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It's Your Money  

You need travel insurance

With the temperatures dropping and snow on the horizon, many Canadians are eyeing up vacation ideas to warmer destinations.

When planning a trip south, make sure to set up travel medical insurance.

Do you really need travel insurance every time you leave the country, even if you’re just crossing the border for a one night shopping trip to Seattle?

The answer is yes every time.

No matter how close to the border you are or how short your trip is, there is no circumstance that you should ever leave Canadian soil without adequate travel insurance, at least the part that covers medical issues. 

For most age groups, this coverage is quite cheap and if you’re only going on a short trip, you can purchase the coverage for just those couple of days.

For frequent travellers, a multi-trip annual plan might make more sense. 

Most already realize the importance of this coverage. A quick visit to the emergency room in the U.S. could cost you $10,000 and a major medical event can quickly run up a tab of $100,000 to $1 million or more. 

A few things to consider for this type of insurance coverage:

Plans are not all the same

When an uninsured medical emergency could destroy you financially, you don’t necessarily just want to take the cheapest plan and “hope” it’s good enough.

Make sure you compare the coverage details of different plans and not just the price. For those who assume your work benefit plan or credit card program provide adequate coverage, make sure you compare this to a privately held option to see if it offers the same protection and if not, buy a second plan to fill in the gaps. 

Coverage is very quick and easy to obtain

I ran a quick quote online for a 40 year old that’s planning a three-day trip to the U.S. and the total cost for the policy was $7.70.

With such a low cost, the only excuse for not setting this up is pure laziness. For those under age 60, purchasing a plan is as easy as going online for five minutes and answering a few simple questions. 

You must follow the rules

If you find yourself needing to visit the hospital while away, call the insurance company immediately.

The companies are very strict with this rule and they want to be brought in to the situation as soon as possible so that they can co-ordinate payment from the start.

Make sure to take the time to read the details of your plan and understand the exclusions and the coverage that you have. If you’re not sure how a plan works, take the time to ask questions and seek clarification. 

Seniors should seek help

Once you hit age 60 (or 65 depending on the company), travel insurance becomes more involved. For anyone in this age category, I suggest you seek the assistance of a trusted advisor to help assess what plan is right for you.

When filling out the application, it’s very important to list every possible pre-existing condition, medication and any other detail they ask about.

When it comes to claim time, the worst thing that can happen is that the insurer finds out about something that you did not disclose. If you’re honest and open up front about everything, the insurer will have no reason to deny your claim. 

Pregnant Women Beware

While many policies state that they cover pregnant women up to the 32 week mark, what they don’t tell you is that your unborn baby is not covered (or if they are, only for a very small dollar amount).

I wrote a separate article on this issue last year and am happy to forward a copy to anyone that wants more information.

Travel medical insurance is an absolute necessity for anyone venturing beyond our borders and based on the number of denied claims currently facing Canadians, it’s something that must be approached properly.

Feel free to contact me or go to our website for more information. Travel safe!             

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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and will take over as board chairman in June. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations for the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected].



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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