As you prepare to head south on your winter getaway, travel experts want you to remember to check your insurance coverage.
Your provincial health care plan only provides limited coverage for emergency medical costs outside of Canada, and even within Canada you may face costs that are only partially covered or not at all.
You may already have travel medical insurance as part of your benefits package at work. Some credit cards also offer emergency medical and other coverage if you use them to pay for your tickets.
But you need to understand what you already have and where gaps in coverage may be before heading off on a holiday. You should know your coverage limitations -- what's covered and what may not be covered, including your spouse and children.
If you have coverage, make sure you know the coverage period -- some credit cards only cover you for trips up to 15 days and contain a long pre-existing condition clause. Some may also cap coverage at low levels, leaving you exposed to catastrophic financial risk should you need an emergency medical treatment while you are away.
Some people think of travel medical insurance as just an added expense or luxury. But not having it can end up costing you even more. Even small, unexpected medical emergencies away from home can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills. Here are a few examples that will hopefully make you think twice about not buying travel insurance.
According to BCAA and its travel medical insurance underwriters – respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis are the most common medical claims.
The average cost you’d have to pay out of pocket if you left home with no insurance is more than $2,700 for treatment for these types of ailments.
Stomach problems are also common. Illnesses such as food poisoning, ulcers or gallstones can run you up to $2,100 in medical care.
Even just a skin, blood or ear infection can cost close to $700.
Heart attacks a whopping $17,000 if you don’t have insurance. And that’s just the average. Claims can reach as high as $300,000 for something like a quadruple bypass.
When acquiring travel medical insurance, ensure you are covered properly by checking if your insurance allows access to a network or health providers, including top tier hospitals.
Incidental expenses such as phone charges or renting wheel chairs or crutches need to be covered. As does transportation back to Canada or transportation for someone to be at your bedside. It’s really not something most of us want to think about when we’re heading out on vacation, but it's simply a case of better safe than sorry.
In short, if you're planning a vacation this winter, it's wise to investigate and secure travel medical insurance for Canadians.
Olympia Benefits provides complimentary travel medical insurance for incorporated family businesses when they sign up for a Health Spending Account. This premium travel medical insurance features coverage for continuous travel up to 45 days and $2 million per family member. Read more about this policy here.
If you own a family business or are an incorporated professional, download Olympia's Beginner's Guide to Health Spending Accounts.