Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Travel Insurance For Canadians: What Globe-Trotters Need To Know

Nancy Covel was embarking on a Mediterranean cruise with her family five years ago when on the day the ship departed from Venice, Italy, she began to experience chest pain.
Alarmed, her sister accompanied her to the ship’s medical centre. It turned out Covel had experienced a delayed reaction to a car crash she was involved in three days before the start of her cruise.
“I had a heart specialist take tests and all was clear,” Covel said. “But my blood pressure was over the roof, so they had to give me a drip to bring it down.”
This medical attention would have cost Covel US$1,700, but the travel insurance package she purchased when planning her vacation fully covered the bill.
“I am a strong believer in travel insurance to cover, at the very least, emergency medical,” Covel said.
A medical emergency is the number one concern on travellers’ minds, according to a recent study by BIIS. However, the same study also revealed that of the 83 per cent of Canadians planning to take a summer vacation abroad this year, only half will purchase travel insurance.
Erin Finn, the director of underwriting at RSA Travel Insurance, says this is because Canadians lack an education about what the medical costs can be outside of Canada.
“In Canada, we go to the hospital and we don’t have to pay for it,” Finn said. “People don’t feel like it’s a big risk for them to travel without insurance, but that’s not the case. People don’t realize that they might be out of pocket for those expenses if they don’t have insurance.”
Deciding on what type of coverage best suits your needs can seem daunting. There are many different types of travel insurance on the market; however, they can be broken down into four key components: medical emergency insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage loss and delay, as well as by accidental death and dismemberment.
Medical emergency insurance is the most important travel coverage to have, according to Finn, and should be purchased even if you’re just popping over the border for a weekend getaway.
“A hospital stay in the U.S. can cost upwards of US$7,000 a day, and can be more depending on how serious the emergency is and how long you need to be in the hospital,” said Finn.
And if you thought you were off the hook from purchasing travel insurance when travelling within Canada -- think again.
“Your provincial coverage might not cover you for everything if you’re from Ontario visiting British Columbia, and you become ill and need to be air ambulanced home,” Finn said. “That could be something you have to take on yourself.”
Angels of Flight is a Peterborough-based company that provides medical transport for ill and injured persons across Canada and around the globe by air and ground ambulance as well as commercial airline.
Freya Hannah, project manager at Angels of Flight, said the company often receives calls from out-of-luck Canadians after falling ill or injured while travelling outside their home province.
“Canadian’s who travel into another province don’t know that if they become ill or injured and unable to travel home without medical support, they will get hospital care, but their provincial insurance would never pay for them to be brought home,” Hannah said.
Medical transportation via commercial airline from B.C. to Ontario can cost from $8,000 to $9,000, according to Gail Courneyea, founder and president of Angels of Flight. For individuals who are more critically injured and require an air ambulance, that cost can jump to about $30,000.

Courneyea founded the Global Angel Charitable Organization through fundraisers and grants to provide financial assistance to those who cannot afford hefty medical transportation fees. The charity has assisted ill and injured Canadians stranded abroad or in another province without travel insurance or the money to pay for medical transportation home.
“The cost of travel insurance is very small in comparison to if you have an accident or emergency, while you were outside your province,” Finn said. For those who plan to travel to the U.S. or outside their province of residence more than once in a year, Finn suggests purchasing an annual, multi-trip insurance policy to avoid purchasing travel insurance with each trip.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is another important component of travel insurance. There are a number of reasons you might cancel your trip, such as a medical emergency or a natural disaster in the area you’re visiting. This type of coverage is particularly important for those buying a more expensive trip for the distant future.
Even though the company Covel works for provides some travel insurance, she purchased an all-inclusive emergency medical and trip cancellation and interruption insurance package for extra protection.
“I am a risk-averse person,” Covel said. “Because we were travelling outside of North America, I wanted to be sure we had full medical insurance -- just in case.”
A wise decision, according to Finn.
"It could be that you’re covered through work, but depending on what type of trip you’re taking, you may not be,” Finn said. “We would strongly advise people to read their policy and understand it before they travel.”
Finn said this rule also applies to coverage you may receive through a credit card. She recommends travellers head to an insurance broker who can assess whether their current policy is adequate for their trip, or whether they need additional coverage based on factors such as the destination, the length of their trip and the type of activities they will be doing.
“If you’re going to go bungee jumping, if you’re going to go skiing, if you’re going to go hiking -- anything that is considered an extreme sport -- if you get hurt without purchasing additional travel insurance to cover your extreme sport excursion, then your basic travel insurance does not cover you to come home,” Hannah said.
“You really have to read all the small print,” Courneyea added. “Have you purchased travel insurance? Have you had a chance to read it all and know what will be covered if you become sick or injured? Nobody does. You never read it until something happens.”
If travellers do find themselves in an emergency situation while abroad, one of the benefits of purchasing travel insurance is that travellers have access to a 24-7 emergency assistance provider. Travellers should always make sure they receive a card with a toll-free and collect emergency assistance number when they purchase their insurance (and don’t forget to pack it!).
“If you’re away and your passport gets stolen and you have no idea what to do, you can call the number and they will direct you to the nearest embassy or consulate. Or if you have a medical emergency they can send you to a nearby clinic or hospital and walk you through the process,” Finn said.
The emergency assistance provider will also be managing your claim when you return home, so it’s important to call immediately to get the process started and alleviate some of the stress for when you return home.
Covel called her medical assistance number while on the cruise to confirm what process she needed to follow. And when she returned home to Ajax, she was able to make a successful insurance claim.
“The cost is small in comparison to what could be your personal cost without insurance,” Covel said. “If you never have to use it, great! But in the event something unexpected happens, you’ll be happy you had the insurance.”
Written at The Huffington Post Canada  |  By 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trip Cancellation—Ideal for Winter Travellers

This winter, over 13 million Canadians will vacation abroad. With more disposable income to spend than in previous years, on average, they’ll be spending $3,700. What’s more, 80% have planned these vacations 3 to 6 months in advance. But as you know, a lot can happen in that period of time whether it’s health, job or weather related.

Trip Cancellation offers great protection for your vacation investment, especially when you consider this recent claim:
75-year-old Marge and 46-year-old Julie purchased a 1-week river cruise through Europe. They also extended their trip and purchased a week of land tours, accommodation and rail travel. However, one month prior to departure, Marge fell and fractured her hip. Due to her injury, both women cancelled the trip. The accommodation charges were 100% refundable and both women claimed for the unused non-refundable portions of the remainder of their travel expenses.
Cruise Cost…………..………………………………………………….......... $2,300.00 each
Return Airfare………………………………………………….............…...... $1,750.00 each
Rail Tickets……………………………………………………………….............$156.00 each
Land Tours……………………………………………………………........…..$2,743.95 each
Total Amount Paid by Trip Cancellation Insurance……………....……...... $13,899.90 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why Multi-Trip Travel Insurance is the Economical Choice

An increasing number of Canadians are lining up to cross the Canada-U.S. border for the day. In January alone, 2.8 million same-day car trips were recorded, hitting a 16-year high!1,2 While the lure of a money-saving shopping excursion is credited for many of these quick trips,3 your clients are putting themselves at risk of a potentially hefty hospital bill if they aren’t protected with travel insurance.

Do you know how much an ER visit could cost?

People get sick and accidents do happen — 2009 stats reveal more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments in the United States after being injured in a motor vehicle crash.4 Just one day in an American hospital costs on average $4,287($US).5
This begs the question: Are your same-day travel Canadians protected? Most day-trippers who do not purchase travel insurance aren’t necessarily risk-takers; they just forget to buy it or are simply unaware of the financial risk they are taking.6 Take the initiative and remind yourself!

Manulife travel insurance for the multi-trip traveller

Once awareness of the need for travel insurance is established, find out if you frequently travel throughout the year. If this is the case, find the economical Multi-Trip plan.
This travel insurance plan offers many benefits for you:
  • Purchased once a year, it eliminates the need to fill out an application for individual trips.
  • Interprovincial emergency travel is covered for services such as an air ambulance to transport clients back to their home province.
  • It covers amateur athletics such as hockey and soccer tournaments for no extra charge, providing the sport is not your principal paid occupation.
  • In the event of a medical emergency, by simply calling the 24/7 emergency hotline number, arrangements will be made to have your medical bills sent directly to Manulife, where possible, and you would avoid out-of-pocket expenses.

Travel insurance that’s as flexible as you travel plans

You will also appreciate that the Multi-Trip plan offers a lot of flexibility. Plans can be purchased for 4, 10, 18 or 30 days. Plus, if a trip exceeds the duration limit that they initially purchased, you can top up with additional days for individual trips. So if you travel habits are typically covered by your 18-day plan but they decide to go away once for 25 days, be advised of the availability of a one-time 7-day top-up plan.

The Multi-Trip Plan — it’s more economical than you may think!

If you are convinced that purchasing individual trip insurance is the more economical route, find this example of a travelling couple.
Jenn, 30 years old, and her husband Mike, 35, reside in Ontario. They both enjoy travelling down south a couple of times a year and cross-border shopping. When they compared the cost of purchasing a single-trip plan each time they travel to the cost of purchasing a Multi-Trip plan only once a year, it was evident that a Multi-Trip plan covers medical emergencies for less.
Single-Trip Emergency Medical
Multi-Trip Emergency Medical
Trip #1: 1-day shopping trip for both
10-day trip

Trip #2: 6-day vacation for both
Trip #3: 7-day vacation for both
Trip #4: 1-day shopping trip for both
Trip #5: 8-day vacation for both
Trip #6: 1-day shopping trip for both
for 6 trips
for unlimited number 
of 10-day trips/year
Rates are for a couple, effective November 30, 2012. Rate category A; no deductible.

Pay attention to details

Before discussing the Multi-Trip plan, make sure you understand the different rate categories and definitions. If you are 55 years of age or older and unsure about the stability of any pre-existing medical condition or about their medications, you should consult their doctor before completing the medical questions on the application.

An easy sale

If your travel habits are anything like Jenn and Mike’s, the Multi-Trip plan offers the flexibility, convenience and affordability to suit your lifestyle. With the number of Canadians taking more trips across the border up 5.3% from a year ago,1 this plan will be the ideal choice for many of you who are part of this trend.

  1. Statistics Canada: Travel between Canada and other countries. January 2013. 
    Accessed at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130320/t130320b001-eng.htm.
  2. Statistics Canada: Travel between Canada and other countries. February 2012. 
    Accessed at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/120419/dq120419c-eng.htm.
  3. CBCnews. U.S. cashing in on Canadian shoppers. February 21, 2012. 
    Accessed at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/02/21/cross-border-tax-shopping.html.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury prevention & control: motor vehicle safety. 
    Accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/.
  5. International Federation of Health Plans. 2012 comparative price report.
  6. The Conference Board of Canada. Outbound Canada: Canadian Travel Health Insurance Survey Results. May 2012

Quote: Manulife Financial Affinity Market

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You could be arrested even when you have no idea that you have committed a crime.

Sampling exotic cuisine and experiencing new cultures is half the fun of vacationing abroad! But when a country’s customs and laws are unfamiliar, it’s easy for travellers to make mistakes. In a foreign country, a little blunder can turn into a big legal nightmare! Luckily, Travel Underwriters' international assistance services, including a unique 24/7 legal referral hotline, can help our customers if they find themselves in such a bind.

These real life examples show the benefits:

After buying a mask worth less than $7 Canadian dollars at a local market in Turkey, a woman was arrested while boarding her cruise ship. She had unwittingly purchased an antiquity, which is illegal in Turkey. In this case, who would she turn to for help? With a different legal system and a language barrier, the woman could have been in big trouble. But thanks to the referral service offered, the woman was able to get local legal counsel quickly to resolve the matter.

An elderly couple was given a speeding ticket while driving through Oregon, on their way to Arizona. Little did they know that state law required them to appear in court, even just to pay the ticket. Not only did the legal hotline advise them on the legal issue, but they also worked with the court to pay the fine without the couple needing to go to court.

How does the legal hotline work?

If our clients end up in a legal situation, Travel Underwriters will refer them to the 24-hour legal hotline, ensuring they have someone in their corner when they need it most, even in non-medical emergencies! 
Please do some research on some of the local customs and norms before you go.

For a list of other international assistance services, provided by Travel Underwriters, see the last page of your policy wording.

Hope this helps.

Bridges International Insurance Services 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speeding up the Claims Process

Spring is here and snowbirds are making their way back to Canada. While most of them will return home with happy memories, some will return to medical bills and claims paperwork, due to mishaps or ailments while away.

In order to have a smooth and expedient claims experience, we should:
  • Contact insurance company as soon as possible to open their claim
  • Send all documents right away – almost half of all claims forms are not returned within the first 30 days
  • Double-check all forms are signed where indicated
  • Ensure all bills are original and itemized, including original pharmacy prescription receipts (store or credit card receipts are not sufficient)
  • Contact their doctor immediately regarding medical reports, as this is often one of the most common reasons for delay
If you have any questions or need help filling out claim forms, contact travel insurance companies immediately for help. Once the paperwork is received, the claims process can begin. Other delays are caused by third parties including doctors, hospitals, and airline companies, so the sooner you can provide all necessary documentation, the better.

Hopefully, we could have a safe trip, without incident. But if we do need to submit a claim, make sure to get it well-prepared. If we are going to purchase travel insurance next year, it is good to also provide with claims information. Don't hesitate to contact us, Bridges International Insurance Service, who can answer any questions you may have.

For more information on insurance, visit us at www.biis.ca or call 1-888-267-4461. Our staff would be pleased to answer all your inquiries.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Online Tax Information Make Filing Easier for All

If you’re just starting to file your taxes, you’ll find the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) online information is a fast and easy way to understand what you need to do. Check out a new video for Canadian students meant specially to help them with filing their income tax and benefit return. This tax information video and others like it allow you to choose specific segments that interest you, so you can access only the information you need, when you need it. By watching this video, you’ll be aware of all credits and benefits available to you and your obligations as a taxpayer.

Now, Canada Revenue Agency’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track your refund, and more. Sign up for direct deposit too! Your refund and any benefit or credit payments owed to you will be deposited directly into your account, putting your money into your pocket faster. Plus, if you request direct deposit and file online, you may get your refund in as little as eight days! For more information, go to www.cra.gc.ca/getready.

For more information on insurance, visit us at www.biis.ca or call 1-888-267-4461. Our staff would be pleased to answer all your inquiries.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Tenant's Insurance Covers Your Loss of Possessions and Living Out Expenses

Early last month in Burnaby there was a blaze that destroyed 35 suites. The majority of residents without tenant's insurance coverage had to face loss of all their belongings, including their beloved pets.
"Everybody lost everything. Many cats died, a couple snakes died and a rabbit and frogs, lots of pets," one of the rescued residents said.
The fire also revealed that the wood-frame building, which was about 50 years old, did not have a sprinkler system, and the majority of the tenants did not have insurance. Those tenants who couldn't find friends or family to stay with, about a dozen people, were being put up in nearby hotels for immediate accommodation.
In fact, if you rent your apartment or house from a landlord, tenant's insurance is available to help you replace your belongings after a loss due to fire, theft or water damage. You do not need to get coverage for the building because this is your landlord's responsibility. Your tenant's insurance policy also pays for extra costs that result from the loss. And your insurance protects you if someone gets hurt or someone else's property gets damaged because of your negligence. There are several benefits of a tenant's policy.
Firstly, it protects your belongings in the apartment. If you suffer a loss due to a risk or peril, such as fire or theft, your possessions, including furniture, clothes and electronics, are covered. Policies usually cover certain items such as jewellery or sporting equipment to a minimum amount, so if you have items worth more than the designated amount, talk to your insurance broker about adding extra coverage. Keep receipts for your large-ticket items or have items appraised, and keep these records stored in a safe place. It's also advised that you create an inventory of your belongings along with brand names and serial numbers, and take photos or videos, and store this inventory record in a safe place.
In the event of a loss, insurance pays for any necessary expenses while your apartment is being repaired, such as hotel bills, restaurant meals and moving costs. This coverage is subject to certain limits.
Tenants are responsible for the harm they cause to any part of their apartment building itself and to others who live or visit there (your neighbour's apartments). For example, if a lamp or appliance starts a fire that causes damage not only to your apartment but also to other tenants' or neighbours' contents and any structure of the building you can be held responsible for the cost of that damage.
If your faulty toaster oven starts a fire that damages not only your apartment, but also the entire complex, you may have to pay out a lot of money. Similarly, if someone slips and falls in your apartment, you could be held financially responsible for the cost of the injured person's pain, suffering and medical bills. Tenant's insurance covers these costs.
Types of Tenants' Insurance You Can Buy and What They Cover
Each insurance company packages tenants' insurance products by different names, but they should all include two kinds of coverage - Basic Liability coverage and Contents coverage.
1. Basic Liability coverage protects you if you or your guests cause damage to the building - whether it is your unit or the whole building. If you don't have this protection and you are sued for the repair costs, you could be financially responsible for the whole bill. This coverage is comparable to the liability coverage in a typical homeowners' policy.
2. Contents coverage replaces your belongings if they are lost or damaged. You may think you have little of value, but you would be very surprised how much it would cost you to replace everything - all at once. You should insure for an amount representing the new replacement cost of all your belongings. Coverage is on a named perils or an all risk basis.
Located in downtown Vancouver BC, Bridges International Insurance Services is a leading Canadian insurance broker for over 10 years. We represent major Canadian insurance companies that have been assisting residents in BC. Check out our website at http://www.biis.ca and contact us today at info@biis.ca or 604-408-8695 or 1-888-267-4461.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Save money by doing your own taxes?

Each year in April, it’s time to file our own taxes, while financial experts warn that saving a few dollars up front might end up costing you more on your tax return.

Alim Dhanji, a certified financial planner in Vancouver, says "If our taxes are straightforward and we want to do them ourselves, it's not a bad idea, but if it gets more complicated then hiring a professional can save you a lot of money because there's a lot of items that are often overlooked, and it's hard for an individual to keep up with all the new tax laws."

Dhanji comments there are areas that can be used for tax savings that personal filers can forget about, including income or pension splitting and deferring RRSP contribution room. We should take advantage of these credits can result in thousands of dollars of lost savings.

According to the latest statistics available, the Canada Revenue Agency says 26.1 million Canadians filed a tax return in 2010. Among all filers, 48.2 per cent did their own taxes while 51.7 per cent hired a third party. Cost is cited as one of the top reasons why Canadians opt for the do-it-yourself approach when it comes to tax preparation.

Experts say people should expect to pay anywhere from $20 for tax computer software and at least $50 to file at a clinic. Average rates from tax professionals can range from $150 per hour to $500 for a complicated return involving many slips.

It is advised that we purchase the computer tax software. With popular tax software, like UFile or Intuit's TurboTax, filers are taken through the process step-by-step, and have the option of going back and fixing numbers to see how changes might affect the amount of their return.

For more information on travel insurance, visit us at www.biis.ca or call 1-888-267-4461. Our staff would be pleased to answer all your inquiries.

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