With the cold weather upon us, many Canadians dream of escaping to the sunnier climates of the south. But remember, once you leave our chilly country you also leave our medical system, and that means you’ll need additional coverage.
The solution is simple: just buy a travel policy, right? Not quite. There are many nuances to navigating travel insurance. Here are three important things to consider, to help you avert unexpected and exorbitant medical fees.
What does the policy say?
This is a very important first step. You need to know exactly what your policy does and does not cover. Often, there are restrictions for certain high-risk activities such as bungee jumping or skiing. These can be covered under special policies with higher premiums.
Other restrictions on travel policies may include age, time of coverage, reimbursement limits and whether or not expenses are reimbursed upfront.
Another common restriction affects people playing an amateur sport. A special type of coverage is needed when you take your son or daughter across the border to play in the weekend hockey tournament.
How is your health?
When filling out the medical questionnaire about your health, be completely honest. Just because you have a health condition, it does not automatically mean you will be denied coverage. The insurance company uses this information to assess what premium to charge you. If you mislead the insurer and have a claim, they could deny it.
Most policies have restrictions about pre-existing conditions. Again, this doesn’t mean you will be denied coverage. You may have to demonstrate that there is a stability period, or be subjected to higher premiums. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your claim denied.
If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your insurance agent or even your medical professional.
When do you need travel insurance?
Essentially, you should consider having travel insurance in place every time you leave the province – even in Canada, because there are discrepancies in provincial health care that could leave you out of pocket. Also, if an air ambulance is needed to return you to your home province, this is not typically covered and can be very expensive.
Another place coverage is often ignored is on the short-term trip. It may just be a day trip of shopping across the border, but you are gambling with a health care bill that could be in the tens of thousands.
When travelling abroad, pay attention to travel warnings issued by the Canadian government as this may preclude you from coverage in certain regions across the world.
The bottom line is, don’t gamble with a huge health care bill. It’s better to pay a small amount up front for coverage that is properly rated for your health and travel circumstances, than to risk paying thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of dollars later.
Matthew Ardrey is a dedicated provider of creative and comprehensive solutions for high-net-worth private clients. Specializing in financial planning, tax planning and investment management, his proactive approach and big-picture thinking are signature to his style. A strategic thinker and clear communicator, Matthew is often sought by major media sources for his financial expertise.
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