What is it, exactly? Why is it so important? And what can happen if you travel without coverage? These are all important questions that both occasional and avid Canadian travelers need to know the answers to, because the risks of traveling without appropriate travel insurance can be significant.
What Is Travel Insurance?
When you take a trip outside of the Canada you are responsible for all costs incurred on the trip. That includes medical costs in case of emergency, accident or illness and loss of baggage. If your trip is cancelled beforehand or you must cut it short while you’re away, all payments that you have made are essentially gone. By purchasing Canadian travel insurance you are ensuring that those unexpected and possibly crippling costs will be covered.
Why Is Travel Insurance Important?
Traveling can be like driving a car. You can make all of the right turns and practice safe, defensive driving techniques, but there are plenty of others on the road, and their actions and decisions are out of your control. Things like snow, ice and other environmental circumstances could also cause an accident.
When traveling, you also practice safety and street smarts. You pack well and try to plan for all eventualities. But there are factors beyond your control that may affect you during the trip, and the consequences of being unprepared for those type of happenings can be extremely damaging. You wouldn’t drive your car without car insurance, so why travel without proper coverage?
What Are the Different Elements of Travel Insurance?
You might hear the term travel health insurance or travel medical insurance. You also may have considered trip cancellation or baggage insurance. These are all elements of a good travel insurance package.
A comprehensive travel insurance package should include:
• Out of country emergency medical coverage
• Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption
• Loss/Theft of Baggage and Valuables
• 24-hour Access to a Representative – this allows you to get the proper medical help when you need it and can eliminate communication difficulties
Will You Need All Types of Coverage Every Time?
Often people have travel health insurance through their group benefits at work, through their bank account or with a major credit card holder (if the trip was paid for on that credit card). It is worth your time to take a thorough look at any coverage you currently have. Write down exactly what is covered and in which circumstances. Find out if each family member is included and whether there are any exemptions or limitations.
If you see discrepancies or don’t feel that your current coverage is enough, shop for additional coverage that will compliment what you already have. For example, you can purchase a trip cancellation policy on its own, allowing you to count on the medical insurance your employer offers and still feel comfortable about the money you’ve invested in your trip.
What Do You Need to Ask For When Buying Travel Insurance?
There are a few essential questions that will ensure your insurance purchase is a wise choice. Here is a summary of the answers you should expect to your questions about travel insurance coverage.
Always ask about exclusions, or those circumstances and instances that are not included in the policy. For cancellation coverage, your ticket may not be covered if a family member gets sick. Or only certain portions of the amount you prepaid may be covered (your airline ticket is included for instance, but not the hotel or charter that is booked at your destination).
Ask about pre-existing conditions too. If you have a chronic illness or have been diagnosed in the past, you may need written disclosure from your doctor beforehand to establish your state of health. This applies to both cancellation and travel health insurance. Get details and provide the insurance company with all of the relevant documents before you leave on the trip.
Find out what the deductible will be. This is the amount you will be responsible to pay no matter what happens. For example, if your policy has a $250 deductible, you must pay the first $250 (or any amount up to that figure) in medical bills. A higher deductible generally means a lower rate for your policy, so take this amount into consideration when comparing quotes.
If your trip involves the possibility of risky or dangerous sports or activities (mountain climbing or scuba diving for example), you will need to ask whether the policy will cover you in those instances. The insurance company may raise the rate or refuse to cover you because of the risk levels, but it’s important to disclose that information ahead of time.
Find out what type of baggage information the insurance company will from you before you go. Inform them in detail about any expensive equipment you may be taking (cameras, golf clubs, etc.).
Remember to gather as much information about Canadian travel insurance as you can and disclose as much as you know about your trip. With open communication and accurate comparisons, you can be sure that you’re getting the best insurance policy.
What Can Happen If You Travel Without Coverage?
To once again compare traveling to driving a vehicle, there are many days when your trip in the car is uneventful. But your auto insurance is always actively protecting you and the other drivers around you. The same thing applies to travel insurance. If you don’t have coverage, any accidents, emergencies, losses and cancellation costs will come out of your pocket. With a good travel insurance policy you are protected at all times from the moment your trip is booked, to the moment you return home.