TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 21, 2012) - With more than half (52 per cent)* of Canadians intending to take a vacation outside the country this winter, it's important for travellers to be aware that provincial health insurance pays only a small portion of out-of-country medical expenses.
"It's necessary to have private travel insurance to be fully protected against unexpected medical emergencies encountered during foreign or inter-provincial travel," says Martha Turnbull, past president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA).
A registered nurse, as well as a travel insurance professional, Ms. Turnbull cautions travellers that although travel insurance plans have generous benefits, they have exclusions and limitations, and it's especially important to know the state of one's own health when buying insurance.
Ms. Turnbull suggests the following guidelines for travellers assessing and buying travel insurance.
Know your own health
Know what conditions your doctor is treating you for, what medications you have been prescribed, if and when changes have been made to your medications (your pharmacist can help).
Ask for the results of any investigations, tests, specialists' findings or why you are being referred to a specialist.
If you have any unanswered questions about your health, ask your doctor to review your medical records with you.
Understand your insurance travel medical insurance policy:
Since every insurer has different approaches to covering pre-existing conditions, it's critical to read and understand the benefits, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and especially pre-existing conditions.
Understand key definitions such as: stable, controlled, treatment, emergency.
Understand the definition of pre-existing condition because policies vary among insurers. Some policies may cover pre-existing conditions that are considered stable and controlled for a specific period (such as 90 days) prior to departure or booking date (which applies to trip cancellation & trip interruption coverage). Some may not cover any pre-existing or related condition, so understand how this applies to you.
When completing the travel insurance policy medical questionnaire, take your time. Read it well. If you have any questions, contact the issuing insurance company for clarification and don't hesitate to ask your doctor for help or for access to your medical records.
DO NOT minimize your health status to get a lower premium. Inaccurate or incomplete answers could invalidate your claim and leave you stuck with the bill.
When insuring travel arrangements for trip cancellation or interruption benefits:
Book your travel insurance as soon as you place a deposit on your trip and try to purchase your travel using a major credit card. If the travel supplier goes out of business or suspends operations, you may be able to recover some of your costs through the credit card company. Travel insurers do not cover financial solvency of airlines, cruise lines or other travel suppliers.
If there is a change in your health or medication, or if you are referred for tests or to a specialist, contact your insurance company to determine if this could result in any changes to your coverage.
If you're awaiting test results, a referral to a specialist, or a decision on surgery, but want to book travel, consider it very carefully - it may be better to delay your travel until after you are stable and have recovered.
Adds Ms. Turnbull: "Travel insurance plans are offered by many different insurance companies in Canada and as such there are many coverage, price and benefit options available. "To make the best choice, you need to be informed and understand your insurance.
About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is http://www.thiaonline.com/.