Do I need to buy travel insurance if I'm covered under a health plan?
Travel insurance is different than extended health insurance. While many extended health insurance plans include some coverage for travel, it is often a small amount. If you get sick or injured while outside of Canada, medical costs can add up quickly - especially if you are hospitalized. Because of this, we recommend that you purchase insurance specific for travelling, even if you have some coverage under another plan. This will ensure that you have enough coverage for an emergency. Travel insurance policies can also include benefits or features that are not provided by group health insurance plans; these include non-medical benefits and 24/7 claims and emergency assistance.
Is it true that I need travel insurance if I travel within Canada, but outside of my home province?
You are not required to purchase additional insurance while travelling outside of your home province (but within Canada); however, it is strongly advised to get yourself some anyway. While your provincial health insurance will remain in effect outside of your province of residence, it is limited to expenses which would be covered in your home province. Because of the potential discrepancies in health care coverage from province to province, we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Plans for travel within Canada are available at very reasonable rates.
Is travel insurance similar to car insurance? Is it more expensive for young people?
While age is one of the determining factors for travel insurance, it is different than car insurance in that prices are lowest for young, healthy individuals.
What if I get sick in a country where I don't speak the language? How can I communicate with doctors or contact my family back home?
Certain plans that we offer include coverage for interpretation services. These plans will connect you with a foreign language interpreter when communication is necessary for emergency services. We also offer plans that help you communicate with your travelling companion(s) and even relay important messages to your family at home, in the event of a medical emergency.
If I get sick and need medical treatment, would I have to pay out of pocket?
Whenever possible, the insurance companies will try to coordinate direct payment with the hospital so that you do not have to pay out of pocket. It is important that you contact your insurer's Claims and Emergency Assistance department if you are in need of medical attention. This department will help you get the medical attention you need while attempting to coordinate payment at the facility where you are being treated. However, be aware that some medical facilities may insist on payment up front.
If your policy has a deductible, this means that you will be responsible for a portion of the medical expenses incurred. This deductible is a dollar amount that you must pay before coverage kicks in. Deductibles vary from policy to policy, and can be applied on a per-claim or per-trip basis.
What happens if I get sick in a remote area, far away from the nearest hospital?
Travel insurance plans typically include emergency transportation by land and/or air, as well as remote evacuation to the nearest appropriate hospital or medical facility. It is usually necessary to have air ambulance and remote evacuation benefits arranged and pre-approved by your insurance company; so check with your insurer before you leave for your trip. In the case of an emergency in a remote area, make sure to have a way of contacting your insurance company.
What happens if I leave the country before my wallet card arrives in the mail?
When you purchase a plan, you will receive all of your pertinent policy information via email. Confirmation documents, which include your policy number and the claims/emergency assistance phone number, can be printed from your confirmation email, and carried with you as proof of coverage while travelling.
What is an "emergency"? Will I be covered if I get a cold?
While all policies define "emergency" differently, in general, an emergency refers to a sudden, unexpected, and unforeseen sickness or injury which requires immediate medical treatment. A cold (or other illness) will only be covered if it falls under your policy's definition of an emergency. It is important that you read your policy wording carefully to make sure that you understand its benefits and exclusions.
I am currently taking medication; will I be covered if my existing condition gets worse while I'm away?
Some policies offer coverage for emergency medical expenses related to stable pre-existing medical conditions; however, refills for prescriptions and other routine expenses will not be covered, as these would not be considered emergencies. It's always a good idea to check the limitations and exclusions in your policy wording if you are concerned about what is and isn't covered for pre-existing medical conditions.
Will I be covered if I have an accident after a few drinks?
Travel insurance policies typically exclude expenses pertaining to alcohol or drug use. In most cases, if you are involved in an accident which is directly or indirectly related to alcohol or drug use, you would not be covered. If the accident was totally unrelated to your drinking, this should not affect your coverage. Make sure that you read your policy wording carefully to ensure that you are familiar with the terms and exclusions.
Are there any travel insurance plans that will cover expenses associated with my pre-existing medical conditions?
Most plans exclude medical expenses associated with a pre-existing condition that does not meet a *stability requirement for a set period of time before your departure date. Generally speaking, the more serious an applicant’s medical condition, the longer the stability period. It is also important to remember that each insurance policy will have its own unique definition of “stable.” Just because you or your doctor consider your medical condition to be stable doesn’t mean that your insurer will. In most policies, the definition of “stable” often means there have been no changes in treatment, diagnosis, medication, or symptoms for a given period of time. The definition may also mention that you cannot be on a waiting list and/or waiting for test results.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that has been stable for less than six months, you may need to consider a plan which involves a more extensive application process, such as the SRMRM travel health plan. This plan features a very detailed medical questionnaire and informs applicants about which medical conditions will and won’t be covered.
* See policy for stability requirements
I am planning several trips throughout the year. Do I have to purchase a separate plan for each trip?
If you are planning a minimum of two to three trips over the next year, it is likely that a multi-trip annual plan will be more cost effective than separate single-trip plans. A multi-trip annual plan covers you for an unlimited number of trips over the course of a year, with a limit on the number of days you can be away for any one trip. Plans such as ETFS Medi-Select Advantage offer a variety of options when it comes to the numbers of days of coverage per trip, ranging from 9 days to 60 days. If you go on a trip that exceeds the number of days of coverage on your annual plan, you have the option of purchasing a top-up for the extra days.
I already have travel medical insurance through my group benefits plan. What additional types of travel insurance should I consider?
First, verify what is covered under your group benefits plan, keeping in mind the following:
•Overall Limit: Most stand-alone travel medical plans offer coverage that ranges from $2 million to $5 million. With a group benefits plan, coverage can be as low as $100,000. In the event of a major emergency while away from home, this amount may not be sufficient.
•Emergency Assistance: Group benefits plans may not include a phone number to call for assistance in the event of an emergency. Emergency assistance services connect you with the services you need, monitor your care, notify your relatives, arrange for your early return home or medical transportation, and much more.
•Upfront Payment: Group benefits plans often require that you pay your medical bills up front. You are then expected to submit all original receipts for reimbursement at a later date.
•Number of Days: Your group benefits plan may only cover you for a set number of days out of the country.
If your group benefits plan does not provide sufficient coverage, you can purchase supplemental travel medical coverage to fill in the gaps.
Will I be covered for medical expenses due to sport-related injuries while travelling?
Most conventional travel medical insurance plans can cover expenses associated with low-risk amateur sports. However, all plans have exclusions for expenses related to more dangerous sports, such as car or motorcycle racing, horse racing, rodeo activities, etc. Make sure to check your policy wording to find out which sports aren’t covered. Conventional travel medical plans will also not cover expenses related to professional sports. If you will be participating in high-risk or professional sports, a specialized travel insurance plan may be able to provide you with the coverage you need. It is also a good idea to check if your team or league will be providing sports coverage.