Sunday, December 30, 2012

Protect Yourself With a Travel Health Insurance Policy

Whether you are out of the country for a few days or a few weeks, securing travel health insurance before you leave should be considered an essential part of the planning process. “Costs for medical care in the United States and many places around the world can be very expensive,” says John Thain, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada. “Travel insurance helps take care of you and your family and can protect your finances.” Thain recommends buying your health insurance policy from a regulated insurance company, and allowing sufficient time to complete the application process before you leave, particularly if you are required to answer medical questions.

Here, he provides some important tips to snowbirds.

Do not rely solely on your government health insurance plan
While you will have some coverage in the event of an emergency, you need to supplement the small amount the government would provide with a plan that will offer more protection. “Provincial government health plans pay only a very small portion of medical expenses incurred outside of Canada,” says Thain. “Specialists can help you navigate health-care services outside of Canada and guide you in seeking and receiving proper treatment. If something unexpected happens, you will have someone to turn to for help.” 

Know what you’re buying
Thain recommends asking your travel insurance advisor or your insurance company about different plan options: single-trip policy, an annual multi-trip policy or top-up-to-credit card coverage. Be sure to clarify anything you do not understand.

Read through and understand your policy
Rather than take a buy-now-ask-questions-later approach, make sure you understand your policy before you leave. “Insurance companies can have many different approaches to benefits, exclusions, limitations, eligibility and, especially, pre-existing conditions,” says Thain. “It is critical to read and understand your policy before you travel in order to avoid unexpected surprises.” 

Inform your insurer about changes to your health

If something happens between the time you purchase your insurance and the time you leave, you need to inform your provider. This could result in changes to your policy, warns Thain. “Be an informed consumer, know your own health and understand your travel insurance policy.” 

Three misconceptions travellers have about health insurance:

  • Travel insurance is a substitute for your provincial health insurance plan while you are out of the country.
    That is not the case. Travel insurance is for unexpected emergencies only.
  • There is no need for travel health insurance if you are cross-border shopping and will be gone for only a day or two.
    That is not the case. Emergencies can happen at any time to anyone.

  • Once I have my policy, all of my pre-existing conditions will be covered.
    That is not the case. It is essential to review your policy and understand how it defines pre-existing conditions and how terms such as “stable,” “controlled” and “treatment” relate to your personal medical history. Ask your doctor for help in answering medical questions that you are not sure about, including medications, tests you are undergoing or have scheduled and any referral to specialists you have recently had.

by Tara Nolan,

This article appeared in the Toronto Star on December 12, 2012.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Claim example - Travel Underwriters


The human touch can transform an insurance product from cold and impersonal to necessary and real. Claims examples are a way to prove our point and demonstrate the importance of travel insurance, as you can see from this true story:

A 59-year-old was driving on an icy stretch of road in northern California when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into an embankment at 90 km/h. He sustained numerous injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent several emergency surgeries. He then spent nine days recovering before being discharged.

  • Ambulance $2,200.00
  • Hospital Fee $348,563.27
  • Doctor's Fee   $26,593.88
  • Auto Insurance Contribution - $157,000.00
  • Provincial Medical Plan Contribution - $3,345.42

  • Total Out-of-pocket Cost $217,011.73

    "What if this happened to me? What would I have done? Could I afford to pay for these medical expenses on my own?" These are questions you will inevitably ask yourself, and we will help you understand the true value and importance of travel insurance.

    Please feel free to contact us by phone or email and we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Bridges International Insurance Services
    Toll free 1-888-267-4461

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Know Your Health and Your Policy When Travelling

    TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 21, 2012) - With more than half
    (52 per cent)* of Canadians intending to take a vacation outside the
    country this winter, it's important for travellers to be aware that
    provincial health insurance pays only a small portion of out-of-country
    medical expenses.

    "It's necessary to have private travel insurance to be fully protected
    against unexpected medical emergencies encountered during foreign or
    inter-provincial travel," says Martha Turnbull, past president of the
    Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA).

    A registered nurse, as well as a travel insurance professional, Ms.
    Turnbull cautions travellers that although travel insurance plans have
    generous benefits, they have exclusions and limitations, and it's especially
    important to know the state of one's own health when buying insurance.

    Ms. Turnbull suggests the following guidelines for travellers assessing
    and buying travel insurance.

    Know your own health:

    Know what conditions your doctor is treating you for, what medications
    you have been prescribed, if and when changes have been made to your
    medications (your pharmacist can help).

    Ask for the results of any investigations, tests, specialists' findings
    or why you are being referred to a specialist.

    If you have any unanswered questions about your health, ask your doctor
    to review your medical records with you.

    Understand your insurance travel medical insurance policy:

    Since every insurer has different approaches to covering pre-existing
    conditions, it's critical to read and understand the benefits, exclusions,
    limitations, eligibility, and especially pre-existing conditions.

    Understand key definitions such as: stable, controlled, treatment,

    Understand the definition of pre-existing condition because policies
    vary among insurers. Some policies may cover pre-existing conditions
    that are considered stable and controlled for a specific period (such
    as 90 days) prior to departure or booking date (which applies to trip
    cancellation & trip interruption coverage). Some may not cover any
    pre-existing or related condition, so understand how this applies to

    When completing the travel insurance policy medical questionnaire,
    take your time. Read it well. If you have any questions, contact the
    issuing insurance company for clarification and don't hesitate to ask
    your doctor for help or for access to your medical records.

    DO NOT minimize your health status to get a lower premium. Inaccurate
    or incomplete answers could invalidate your claim and leave you stuck
    with the bill.

    When insuring travel arrangements for trip cancellation or interruption

    Book your travel insurance as soon as you place a deposit on your trip
    and try to purchase your travel using a major credit card. If the travel
    supplier goes out of business or suspends operations, you may be
    able to recover some of your costs through the credit card company.
    Travel insurers do not cover financial solvency of airlines, cruise
    lines or other travel suppliers.

    If there is a change in your health or medication, or if you are referred
    for tests or to a specialist, contact your insurance company to determine
    if this could result in any changes to your coverage.

    If you're awaiting test results, a referral to a specialist, or a decision
    on surgery, but want to book travel, consider it very carefully - it
    may be better to delay your travel until after you are stable and
    have recovered. Adds Ms. Turnbull: "Travel insurance plans are offered
    by many different insurance companies in Canada and as such there are
    many coverage, price and benefit options available. "To make the best
    choice, you need to be informed and understand your insurance.

    About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers,
    brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies,
    air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Peace of mind for parents when their kids venture out alone

    Parents can’t always be there to protect their children. We know. So whether they’re headed to Europe or Australia, your children under 30 need travel insurance that can help do the job. TIC’s Youth Adventure plan offers a terrific package with coverage for longer trips that also caters to their unique needs.

    Features and benefits include:
    • Emergency Hospital & Medical protection: $5 million
    • Protection for up to 365 days of coverage
    • Trip interruption: $1,500
    • Accidental Death & Dismemberment: $10,000
    • Baggage $500
    • Competitive pricing with premiums starting at just $27 for 1-16 days of coverage

    Ensure your children plan right for adventure with travel insurance from TIC.

    For more information, contact BIIS  at 1-888-267-4461

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Canadians taking expensive risk by not buying travel insurance: BMO Insurance study

    Canadians who vacation without travel insurance are taking an expensive risk that they won’t be sick or injured while away.
    Findings from BMO Insurace’s online Summer Travel Insurance Study, conducted last month by Pollara and involving a random sample of 1,000 Canadian adults, show that extra medical costs could put a damper on the fun.
    Costs related to breaking a leg while travelling in the United States could run as high as $20,000, and treatment for decompression sickness in Thailand can be as much as $40,000, notes a statement from BMO Insurance.
    “While Canadians can sometimes be covered under the terms of their credit card or workplace healthcare plan, they need to be certain that the correct insurance is in place given the high cost of medical services that can be incurred while away from home,” says Julie Barker-Merz, vice president and chief operating officer of BMO Insurance.
    Forty per cent of respondents reported that, at some point in their lives while traveling, either they required medical attention or a travel companion did.
    That situation is not a good fit with the study’s other findings, including that six in 10 respondents do not regularly purchase travel insurance before traveling. Only half knew that those travelling outside of Canada without medical insurance are responsible for covering the vast majority of medical expenses themselves.
    “Just like packing sunscreen and cancelling the newspaper before leaving home, making sure you have travel medical insurance should be a high priority item on any traveller’s ‘vacation to-do list’,” Barker-Merz says.
    BMO Insurance advises those selecting a travel insurance policy to:
    • get enough insurance (including for medical and dental coverage, air ambulance and airfare and lodging expenses for a family member);
    • understand who pays (a traveller may need to pay for medical care up front); and
    • read the fine print (ensure any issues are clarified with the insurer before leaving home) 

    News from Canadian  July, 5, 2012

    Travel Insurance Quote for Canadians.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Hello from Pacific Blue Cross Plan

    Dear Friends,

    Remind your family and friends of the importance of travel insurance for the upcoming summer season.  The general thought the public has is that they won't need insurance for a trip within Canada, or across the border for shopping.  This is not true as a medical emergency can occur at anytime and the provincial MSP portion offers minimal coverage.  Pacific Blue Cross plans offer affordable protection for the entire family through a 15 day Annual Multi Trip with a rate as low as $104 and $132 for the 30 day.  Also remember Pacific Blue Cross does not apply any surcharges to individuals travelling to the United States as we've got one rate that covers the world.

    Furthermore, make your family and friends aware of the Visitor To Canada Plan which offers protection for their friends and family visiting from abroad.  A quick visit to the emergency room can result in a hefty bill.  For example one of the Vancouver area hospitals charge $825 just to be admitted.  Pacific Blue Cross plans will offer your family and friends coverage up to $500,000 and carry no deductibles with the claims being paid directly when offered by the medical provider.

    If you, your family or friends have any inquires regarding the above plans or any of Pacific Blue Cross's other various emergency medical plans please do not hesitate to contact us at 604-813-9038 or toll free 1-888-267-4461 also Please e-mail us (

     Have yourselves a great summer!

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    News from Travel Underwriter

    Planning to cross the border in your vehicle over the next few months? According to Statistics Canada, Canadians made 2.5 million same-day car trips to the United States in December 2011—the highest monthly level since May 1998. With a consistently strong Canadian dollar and increased duty-free limits, we expect these numbers to increase throughout the year.
    Travelling by motor vehicle as a driver or passenger can be dangerous. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of all hospitalizations in Canada. However, the risks become even greater when driving in a foreign country, where road conditions, driving habits, and rules can be vastly different than at home. 
    With that in mind, not all travel insurance policies are created equal. In fact, some travel insurance companies exclude any claims related to motor vehicle accidents altogether. This is not the case with Travel Underwriters. Travel Underwriters provide full medical assistance whenever possible, making sure your clients are taken care of at the most difficult times. And while your auto insurers are the first payers, Travel Underwriters will cover eligible expenses in excess of their auto insurance policies.
    In many situations, the expenses can be staggering. Consider this recent example:
    A 59-year-old man was driving in Northern California when he lost control and crashed into an embankment at 90 km/h. He sustained numerous life threatening injuries. And while his auto insurance carrier was the primary insurer, the nature of the medical attention required meant that its benefits were soon exhausted.
    Ambulance …………………………………………….…..... $2,200
    Hospital & Doctor’s Fees …...................... $375,157
    Auto Insurance Contribution ………………….. -$157,000
    Provincial Medical Plan Contribution ……….…. -$3,345
    Covered by Travel Underwriters ……. $217,012

    Should you have any questions regarding the benefits of Travel Underwriters’ policies, please feel free to contact us by phone (1-888-267-4461) or email (

    Thank you,