and Understand your travel insurance
BEFORE you leave for your trip is the opportunity you have to review and understand your travel insurance. By doing it before hand, you can make changes if you need to, or purchase more. You want to review that you have adequate emergency medical coverage which should be a minimum of $1,000,000. Review the pre-existing clauses; for those under 65, many insurance companies will cover your pre-existing conditions if there is a period of at least 6 months of stability. Travel Insurance is for emergencies and unforeseen medical expenses, it is NOT a Medicare program. Make sure you know how long you are covered, for the “Snow Birds” make sure you have a plan that covers your entire trip.
- Write your policy numbers down
There are two things that are important on your travel insurance card: the Policy Number, and the toll-free phone number. Write them down all over the place. Write them on your itinerary, in your wallet, in your rental car, everywhere! This is not something you want to lose, and you want it to be accessible if you are rendered unconscious and can’t provide that information. Remember when claiming to call the number first before being admitted to hospital, the insurance company will handle the billing and negotiations for you.
- Think about the added benefits
Do not assume that all Travel Insurance Policies come with baggage protection. Are you concerned about this protection? Make sure you review to find out if it is covered. If not, it can be available through a top-up plan. Other added benefits include: cancelation, repatriation (bringing your body back), emergency return (if a family member dies back home), travel assistance, etc. Be sure to ask your broker what is available.
- Use an Insurance Broker
Most Life Insurance Brokers can sell travel insurance. A true broker can sell several plans rather than just one. You may not be getting the best deal by simply buying the extra insurance at the travel agent.
By preparing your travel insurance, you will rid the horror stories of not having the proper coverage. We hope to never use Travel Insurance, but if needed we’ll be glad we have it.
Jeff Scammell is a Financial Advisor and Insurance Agent for JDS Financial Planning Inc. in St. George, New Brunswick. He can be reached at [email protected]