Thursday, November 27, 2014

Report shows that travel health insurance saved Canadians more than $138 million

News of "Million Dollar Baby" and the case of an Australian who is now facing a growing six-figure medical bill are serving as a cautionary tale for other travellers buying insurance.
Yet, travel health insurance saved the majority of Canadians, research shows. 

The vast majority (95.3 per cent) of Canadians who purchased individual travel health insurance policies had their claims paid, says a report based on a KPMG survey of Canadian providers commissioned by the Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA).  Respondents to the survey indicated that the amount of claims paid to more than 103,000 insured travellers exceeded $138 million.

“We’re delighted that more than 95 per cent of travellers had their medical claims paid but that means that five per cent saw their claims denied,” said THIA President Alex Bittner. “Insurance is designed to pay claims. Our goal is to see an increase in these high rates of successful claims.”
A recent THIA survey1 of Canadians revealed that 18 per cent of respondents have inadvertently provided inaccurate health information on travel health insurance forms – something that is to be avoided as it can void an insurance policy.Fourteen per centhave deliberately provided inaccurate health information on travel insurance applications with half of those admitting that they did so to receive a lower rate.  And, only 33 per cent have reviewed medical forms with a physician when applying for travel health insurance.

“Responding accurately to medical forms is the best way to have a carefree holiday and ensure that unexpected medical expenses will be covered by insurance,” said Bittner. “Provincial health plans only pay for approximately 9 per cent of out-of-country medical costs.  If there is a medical questionnaire, it needs to be taken seriously.”
The top two reasons for denied claims include medical non-disclosure and misrepresentation and for pre-existing conditions that were not stable as required by policies.
THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:
  • Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions
  • Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive or undertake any high risk activities?
  • Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance companies have staff available to assist you and answer any questions related to policies 
The THiA website has a guide available to help Canadians understand their travel insurance needs before they investigate policies.

Source: The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada

What to Know About Motor Vehicle Accident Claims and Travel Insurance

If you’re one of 75% of Canadians living within 160km of the Canada-US border, chances are you travel to the US from Canada by car often. Maybe you’re taking advantage of Black Friday sales or picking up online purchases shipped to a nearby US postal address. As the holidays approach, parking lots, intersections, highways and border crossings are even more congested, increasing a chance of an accident. Add rain, snow or sleet to the mix, and bam, accidents happen! If you’re in a car or motorcycle accident in the States, here’s what you should know about making a motor vehicle accident claim.

3 types of insurance may play a part if you’re in a motor vehicle accident on a trip

  1. Collision—covers damage to your vehicle. You purchase this through your auto insurer. Collision Insurance doesn’t cover emergency medical bills (outside of Canada or the US), which is where travel insurance comes in.
  2. Emergency Medical Insurance, a.k.a. travel insurance—covers you. If you’re injured or fall unexpectedly ill, your emergency medical costs will be covered. You purchase this through a travel insurance provider (like one of our many partners).
  3. Liability or ‘third party insurance’—covers injury or damage to others. This is part of your car insurance here in Canada, but it’s different in the States. Liability insurance benefits in the States are incredibly low, compared to our Canadian standards. This is why emergency travel insurance is important: the other party’s liability insurance will not likely cover all your emergency costs.
What this all means is that your car insurance is your primary coverage when you’re in an accident. All travel insurance is in excess of your primary coverage, which means in all cases, you’ll need to go through your auto insurer first. The good news? Travel insurance covers the eligible expenses that weren’t paid by your auto insurer.
Travel to the US from Canada

What if you get in a car accident in the US? Here’s what to do to open a motor vehicle accident claim:

  1. Open a claim with your auto insurer, and follow their process.
  2. While you’re waiting to hear back from your auto insurance, contact your travel insurance company to give them the heads up. Our claims department, for example, appreciates it when travellers let us know about the accident. We even try to speed of the process by preparing claim forms in advance, and putting a note in your file. If we can help, we’re happy to look into it!
  3. Keep anything your auto insurance provider sends you. These documents will come in handy if you have any unpaid, eligible amounts.
  4. Call your travel insurance claims line. Let them know of any payment you’ve received at that point. If any of your expenses are not covered by that policy, they’ll look into it then.

What if you’re not driving your own vehicle?

Your travel insurance covers ANY excess medical emergency costs, even if you’re in a friend’s vehicle, or a rental car. As for the vehicle, it depends on your auto insurer. If there’s physical damage from the collision, you’ll go through them first.

What if you can’t drive back home?

Say you’ve driven your car to the States (or anywhere outside of your home province, for that matter) and had an emergency. If your doctor deems you are unable to continue driving on your trip, Emergency Travel Medical Insurance like ours will cover the return of your vehicle, for example if we have to air-evacuate you to your home province. If you’re travelling alone, or your travel companion can’t drive the vehicle back, a travel insurance policy like ours will cover the return of your vehicle. If your car is not drivable, or too damaged to drive back, arrangements can be made, usually via your auto insurer.

What if you’re in an accident in a rental car in the US?

Your Canadian auto insurance may not extend coverage to rental cars in the US. It depends on the add-ons you’ve purchased with your auto insurer. Have our Rental Car Protection? Then you’re covered for up to $50,000 per trip for physical damage or loss of a rented or leased vehicle. This is good to know for snowbirds who lease a car in the States! Rental car protection also covers things like
  • Towing
  • Salvage
  • Fire department charges (bet you never thought of that one before, right?)
Travel medical insurance is of course necessary to cover any medical emergencies or personal medical costs tied to an accident, whether in a rented or owned vehicle.
If you purchased the (usually costly) rental car travel insurance provided by the rental car company, make sure you investigate their coverage in detail and ask questions about their benefits and exclusions before you drive away.
When in doubt, ask questions about your car or travel insurance, especially when travel to the US from Canada in concerned. We’ll be happy to help!

 Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What are the most important things I need to know about Travel Insurance?

There are a lot of websites which explain the coverage  
But, what are the most important things I need to know about Travel Insurance?  What is "Pre-Existing medical conditions"? What is "Eligibility"?

The Travel Helath Insurance Association of Canada has created guide to travel insurance for Canadian consumers.Obtain information as much as possible, be a smart shopper!

To download the PDF copy of the guide, please click the following link:

Travel Insurance for Return of Pets & Vehicles.

No Pets or Cars Left Behind: Travel Insurance for Return of Pets & Vehicles

You’re a savvy traveller, so you know travel insurance will cover you for medical emergencies. Did you know that the same travel insurance also covers the return of your car or pet? Return of vehicle and return of pet while travelling are little known, but handy benefits that our insurance covers.
More travellers are vacationing with pets than ever before. Why leave the little furball at home when tourist destinations and hotels make it easy to bring along your furry friend? Here’s a little known fact about travel insurance: if you’re in an accident outside your home province, your emergency medical travel insurance will make sure Fido gets home safely. Here’s how it works: if you have an emergency while travelling and your doctor confirms you are unable to continue driving on your trip or drive back home, your emergency medical travel insurance will cover the safe return of your pet or car.
We can’t speak for other insurance providers, but here’s what our Emergency Medical Insurance covers:

Return of accompanying dog or cat

If you’re in a travel emergency and air-lifted back to your home province, we’ll cover up to $300 to return your cat or dog (sorry, pet lizards and hamsters!) This includes travelling with show dogs too.
Here’s a tip for pet travel outside of Canada:
  • Have an emergency contact name for a family member or friend close by as an emergency dog/cat-sitter. This way, your pet won’t be left in strangers’ hands if you’re ill or injured and can’t care for them.
pet travel canada

Return of vehicle (or vehicle repatriation, in insurance-speak)

If you’re in a travel emergency and air-lifted back to your home province, or if your doctor determines you can’t continue on your trip by driving, emergency travel insurance will cover the return of your vehicle. This applies to any vehicle on the trip that you own: cars, motorbikes, trucks, RVs and campers, but not commercial vehicles, or if you’re driving in a vehicle owned by your friend or a family member.
In the event of an accident or illness, our Claims Assistance team often helps travellers get in touch with family members or travel companions to return their vehicle. If you don’t know anyone in the area, we hire a professional, bonded driver to return your vehicle to you as soon as possible.
The Return of Vehicle benefit is good to have if you’re travelling alone, or if your travel companion is unable to drive your car back for you. The latter is often the case if you’re travelling with a child or an elderly family member who doesn’t have their license. We cover up to $4,000 for your vehicle to be returned to your home province, or in the case of a rental vehicle, the return of the rental car to the nearest rental agency.

Our tips for a smooth return of vehicle:

  • Make a list of all major items packed in the car. The professional driver contracted to drive your vehicle across the border has to present a list to customs officers, and the list will speed up the crossing.
  • Keep a copy of your car insurance papers in your vehicle. The driver will need this information too.
  • Don’t send your vehicle back with firearms, tobacco and alcohol, currency, etc. Read Sarah’s post for more information on what you (or your driver) can take back over the border.
As the holiday shopping season approaches, so does one of the busiest border crossing seasons of the year. Check out more tips on How To Travel With Pets and How To Road Trip Like a Pro.

 Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.

What You Need to Know Before planning a Babymoon.

Recently, news broke on the “Million Dollar Baby” claim. Saskatchewan resident, Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel’s insurance provider denied payment for her daughter’s premature birth in Hawaii.
While we can’t speak to the details of this particular case, we can give you some general information about what our travel medical insurance would/wouldn’t cover for expecting mothers.

What You Need to Know Before planning a Babymoon.

Over the last few years, the “babymoon” has become increasingly popular as expectant parents embrace the idea of taking one last trip before their lives are changed forever.

maternity coverage travel insuranceCelebrity babymoons became a regular feature on the cover of glossy magazines and before long, mainstream couples started booking their own pre-baby getaways.
I travelled during both of my pregnancies, before the term babymoon was in fashion, and it didn’t occur to me either time to confirm the details of my medical coverage. The first trip was uneventful but during the second, I became ill with food poisoning and had to be attended to by the on-call physician at our resort. Fortunately, the baby and I were both fine and the relatively small expense was covered by my husband’s health insurance plan. In retrospect, I should have been better prepared before I boarded that flight.
Here’s what expectant Canadians should know before planning a babymoon.
1. Check the Terms of your policy:
Expectant mothers will be relieved to know that pregnancy does not increase travel insurance premiums. The terms noted below are from Travel Underwriters‘ policy, but these are considered standard among Canadian insurance companies. It is important, however, to still check your policy because terms relating to maternity coverage may vary.
2. Medical coverage:
While there is no specific maternity benefit, coverage may be provided for unexpected emergency expenses related to pregnancy EXCEPT during the 9 weeks before or after the expected delivery date.
Expenses that arise from an emergency not related to the pregnancy, such as a broken leg, may be covered even during that 9 week window. Routine pre-natal care will not be covered by an insurance policy.
maternity coverage travel insurance
3. Pre-existing condition coverage:
A pregnancy complication, such as gestational diabetes, which exists prior to the trip, will be considered a pre-existing condition. This means that treatment of the complication while travelling will only be covered if stability requirements have been met. Stability requirements may vary per policy, and are usually based on your age and trip length.
4. Trip Cancellation Insurance:
If you purchased Trip Cancellation Insurance before knowing you were pregnant, you will be covered if your trip falls within the 9 weeks before or after your due date. You will also be covered if you need to cancel your trip from complications within the first 31 weeks of your pregnancy.
5. What if something happens?
If you go into labour while abroad, you should contact your travel insurance provider as soon as you can (though, obviously, under reasonable circumstances. Get to the hospital first!). Your provincial health insurance plan will typically cover $50-$100 per day, and provided you’re outside the 9 week window, travel insurance will cover the rest.
If you go into labour while travelling within Canada, medical bills are generally covered by your provincial health insurance; travel insurance will cover expenses outside of that. Take note that you may have to pay out-of-pocket for some costs, depending on what your policy covers.
Now that you are familiar with how travel insurance applies during pregnancy, the only thing left to do is decide where to go on that much-needed babymoon! Enjoy!

Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Safety Tips for an international traveler.

Traveling gives us great memories and amazing photos. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget about our surroundings and fall victim to scams and thieves. Try these eight international travel safety tips to become a smart traveler.

1. Watch out for travel scams

Scam artists are everywhere and they’ll try their best to get you to part with your hard-earned money.  Whenever you book anything travel related, whether it’s tours, flights or hotels, be sure to do your due diligence.  Travel scams aren’t always obvious; if you’re unfamiliar with a company, check travel reviews before making any purchases.
How to protect yourself from identity theft

2. Protect yourself from identity theft

Have you ever wondered how to protect yourself from identity theft while travelling?  It’s simple; only carry things you’ll need. That means leave your social insurance number card and birth certificate at home.  Despite popular belief, you don’t need to carry your passport at all times unless the country you’re visiting requires it.
Cheques are another thing you can do without.  They’re not widely accepted and list your banking information, so be a smart traveler and leave them at home.

3. Use credit

Credit cards are a must when traveling since they can offer you benefits like travel baggage insurance and chargeback.  Travel baggage insurance covers theft of personal items while traveling. Having the right travel medical insurance is a must, so check whether your credit card travel insurance coverage is enough. If not, purchase some additional coverage.
Be warned that not all travel insurance policies are created equal—read up on coverage and exclusions to determine which policy you should go with. Another benefit of using a credit card is chargeback. This protects you in case you’re a victim of fraud, or didn’t receive the product or service you purchased.
I suggest bringing two credit cards on different accounts e.g., one VISA, one MasterCard in case you have any issues with one of them.  Keep one in your wallet and the other in your hotel safe; this protects you if your wallet gets lost or stolen.
Credit card providers know your spending patterns, so an unexpected foreign purchase may trigger a block on your account.  To avoid this, call your credit card provider to let them know when and where you’re traveling to.
How to protect yourself from identity theft while travelling

4. Be cautious of ATMs

ATMs are the easiest and cheapest way to get foreign currency.  You can find ATM’s everywhere and they usually charge much lower rates compared to if you exchanged money back home at your bank or foreign exchange.  To prevent fraud, avoid independent ATMs and try to use only ATMs associated with your provider’s network.  Both VISA and MasterCard have worldwide ATM locators which makes finding a trustworthy ATM easy.
Just like credit cards, you need to let your bank know that you’ll be traveling so your debit card doesn’t get blocked.  Be aware that in most foreign countries only 4 digit pin codes are allowed, so change it prior to traveling if you are using anything different.
Carrying too much cash on you is never a good idea, so try to head back to your hotel after withdrawals cash from an ATM.

5. Watch out when using Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi is practically a gold mine for travelers, but before you start posting pictures to Instagram and responding to tweets, make sure you’re joining a secure network.  Look for the word “secure” beside any network you’re about to join (find this in your Wi-Fi settings) to ensure it has security enabled.
A smart traveller doesn’t forget to read the privacy statements before joining any networks; you’d be surprised what information you’re agreeing to give up.
Here’s a list of smart travel apps you should download before leaving for your trip.

International travel safety tips

6. Don’t forget about home

This should be obvious, but arrange for someone you trust to pick up your mail when you’re away on vacation.  An overflowing mailbox is practically an invitation for thieves to come check out your place.  If you don’t want to inconvenience your friends, you can always purchase hold mail service directly from Canada Post.
This may sound old school, but leave at least one light on at home when you’re away. It’ll make thieves second guess if your home really is empty.

7. Digitize your documents

Pretty much all trip itineraries come via e-mail these days, so why not digitize your other documents as well?  Your passport, travel medical insurance, driver’s license, credit cards (scan both sides so you have the emergency numbers), debit card and health card are just a few things you want to make sure you have scanned.  In the event you lose the physical documents, it’ll be much easier to get replacements with your digital copies as proof.
When I travel I keep these documents on my tablet and in my-email, but I also send them to someone I trust back home just in case I am unable to access the files.

8. Keep yourself updated

The Government of Canada recommends that Canadians travelling sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.  To be realistic, if you’re heading south to Florida you won’t need to register, but if you’re the adventurous type who likes to travel off the beaten path, it definitely doesn’t hurt to be a smart traveller and register.
Before visiting any country it’s worth checking out the current travel advisories from the Government of Canada.  Isolated incidents of violence in remote places shouldn’t affect your travel plans too much, but you definitely want to know what the current advisories are since they could affect your travel insurance coverage.
 Once you’re home from your trip, here’s a list of travel documents you need to keep in case you need to file for a travel insurance claim.

  Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Traveling to US for deal on Black Friday? Travel Insurance, just in case.

Many Canadians shop in the US. Who can resist a good deal? Some of us go back and forth over the border without even thinking about it. But accidents can happen, even on the shortest of trips or while doing the ‘safest’ activities like shopping. Here are a few real-life experiences that illustrate how common injuries can be, while shopping in the US from Canada.

“Minor” slips or trips

While shopping in the States, Tara slipped on spilled nail polish and sustained minor injuries. The store did not accept responsibility on the basis that the spill was caused by another customer.
canadians shopping in the us
A second traveller, Dominic, tripped over a fixture at the same retail store and ended up with a fracture. When I think of the Black Friday chaos I’ve seen in some stores, this kind of accident is more common than people realize!
If you get injured in a store, it could be costly and complicated. Third party liability makes for some ‘sticky situations’—it’s really on a case by case basis. Travel insurance may not cover the claim if a retailer is liable, but it could still help pay out-of-pocket costs up front.

Health conditions can surface out of the nowhere

63-year-old June was shopping in an outlet mall when her leg suddenly gave way beneath her, resulting in a fracture. The fracture was found to be “pathological,” meaning it was due to an underlying condition. Further examination and testing determined June had a malignant tumour in her left shoulder; unfortunately, the cancer had already spread throughout her body.
Getting injured in the States is costly! You probably know by now that the US has some of the highest costs for medical treatments. In fact, a hip fracture could cost up to $85,000! It’s smart to have travel insurance whenever you go across the border, even if it’s just a short trip, or a quick shopping visit. Your provincial healthcare only covers a small portion—hence the need for emergency hospital medical coverage.
And here’s a tip: if you travel frequently to the US, consider Multi Trip Annual travel insurance. It’s more economical to purchase one Multi Trip Annual policy for an entire year, versus buying multiple Single Trip policies. For example, purchase a policy with a 10-day trip length on an annual plan, and have unlimited trips of up to 10 days at a time for the year! Just ask your local insurance broker for details.

 Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Travel Insurance and Alcohol

You’re finally on a well-deserved vacation after months of hard work and saving. But a day of sun and a few too many drinks makes your heart skip a beat…and not in a good way! It might be holiday heart syndrome; an irregular heartbeat in an otherwise healthy person.
Holiday heart is usually temporary and often follows binge drinking. It can also be a result of stress or dehydration, so you can see how it can show up during vacation.

Why travel insurance and alcohol don’t mix

If you have to seek medical care for holiday heart syndrome or any other alcohol-related accident or illness, will your travel insurance cover the costs?
travel insurance alcohol
Many travellers assume they’re covered once they buy travel insurance, no matter what. But alcohol-related illness and/or injuries are one of the most common reasons claims are denied. Travel health insurance is designed to cover accidents and unexpected medical emergencies, not acts of negligence. So most travel health insurance plans don’t cover alcohol and drug-related injuries.

Get to know your travel health insurance policy

Alcohol-related accidents or illnesses can affect the kind of insurance you’re eligible for. For example, if alcohol contributes to a chronic pre-existing condition, like cirrhosis, ask if your travel insurance will cover it. Not all policies will! Read your policy’s alcohol exclusion carefully before buying, or ask your travel insurance provider to go over the details with you. It’s also wise to avoid abusing all illegal and prescription drugs.
It’s important to shop around for insurance that suits your health, age and any medication you’re taking. And remember, if you’re over 60, you’ll likely have to fill out a medical health questionnaire. Ask your doctor to assist you, if needed.

Keep these travel safety tips in mind

After all this, it’s your vacation and you may want to wind down with a couple of drinks.  The Government of Canada has some useful safety tips related to alcohol, drugs and travel.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
  • Follow the same safety rules for drinking and drug-use as you would at home. Use alcohol responsibly and stay away from drugs.
  • Always keep an eye on your drinks, and don’t accept drinks from strangers. As at home, unsavoury characters could lace your drink with narcotics.
  • Be aware that alcohol served at your destination may be stronger than you’re used to. Don’t drink home-brewed alcohol and never drink in countries where alcohol is banned.
  • And of course, never drink and drive or get into a vehicle with a driver who’s under the influence.
Last of all, have a healthy and enjoyable vacation!
  Copyright © 2014 Travel Underwriters, All rights reserved.