Don’t assume Medicare or auto insurance covers everything
By Tammy Johnston
The weather is warming up and our world is starting to turn green once again. Trips to the lake, national parks, summer camps for our children, and just to get away from it all are on the minds and schedules of many people.
We make sure to pack our bathing suits, our golf clubs, some summer reading, sunscreen, and bug spray, but how many check to make sure you have proper travel insurance.
Just because you are staying in Canada does not mean your Alberta Health Care is sufficient if you get sick or hurt in another province. AHC pays a maximum of $100 a day for hospital care outside of Alberta and does not cover ambulance, air evacuation, medical appliance rental (crutches, etc), or to bring a family member to your aid. An unexpected illness or accident like a heart attack, a broken leg, or even something as simple as food poisoning or heat stroke, can cost more than you ever imagined.
Good travel insurance is very affordable and something you never want to be without. There are three main issuers of travel insurance and they are: Group insurance, credit cards, and stand alone travel insurance. Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating travel insurance:
1. Is the coverage pay direct or is it a reimbursement plan?
If it is a reimbursement plan you have to pay all bills out of your pocket and then submit receipts to be reimbursed.
2. Does the insurance company have to be notified before seeking medical treatment or within 24 hours of an incident or hospitalization in order for the insurance to be valid?
If you have been in a serious accident or suffered a major illness, contacting the insurance company immediately might slip your mind in the commotion. If that happens are you still covered?
3. How does the company treat pre-existing conditions?
If you have high blood pressure, does your travel insurance exclude you for anything that could happen that could be linked back to your high blood pressure or are you covered?
4. What is the coverage limit?
$1,000,000 is not a lot of money when dealing with major hospital bills, especially south of the border.
5. Does it cover you when doing “fun” activities such as scuba diving?
Does your coverage have an escape clause for them if you get hurt doing activities on vacation such as scuba diving or rock climbing.
6. Does it cover non-medical expenses such as travel and expenses for a family member to be with you if needed?
If your doctor advises you to have a family member with you during your stay or to travel back with you because of your injury or illness does your travel insurance pay for their travel and expenses as well as yours?
7. Does it cover all your family members, even if they aren’t traveling together?
If your children are visiting friends or relatives in another province or country without you are they covered?
8. Is this a single trip or multi-trip annual plan?
If you travel outside of Alberta on a regular basis, traveling for business or to visit to family, you might want to look into an annual policy.
9. What is the trip length you are covered for?
The longer you are on the road the greater the risk and therefore the greater the cost of the insurance. If you think you are already covered, check the travel time limits to make sure you are properly protected.
10. Are you covered for car accidents?
A lot of travel insurance provides no coverage whatsoever for car accidents and force you to use your Section B benefits on your auto policy.
The reason we have insurance is to make sure we are properly protected should something happen. It is important to KNOW in advance how our coverage really works, and not find all the nasty loopholes when it comes time to claim.
“I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.”