Travel insurance in simplified terms is insurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, financial and other losses incurred while travelling in Canada and abroad.
Young people usually have a feeling of ‘invincibility,’ yet as we grow older we learn about unfortunate travel mishaps that either we personally experience or hear about from friends. There are basically three general types of travel coverage: medical, coverage for emergency medical care while travelling; trip cancellation, usually coverage for the cancellation of your trip before departure, for specific outlined reasons; and trip interruption, coverage for specified reasons once you’re on your trip.
In addition to the above there can be coverage for delayed or stolen baggage, personal effects, flight accident, car rental collision and/or robbery.
Why do some individuals decide against travel insurance? Here are some common excuses and myths: I feel healthy and do not need any insurance; my government health insurance plan will cover me; it is not worth the expense; never had it, never required it; I am covered by my credit card.
There are a number of ways that you can achieve complete or partial coverage and peace of mind.
Work: Often your place of employment will have a benefit plan that covers one or more types of insurance whether it be medical, trip cancellation or trip interruption.
Private: There are a number of insurance companies that specialize in travel insurance.
Travel/tour company: Nearly all travel/tour companies offer some type of travel insurance. Travel agencies offer complete coverage.
Credit cards: Increasingly we see some of the benefits a specific credit card can provide, including travel insurance.
You might ask are there any exclusions? Yes there are, including a few that will invalidate your travel insurance. The common exclusions are: injury or illness caused by drug or alcohol intake; pre-existing medical condition; sometimes war or terrorism.
Travel insurance plans can be as short as a day or purchased on an annual basis giving 365 days of coverage. With the annual coverage the number of trips is usually unlimited.
When you are looking for travel insurance there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration (efficient settlement of claims within seven to 10 days; upfront payment of covered expenses; co-ordination of payments with your government health insurance and any credit cards; someone who will give you a positive, caring experience; efficient delivery of messages to your family, physician, employer or anyone you wish in the case of an emergency; 24/7 toll-free helpline with access to emergency assistance.)
Lastly, what are the factors that determine the price of travel insurance? There are basically four factors: age, time away, cost of trip, and in some cases, your medical history. It is better to have it and not need it rather than not have it and need it.
Join me next time when I will discuss some unfortunate travel insurance situations.
Bill MacDonald is a St. Albert-based travel consultant. He can be reached at [email protected]