This article was originally published in the October 2019 edition of 55+ Magazine.
Whether you are a snowbird travelling down south for the winter, crossing the border to shop, hopping the pond to spend a week in Europe or making the long flight to Asia or Australia, obtaining appropriate travel insurance should be a key component of your travel planning.
Unfortunately, when we are in the midst of organizing a trip, taking the time to make sure that we have sufficient travel insurance can feel optional, unnecessary and is far less exciting than booking that wine tour or bicycle excursion.
Having worked in a legal capacity with individuals injured abroad or with tourists injured in Ontario, I have observed how valuable comprehensive travel insurance is. This is particularly the case for travel medical insurance, in the event that you or a family member are seriously injured while away from home.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when purchasing travel insurance:
Some credit cards provide travel insurance, but how much? For what? In what circumstances?
As a first step, it is important to determine the scope of any travel insurance provided by your credit card(s). It varies considerably. Depending on the credit card, they may provide for some, or all, of the following: car rental insurance, luggage insurance, trip cancellation /interruption insurance, repatriation, medical evacuation, travel medical insurance and/or travel accident insurance.
The second step is to investigate when your credit card will provide coverage. For example, some cards put a limit on how long the trip can be. If you are away more consecutive days in a row than the policy allows, you will not be covered if something happens. Similarly, for some cards, coverage is only provided if the majority of the trip expenses were purchased with that card. For other cards, you only need to have purchased the airfare or transportation with your card to trigger the travel insurance offered. It is crucial to know and understand these limitations in advance and prior to departure.
Do you have coverage through your employment? Some people may have travel insurance through group benefits provided by their employer. It is important to understand fully what is provided, the limits of the coverage, whether it applies to family members travelling with you and to understand if further coverage is needed.
Purchasing additional travel insurance.
Often it will be the case that additional travel insurance is required. Two key categories to keep in mind are:
Travel medical coverage — covers the cost of medical costs incurred abroad. Hospitalization alone can be thousands of dollars per day, plus the cost of any medical investigation, tests or treatment. While $25,000 or $100,000 sounds like a lot of coverage, for any significant injuries, medical costs can quickly and radically exceed those limits and higher limits are generally a good idea.
Emergency medical coverage — covers the cost to transport you to a hospital or appropriate medical care as well as the cost to return you home, on an emergency basis or otherwise. Not all plans cover the cost for family members or companions to travel with you, so it is important to confirm that is included. Additionally, if you are a parent, some plans also include the cost of childcare in the event that you are hospitalized.