We recently had the opportunity of attending a webinar on travel insurance in the world of Covid. Of course, when travelling, we don’t want to think of what could go wrong but let’s face it, life happens. Here’s what I learned about travel insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s start with what I think is most obvious: COVID-19 is NOT covered in most plans. Before travelling, you should know that the average hospital treatment for COVID-19 is $15,000 to $50,000 and even more. But, coverage is possible when you buy travel insurance that covers COVID-19 at an additional cost.
Canada Only Coverage
Canada only coverage is available, it’s cheaper than international coverage, and it covers you from province to province.
You shouldn’t put off province coverage. OHIP will cover you, but if you are in another province and need emergency coverage, the cost of coverage in that province might be more than what OHIP will typically pay. You are responsible for the difference or the entire amount if OHIP will not cover any of it.
Out Of Country Coverage
You should keep in mind that out-of-country coverage is only applicable for unforeseeable items. For example:
If you’re travelling somewhere and you need to return home for a family member who was ill before you left, expect no coverage on this.
You should also note that travel exclusions for the country you are travelling to are based upon the date you are purchasing coverage, not your travel dates.
There are many things to consider for out of country coverage. For example, insurance companies must consider things like: if the patient ever did need to be airlifted out of the country, can they fly?
Sometimes an insurance company is viewed as refusing to fly someone home for treatment. One reason why this happens is if there is no bed available in the area to provide treatment. In that case, they will not permit flying someone home.
When it comes to receiving visitors into Canada from another country or even another province, you should remind them that if they don’t have provincial health coverage or other, a typical visit to the hospital’s emergency room can be $1,000 or more out of pocket.
Suppose you have a family member traveling outside of Canada as a student. In that case, you’ll be relieved to know that student travel insurance is available and includes some other non-emergency benefits (like wellness benefits) and may even include tuition reimbursement if, for some reason that their schooling is interrupted during this time.
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Sports or any hazardous activities such as parasailing, skydiving, equestrian (in some cases), and pro sports are not typically covered. Ziplining is covered with Manulife, but you may want to double-check similar activities covered by your insurance if you plan on participating in those.
You must be stable typically within 90 days of travelling. This means any changes to medications, even dosage, or any planned or pending treatments within 90 days need to be stable. If any of these change, it will mean, in all probability, your coverage will not be valid. It’s recommended you always check before leaving and see if certain items are covered or not.
At the webinar, it was suggested not to let your doctor change your medications within 90 days of a trip. You might think that if the doctor lowers the dosage on a prescription you’ve been taking for a while is not considered a risk, but it is. The insurance company is concerned that maybe that decrease in dosage made lead to issues while you’re away.
In case of any changes, there are zero-day stability plans available if you ask for what they will be available at a higher price and will require you to provide information on the medical condition or what is changing.
Not understanding the dates and conditions of coverage
For people who sign up for an annual plan, which may also include a multi-trip, it’s crucial to know that the 90-day stability clause resets every time you depart from Canada.
Not thoroughly reading or answering all the medical questions correctly
This includes clarifying questions like a prescription you are currently not taking but was prescribed to you just in case of a flair-up.
For example, if you have occasional asthma or bronchitis and the doctor gives you a script within 90 days of travel to have with you. In this case, you are not considered medically stable.
Lastly, lying on the application usually is caught at some point in the process. Some try not to provide all the information, and when you don’t, sure, you may be approved at a lower premium, but that’s based upon the information you have shared. If they ultimately find out in the event of a claim that you didn’t provide all the information or that you lied, coverage will not be in force.
Not calling before you get treatment while you are away
In some cases, the insurance company will not pay. You may be responsible for 20 percent to 25 percent or more of the claim in other situations.
Relying on credit card travel insurance
The quality of credit card travel insurance is sometimes linked to the amount of the annual fee you pay for the card. If you pay nothing or very little, don’t expect much. It also typically includes some exclusions.
For example, coverage may only be for the primary cardholder and not available for your spouse or kids. It may also have pre-existing condition exceptions and may have a different stability clause. Sometimes there is no coverage unless your trip is booked on the same credit card. So, you must read the fine print.
Not ensuring you’re getting coverage in certain countries
Again, this goes back to travel advisories, but even beyond that, there may be countries where your contract of coverage will not be included.
Not supplementing your provincial health coverage
Or said another way, assuming your provincial health coverage will pay. Don’t assume your OHIP will pay.
Not understanding what is not covered
There may be certain things your plan will not cover. So you need to read your documentation, and yes, I know it could be pages and pages of documentation, but it’s crucial you understand what you are covered for and, most importantly, what you are not covered for.
Relying on word of mouth
Relying on word of mouth from people who are not experts on travel insurance can be a costly mistake. And that includes following advice from friends and family.
Finally, people relying on travel insurance coverage in their group insurance plan be sure to read the fine print on all the above.
There is a lot to know about travel insurance. Before you take your next trip, make sure to contact us first. We offer many kinds of insurance, and we’d love to help you have a worry-free trip!