It’s vacation time, and my husband and I decided this was finally going to be the year we went to Mexico. Our daughter was thrilled, and I tracked down a great deal on an all-inclusive resort for a 10-day stay.
Even though we’re only going to be away for a short while, I decided it would be a good idea to look into travel insurance. I found out a lot of things I didn’t know, and I encourage everyone who’s headed out of province on a vacation this summer to do their research. These are some of the most surprising facts I discovered.
Standard Travel Health Policies Are Designed for Emergencies Only…
Looking at the wording of most standard travel insurance policies, the terms “unforeseen” and “unexpected” come up again and again. I later learned there’s a good reason why: standard travel health insurance policies are not the same as full medical plans. They don’t provide protection for unstable, pre-existing health conditions. In other words, if I have a heart condition and I don’t tell my insurer, then I go to Mexico and have a heart attack, my medical bills won’t be covered.
People with pre-existing medical conditions need to disclose their health status to the insurer before buying a policy. A lot of people don’t do this, and I get it. People figure if they tell the truth, their premiums are going to rise. But there’s no point buying coverage that won’t help in a worst-case scenario.
…But They Can Cover More Than Just Health Expenses
Most plans offer opt-ins that can cover you for more than just unexpected health issues and emergency medical expenses. The policies I research offered protection for a surprisingly long list of other perils, including:
- Lost luggage
- Flight cancellations and delays
- Replacement costs of lost identification documents, like passports and driver’s licenses
These expenses can really add up, and I’d rather be prepared for the worst instead of hoping for the best.
You Might Need Coverage Even If You’re Staying in Canada
Another common misconception is that people who aren’t leaving Canada for their vacation don’t need supplemental travel insurance. This may not be the case, since provincial coverage might not extend to other provinces and territories in certain situations.
The same is true for travel insurance offered by credit card companies, which usually comes with limitations and exclusions that provide actual coverage for only a narrow range of emergency situations. The lesson here: never assume you’re fully protected by pre-existing plans. Always check, and be sure to address any coverage gaps before you leave.
Travel Insurance for Pets
We’re planning to take our dog to Mexico with us, and of course, I wanted to find out whether or not we need to protect our pet too. I’m glad I looked into it, since it turns we’d be paying out of pocket for a vet if anything happened to our dog.
With travel insurance for pets, ask the insurance provider these three questions:
- Does the policy cover hereditary or pre-existing conditions?
- What time limits are in place?
- What is the maximum financial amount covered by the policy?
Many airlines also require documentation that proves a pet is healthy enough for air travel prior. I didn’t know this, and it’s a good thing I checked, since we would have been in for an unwelcome surprise at the airport if we showed up without that certification. A few minutes at the vet’s office saved us a major headache.
Be Proactive About Staying Healthy
I also read about the most common reasons people seek medical treatment while they’re on vacation. The majority of incidents are related to:
- Car accidents (often caused by driving too fast on unfamiliar roads)
- Excess alcohol consumption (leading to drunken accidents)
- Food poisoning (related to drinking contaminated tap water or eating undercooked or improperly prepared food)
It’s important to be as careful as possible when on a trip, since willful negligence can be the basis for a claim rejection. To avoid food poisoning and related illnesses, stick with bottled water if you’re not sure whether the tap water is safe, and don’t add ice cubes to your drinks. With food, be especially careful with street vendors, and if you’re in any doubt, don’t eat it.
In the end, we decided to buy our travel insurance through InsureMy. This progressive insurance company offers affordable plans to residents of both Alberta and Ontario, and I’ve always been pleased with their low rates and great service.