When most people plan for their next vacation abroad, they tend to think about what they will buy, the sights they’ll see and the great foods they will eat.
Many don’t think about one important aspect – travel insurance.
How important is travel insurance?
CBC recently reported that the travel insurance claims of 3 separate people were denied because they answered the health questions incorrectly when obtaining the insurance. One lady’s claim of $16,500 was denied because the bank claims she ‘misrepresented’ her past medical history. Others have had claims over $100,000 for medical expenses in a foreign country denied and have been stuck paying them out of pocket.
What’s even worse is that most provincial plans cover only a fraction of the bill.
Despite this, a BMO poll last year showed that less than 40% of Canadians obtain travel insurance.
Here’s what the experts recommend on how to make sure you’re covered before travelling.
Review Your Medical History
Before even sitting down to fill out an application for travel insurance, it’s important to know your own medical history.
Insurers are great at finding ways out of denying a claim based entirely on someone’s previous medical history. It’s essential to be as upfront as possible regarding any previous medical issues when filling out the application. If you think it might even be remotely important in terms of a possible medical claim, it’s always a good idea to mention it.
While it might be entirely unfair, the insurer uses this information to get out of paying a possible insurance claim.
The experts say full disclosure is best when it comes to medical history and when in doubt – ask questions of the insurer to make sure you clearly understand the questions being asked.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance for All Trips (Big and Small)
Many people don’t bother getting travel insurance because they don’t take long trips often and they believe it isn’t necessary for small (day) trips.
This is a big mistake, according to experts.
Travel insurance should be at least considered for all trips out of the country, no matter how small they are.
If someone makes a day trip to the United States but becomes sick enough that they aren’t about to make it back home, there is the possibility they could have an extended stay in an American hospital. This could lead to thousands in medical bills – all because of a trip that was supposed to last no more than 2 days.
The easiest way to cover all smaller trips is to buy an annual travel insurance package – this way you won’t have to go through the process of getting coverage for every single small trip.
Review the Policy
This goes without saying, but it’s essential that the entire policy is reviewed before any travelling is done.
The policy itself is usually huge and contains lots of legal jargon, so if there is something you don’t understand make sure you ask specific questions.
When we buy travel insurance, I always make sure I print out the entire policy and make a note of any wording I don’t understand. There are usually at least 5 items I need clarification on, and I’ll ask my insurer about these before I buy the policy to make sure I will be covered.
Consider Your Trip’s Activities
In my experience I have found that specific activities deemed as high risk will not be covered with travel insurance – and this is usually stated in the fine print.
If you’re planning on sky diving, bungee jumping, swimming with sharks or scuba diving while abroad, it’s always a good idea to ask your insurer specifically about these activities to get clarification.
When you call to ask, the call itself is usually recorded so make sure you write down the details of the call for your own records – who you spoke to, what they said and what was clarified.
Personally, I just don’t understand some of the wording on travel insurance policies, so I have met with my doctor to review the policy and make sure I am answering questions correctly.
I also obtain annual coverage so I don’t have to go through the hassle of getting coverage for every small trip I take in the year.
I don’t normally do any ‘high risk’ activities while travelling but if I did, I’d make sure it was covered before I left the country.
Conclusion: the possibility of getting sick while travelling (without insurance) can be scary. Travel insurance is important to protect yourself in case you fall ill while travelling. Meet with your doctor to go over your entire medical history, obtain travel insurance even for small trips and always review the policy
Do you buy travel insurance? What tips do you have for travel insurance?