This article was originally published in the October 2019 edition of 55+ Magazine. Check out Part 1 here.
Accuracy and precision in completing the application for travel insurance is crucial.
Purchasing travel insurance can be a quick process. Many of us complete the application online through a series of clicks on our phone or computer. The policy is then confirmed, and no one verifies the accuracy of the information you included. The insurers take no steps to verify the information unless and until you make a claim under the policy. Once a claim is made, they will review the application and your prior medical history with a fine-tooth comb and if there is anything which they consider to be a misrepresentation or a failure to disclose, they will decline coverage.
Depending on the insurer, the coverage sought and your age, you may be required to answer a medical health questionnaire as a part of the application. You must be precise in providing your medical history and reporting any “pre-existing conditions.” The definitions vary, but generally, these are conditions known or diagnosed prior to your departure for your trip. Under some policies, they may not increase the cost (or otherwise complicate your application) if your condition has been medically stable for some time, but they must be disclosed.
It is crucial to be upfront and accurate in all representations made. To do this, you need to understand your medical history and overall health and to carefully read the entirety of any medical questionnaire; including the definition of various terms that may form part of the questionnaire. As an example, sometimes there are questions about prior treatment for various conditions. It is not your definition of what constitutes prior “treatment” that matters. It is what the policy defines “treatment” to include. It may be that a single test or investigation qualifies under the policy as prior “treatment.”
If you are not accurate and precise in providing your medical history, you may have the illusion of travel insurance, but when you need to claim under the policy, coverage may be denied. Under most policies, denials can occur even if the misrepresentation is unintended and even if it is unrelated to the actual injury or medical event you experience abroad.
Know the exclusions to your travel insurance.
Many travel policies will also include general exclusions. These are pre-determined circumstances in which there will be no coverage. The exclusions vary depending on the company and the policy. Examples include pregnancy or childbirth after the 31st week of pregnancy or injuries sustained from high risk activities. It is important to know and understand all of the exclusions in your policy.
Family and friends visiting Canada should have their own travel insurance.
Sometimes family or friends travel to Ontario to visit us. Many of us mistakenly assume that because Canada has universal healthcare, it applies to everyone. In fact, while non-residents injured in Canada will receive medical care if needed, it will generally be accompanied by a hefty medical bill. Not only will all services be charged for, the rates for medical services charged to non-residents are higher than for residents. So, if you have visitors travelling from abroad to stay with or visit you, encouraging them to have comprehensive medical coverage is also a good idea.
Obtaining travel insurance requires research, knowledge and precision. Despite the work involved, having tailored and comprehensive travel insurance provides peace of mind in the event of small disruptions in your travel and can be invaluable if you or a family member are seriously injured while abroad.