Pension Life - Winter 2023

Time to travel? 10 things to consider when buying medical travel insurance

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, more people are travelling.

Smiling couple travelling by ferry

Here are 10 things to consider about travel insurance.

1. Your government health plan coverage. Government health plans may not cover all emergency medical expenses outside your home province, and they typically cover only a limited portion of services and fees once you leave Canada. If you live in BC, find out what the BC Medical Services Plan covers when you’re travelling.

2. Types of travel insurance. Two distinct types of insurance coverage exist. The first is for emergency medical expenses only, and the second is comprehensive coverage including emergency medical expenses and other risks such as flight cancellation or baggage delay. Before buying comprehensive travel insurance, check if you’re already covered through a different provider such as your credit card company.

3. Medical evidence. Some insurance companies require you to complete a medical questionnaire before travelling. They may deny you coverage, or charge you a higher premium, if they determine you are at a high risk of illness. Other insurance companies may review your medical records for any pre-existing conditions should you make a claim for an incident not accidental in nature.

4. Direct or indirect pay. Ask your insurer who first pays your medical bill: the insurance company directly (first payor), or you, before being reimbursed (indirect pay or second payor).

5. Single or multiple trips. You can buy travel insurance for single or multiple trips. If you vacation several times a year or like to take advantage of last-minute travel deals, consider multiple trip plans.

6. Deductibles, limits, overall maximums. Most policies limit reimbursement of your claim. Deductibles, limits on reimbursements and overall maximums curb insurance companies’ risk. Travel insurance with a high deductible and low overall maximum may cost less but may not save you money in the long run. Check that you have adequate coverage.

7. Exclusions. Most travel insurance policies have exclusions for certain high-risk activities, such as rock climbing or parachuting, or exclusions depending on where you travel. Discuss your travel plans with your insurer.

8. Medical evacuation. Ask the insurance company if the policy covers medical evacuation to Canada (or to the nearest location with appropriate medical care) and the cost of a medical escort.

9. Repatriation in case of death. You may want to make sure you have coverage for preparing and returning your remains to Canada.

10. Emergency contact centre. In a medical emergency, finding the right care, including someone to help you navigate the local medical system or act as a translator, will offer you peace of mind. Confirm that your insurer has an in-house, worldwide, 24/7 emergency contact centre.

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Green Shield Canada provides retired plan members access to optional extended health care and dental coverage. For more information on your plan coverage or online services, please contact GSC directly at 1-888-711-1119.

External link for time to travel

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