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Understanding Travel Health Insurance

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This page provides information to Canadians about travel health insurance.

Having travel health insurance is important because many government-sponsored health plans do not cover healthcare expenses incurred in a foreign country. Employee-sponsored plans typically limit health insurance coverage in a foreign country to include emergency care only, while emergency medical evaluations are not usually covered. Individuals who are vacationing or travelling on business may have significant gaps in their coverage, which makes travel health insurance an attractive solution for many, at a relatively inexpensive cost ($2.00 to $5.00 per day).

Travel health insurance when flying is important.Why is Travel Health Insurance Critical?

Getting healthcare in a foreign country is often difficult and confusing. Some hospitals refuse to provide treatment, while others will treat a patient, but will not discharge them until they have received a guarantee of payment. Such guarantees are provided through travel health insurance plans.

• Insurance providers, other than travel insurers, do not typically provide guarantees of payment for medical costs incurred in a foreign country, which means that an individual without travel insurance will have to pay in advance for healthcare costs that, in some cases, can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

• In the event of serious illness or injury, it is sometimes necessary for an individual to leave their current destination to seek out higher quality care, or return to their home country where their insurance is accepted. Medical transfers/evacuations can be not only complicated to coordinate, but also expensive. The good news is that most travel insurance companies offer an assistance benefit that provides access to a company that will arrange a medical transfer/evacuation at any time of day or night and on any day of the year.

• The assistance benefit that comes with most travel insurance provides assistance to individuals who have encountered legal issues or lost their credit cards or passport.

Types of Travel Insurance Policies to Consider:

  • Health/Accident Insurance – This coverage pays for hospital bills and occasionally dental care and prescription drugs. These plans can be obtained for trips ranging from 1 day to 6 months, and are supplemental to other health insurance. Some travel insurance carriers offer coverage for trips of 6 months or longer.
  • Medical Evacuation – This coverage is important because emergency evacuations due to illness or injury can cost as much as $50,000 if you are in a remote location.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption – This coverage is beneficial as there are many reasons why an individual might have to cancel a trip, or cut it short and return home. The majority of the cost of a vacation that is cancelled or interrupted due to particular emergency situations will be covered under this option.
  • Flight Accident Insurance – This coverage pays a lump dollar amount in the extremely rare event of the death of an individual due to a plane crash. It is similar to a life insurance policy except that it will only pay if the covered individual is killed in a plane crash. This coverage can often be purchased at airports and is especially valuable to individuals that are married, have children and/or dependents.

Chances are that your trip will unfold without injury, illness or emergency situations, but should such incidents occur while travelling, you would have peace of mind in knowing that your travel health insurance will give you immediate access to necessary medical care and service.