If you’ve started thinking about your winter travel plans, as many Canadians normally do with the approach of Thanksgiving Day, keep travel insurance at the top of your to-do list. It’s too important to leave to the last minute.

Though recent surveys by insurance regulators and travel industry groups have shown that claim denials are rare, it happens to you, and the repercussions can be disastrous to your finances and your well-being.  Travel insurance products are plentiful and increasingly easy to buy, but you need to be cautious and inquisitive when discussing your travel insurance needs with your agent or the person selling you coverage.

  1. Know Your Insurer
    Deal with a known, reliable company that knows or specializes in travel insurance and can offer you a variety of plans suited to your specific health status, age, travel destination, duration of travel, and capacity for risk. Think of this transaction as the difference between a suit picked off a rack, or one tailored to your specific measurements.
  2. Know Your Health Record
    Know your health status and what’s in your medical record. You don’t have to be a trained physician to do this—but you do need to know what medications have been prescribed for you, what the purpose is of each of those medications (e.g. high blood pressure, cholesterol, irregular heart rhythms, digestive tract disorders), and you should be prepared to talk to your doctor about any tests or scans you have undergone recently or are due to undergo, any referrals to specialists, reasons for hospitalizations, changes in medications, new, recurrent or unexplained symptoms being assessed.
  3. Be Truthful—Even if it Hurts
    Be totally honest and thorough with your agent when applying for coverage, especially when answering medical questions. The most frequent cause of claim denials is the applicant’s failure to report a pre-existing condition, medications, symptoms or test results. Ignorance, willful or innocent, is no excuse for providing incomplete or inaccurate health information when applying for insurance. Saying, “my doctor never told me I had atrial fibrillation,” is no excuse for answering No when asked “in the past three years have you been prescribed medication, treated by a physician, or undergone tests for a heart condition?” And it’s up to you to know that if you’re taking blood pressure medication, you must say Yes when asked if you have high blood pressure.|
  4. Your Doctor is Not Your Insurer
    Just because your doctor gives you a “clean bill of health” and tells you it’s safe for you to travel, does not mean you can avoid being completely honest and frank when completing a medical application for travel coverage. It is the insurer who is taking the risk of covering you, not the doctor; and it’s the insurer who determines if you can be covered—or not—or under what terms and price.Look at this transaction as a two-way business deal; you provide accurate information—the insurer provides you with coverage that could amount to as much as five or 10 million dollars’ worth of services.
  5. Claims Will be Investigated
    And just because your insurer issues a Certificate of Coverage, do not consider that an irrevocable deal if the medical information you provided is incorrect, incomplete, or misleading. If you submit a substantial claim, the insurer has a duty to go back into your medical record to investigate and determine if the health information you provided substantiates the validity of your claim. Every time an insurer pays out several thousand, or hundreds of thousands of dollars on an unjustified claim, that loss ends up being paid by premium increases on other travelers.
  6. Compare Equals
    Make sure you compare prices, conditions of coverage, exclusions, and benefits offered in several different plans and by different insurers. Prices can vary markedly according to your age category, health profile, travel destination, acceptance of a deductible, time of purchase (early bird special), and supplement for a pre-existing condition stability warranty. Take your time and compare—but make sure you are comparing equal product components. No use comparing the price of a plan with zero deductible to one with a $1,000 deductible.
  7. A Good Deal or No Deal
    A deal on price is nice. But if it doesn’t fit your health profile, it can be a bad deal. Don’t risk that. Give the purchase of travel insurance the care and time it deserves. This is not a marginal issue. Your provincial government health insurance is not going to bail you out of a bad deal.
  8. Have Questions? Contact us.
    We’ll be sending out more cautionary tips, and helpful advisories, over the coming weeks. Stay with us.  And if you have questions about travel insurance and what you should be looking for or staying away from, you can do so, by entering a comment below. In the meantime, if you are seeking insurance for Canadian Thanksgiving, browse suitable insurance plans here and here.

Looking to get insured for your next trip? Browse our travel insurance products.