SGI Canada reminding travellers to protect homes during deep freeze

Saskatoon / 650 CKOM

For those homeowners looking to recharge their inner batteries, thaw out and start Googling exotic vacation spots, SGI Canada is reminding them to hold on and double-check their home insurance checklists.

Western Canada’s current cold spell is an example of weather that can take a nasty, damaging toll on one’s home.

“We do see an increase in claims activity when the temperature plummets like this,” said Kurtis Reeder, the company’s senior director of personal lines underwriting.

“Two of the more prevalent claims are water escape due to water freezing in pressurized lines, and then expanding, breaking the pipes, and causing a lot of water damage in the home.

“The second one is due to fire. With the increased use of heating appliances in the cold, there is an increased risk of fire caused by the heating appliances.”

He recommended homeowners check with their insurance brokers as to the conditions their policies have for coverage when they’re away on vacation.

For example, SGI Canada’s policies say that if an owner is away for 10 days or more, they have to have someone check on their home daily, shut off the water supply to the house and drain the pipes or have a home security company monitor temperature decreases, he said.

Otherwise, the policy isn’t valid.

“Every company has similar conditions, but they could be a little bit different,” Reeder said.

Water pipes can freeze and burst if a door or window is left open over a long period, or a home’s furnace shuts down and can’t fire back up, he said.

Even for people planning shorter getaways, Reeder recommended someone checking on the home every day, picking up the mail and turning on different lights inside.

Those are deterrents to potential thefts and break-ins.

He also offered some digital advice: Avoid posting photos and travel updates on social media until the vacation is over.

“Share those pictures and your travel stories when you return and not while you’re on vacation, because it could make yourself a target for theft,” he said.

Reeder said SGI Canada’s website and social media feeds regularly post updated home and travel insurance and online security tips.

Source:

Saskatoon / 650 CKOM

There are plenty of things that can go wrong on vacation if you don’t have travel insurance

The excerpted article was written by Ross McLaughlin | CTV News Vancouver

When a Kitchener, Ontario man was admitted to the hospital in December in Thailand and diagnosed with a brain tumor, his travel insurance company denied coverage to fly him home. Why? Because he had seen a doctor about a headache a month earlier thinking he was suffering from the flu.  Following media coverage the company rescinded and paid for the emergency evacuation.

When a man from Mississauga had a heart attack in Las Vegas in July, his travel insurance refused coverage because he’d been on oxygen and was unstable two months prior to the trip. Although not necessarily obligated, the insurance company flew him home after he received a pacemaker. He’s now stuck with a Las Vegas hospital for $877,000.

These stories are not uncommon but that doesn’t mean you should avoid buying travel insurance. It’s better to have it than not have any protection at all.

“Over 95 per cent of all the claims that get submitted are paid,” said Will McAleer, past president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.

Yet, according to a survey by THiA, many Canadians leave home without travel insurance; 45 per cent mistakenly believe that they’ll be covered by their provincial health plan while 25 per cent who do buy travel insurance don’t understand it.

“A lot of people go and get insurance thinking they’re covered for everything, don’t know what they have and then are surprised to find out they aren’t covered for certain things,” said Flight Centre’s Allison Wallace.

That’s why you need to read your travel insurance policy carefully and ask a lot of questions before buying it.

Some possible exclusions

  •  High-risk activities like parasailing and downhill skiing
  •  Pre-existing conditions
  •  Alcohol consumption prior to being injured.

“A lot of insurance companies have clauses that will exempt them if they’re under the influence and that could be one drink,” said Wallace.

The THiA survey showed 20 per cent admitted to having more than five drinks in two hours while on vacation.

“We we’re surprised to see that many Canadians have participated in binge drinking as well,” said McAleer.

And you should always check travel advisories before you booking your trip and buying travel insurance; if there’s a travel advisory in place that could void your insurance.

If you’re going to be taking part in high risk activity like scuba diving you might have to shop around for supplemental insurance to make sure you’re covered.

Travel Insurance checklist

  •  Understand your policy – read all the fine print.
  •  Know your health – talk to your doctor if you have questions.
  •  Know your trip – where are you going, how long and what types of activities will you participate in?
  •  Know your rights – the travel insurance industry adopted The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for travel insurance.
Many credit cards offer travel insurance, but not all policies are created equal

Many credit cards offer travel insurance, but not all policies are created equal

The excerpted article was written by

At last, your highly anticipated vacation is around the corner. As you count off the days on your commute to work each morning, thoughts of anything going wrong while you’re away couldn’t be further from your mind. Besides, you’re pretty sure you’ve got travel health insurance through your credit card anyway, right?

Millions of Canadians have some travel health insurance coverage, either through a policy that comes with a premium credit card or an employer-sponsored health plan, says Will McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA). “Some of those are more than adequate for Canadians who travel this winter.”

The problem is that many of us aren’t clear on any of the policy details, which likely include restrictions based on length of stay, age, cost of treatment and any pre-existing conditions you may have. Often, those details aren’t that visible to the consumer, who may have only glanced at the marketing brochure that came with that card or workplace healthcare policy, says McAleer.

Many of these policies expire after age 64 and won’t cover you for a trip longer than 15 days. Or they can max out too soon, designed to pay for a drop-in clinic consult for a case of pink eye but not an emergency medical evacuation if you injure your spine while skiing.

In a recent survey, THIA found that only a little more than a quarter of respondents were clear about what’s covered by a travel policy they hold.

There are four “golden rules” of travel health insurance that Canadians should understand, says McAleer.

  1. Know your policy
    “Understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t,” he says. Whether that means digging up the information that came with your credit card or workplace insurance, or understanding a new policy you’re planning to purchase, go over the fine print very carefully. Call the insurance company and get specifics if you have any questions.
  2. Know your trip
    Are you travelling as a snowbird, or are you going to go bungee jumping or scuba diving?” asks McAleer. You need to make sure your policy matches your trip and the risks you’re taking while you’re away. You’ll need more insurance for hiking the Inca Trail in Peru or scuba diving in Belize than you would for parking yourself on a beach for a week. The costs for emergency services outside of the country can be significant, particularly when you consider that 80 to 90% of Canadians vacation in the United States—“arguably the most expensive place for medical treatment on the planet,” says McAleer. “A code blue emergency—so, a life-saving emergency—not only could it cost you $10,000 a day, it could cost you $10,000 an hour, depending on how serious the emergency is.”
  3. Know your rights and responsibilities
    McAleer says consumers have a right to contact their insurer to ask for specifics about what’s covered, as well as to appeal if coverage gets denied. “But you’ve also got responsibilities,” he says. The first of those is to make sure you’re answering any medical questions correctly and accurately, “because if you don’t, [that] could lead to disappointment when you need it the least.” Barring a catastrophic situation where it’s simply not possible to do so, you also have a responsibility to contact your insurance provider, not your credit card company, before accessing medical services—otherwise, you may not be covered.
  4. Know your health
    If you’ve been to the doctor for anything beyond a regular checkup recently, you need to learn if those issues could be considered a dreaded “pre-existing condition” that your insurer will exclude from your coverage, says McAleer. If you do have something going on with your health, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay home, says Sivan Tumarkin, an insurance and disability lawyer. The key is to get a policy that’s designed to account for whatever you’ve got going on with your health. Manulife, for example, offers travel insurance that’s tailored to whatever pre-existing conditions the customer may have, he says. Note that it’s critical not to cut corners when describing any health issues you have.

“If you make a claim, they’ll pore through your records to find any arguments you’ve breached the policy,” he says.

Tumarkin advises against getting insurance from a travel agent. Because they’re not brokers, they can’t advise you in detail on what a policy will cover. Instead, go to a reputable insurance broker. These pros sell policies from a variety of insurance companies and will help you understand the options. If your employer or credit card coverage isn’t sufficient, a broker can find you a policy that will top you up should you need anything more than the basic drop-in clinic visit.

Vacation costs add up, so it can be tempting to go for a bargain-priced policy offered by your travel agent and travel website.

“Most people will go for whatever is cheapest, but there’s a reason why it’s priced that way,” says Tumarkin.

Source: MoneySense

Snowbirds file challenge against cuts to OHIP travel insurance

TORONTO – A group representing Canadians who spend part of the year in sunnier climes has filed a legal challenge against Ontario’s decision to scrap out-of-country health insurance, saying the government’s move violates the Canada Health Act.

The Canadian Snowbird Association announced Thursday that it was seeking a judicial review of the changes, which came into effect on New Year’s Day.

“These cuts are an egregious violation of the portability requirement of the CHA and must be addressed head-on,” association president Karen Huestis said in a written statement.

The program covered out-of-country inpatient services up to $400 per day for higher level of care, and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services.

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced last May that the government would cut the program, saying it was costly and did not provide value to taxpayers. The announcement followed a six-day public consultation.

The snowbird association had previously said it was seeking an injunction, but spokesman Evan Rachovsky said that’s still up in the air as they focus on the upcoming review, which has a court date set for June.

He noted that the organization was founded on the issue of travel health insurance in the early 1990s, when the provinces were making cuts to the program.

A spokeswoman for Elliott wouldn’t comment on the case as it is before the courts, but noted that the program was largely ineffectual, paying out only five cents of every dollar claimed.

“With this limited coverage and low reimbursement rate, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay,” Hayley Chazan said in an email.

Elliott has previously said the province spent $2.8 million to administer approximately $9 million in claim payments through the program every year.

In a July letter to Elliott, the federal government warned that scrapping the program could cost Ontarians.

“If all publicly financed reimbursement of out-of-country physician and hospital services is eliminated, private health insurance premiums for travellers will inevitably rise for all Ontario residents,” then-health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor wrote. “Even modest increases could pose a hardship for some individuals.”

Provincial NDP health critic France Gelinas said the change means Ontario is the only province or territory that does not provide some basic health coverage to residents while they are outside Canada, even if it is a small amount.

“There are so many people who will never be able to buy insurance,” she said. “It’s just not feasible or affordable for them. For them, that little wee bit of a guarantee was there and was meaningful.”

 

‘Snowbirds’ challenge Ontario’s cut to travel insurance

The Star Vancouver Edition |

Just a day after Ontario’s move to axe out-of-country emergency health coverage came into effect, a group representing Canadian “snowbirds” said it will fight the change in court.

Arguing the change violates both federal law and provisions of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the Canadian Snowbird Association is now asking for a judicial review.

“Portability is enshrined in the Canada Health Act,” said Evan Rachkovsky, director of research and communications for the association. “These people worked their entire lives and paid into the system and should be receiving those benefits for out-of-country emergency service.”

The program provided up to $400 a day for emergency in-patient care and up to $50 a day for outpatient services. That ended Dec. 31, making Ontario the only province that does not to provide some coverage for residents outside of Canada.

The Ford government has said the program was inefficient, costing taxpayers almost $3 million a year to deliver $9 million in coverage, and that the reimbursement rate was low compared to users’ actual medical bills.

Following an initial outcry from seniors, the province postponed the cancellation to the new year and has since started a new program to provide travelling dialysis patients with $210 per treatment, a fraction of what it costs in the U.S.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office had no comment Thursday on the court challenge, but said “the Out-of-Country Traveller’s Program, which spends a third of its funding on administration costs alone, has not historically provided Ontarians with meaningful travel coverage.”

Spokesperson Hayley Chazan also said “the program’s coverage is very limited with five cents of every dollar claimed. Fully 95 per cent of claims are paid directly to insurance companies. With this limited coverage and low reimbursement rate, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.”

The government, she added, “has always strongly encouraged individuals to purchase additional travel health insurance so they are adequately covered every time they leave Ontario to travel abroad.”

Both the federal government and the snowbird association have raised concerns that private health costs will increase as a result of the change.

“Snowbirds” — seniors who fly south in the winter months to avoid the cold in Canada — “may need coverage for the duration for any conditions they may have. Those premiums could be thousands of dollars” and make travel unaffordable for those living on a fixed income,” Rachkovsky said.

The provincial auditor has made a number of suggestions to streamline the program, including offering a daily flat rate for emergency coverage, rather than a range of $200 to $400.

The non-profit snowbird association represents more than 115,000 Canadians, including more than 50,000 Ontarians.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: 

Changes to Out-of-Country Medical Coverage Now in Effect

As of January 1, 2020, OHIP no longer covers any portion of out-of-country medical expenses

THORNHILL, ON, Jan. 2, 2020 /CNW/ – CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is reminding travellers that changes to out-of-country medical coverage in Ontario are now in effect, prompting the need to review travel insurance coverage.

“We are working to educate travellers to make sure they know what they are buying. We are an organization founded to help keep our members safe, and coverage while travelling abroad is a big part of that,” said Elliott Silverstein, director, government relations, CAA Insurance. “Travel insurance protects from unexpected and costly emergencies and it’s important to evaluate available coverage, based on personal needs, to determine how to best safeguard you and your family. This is even more important now that there is no coverage through OHIP.”

Some of the key things to consider when it comes to buying travel insurance are how many trips you are taking a year; if you want comprehensive coverage or medical-only insurance; and whether or not the insurance provider offers additional assistance such as interpreters, hospital recommendations and other coordination services.

Additional tips to consider when buying travel insurance

  • Ask questions. Speak to a knowledgeable travel insurance advisor that understands your needs.
  • Be honest. It is important that you answer any questionnaire accurately to disclose any pre-existing conditions, and ensure you have the proper coverage suited specifically for you, so you can travel with peace of mind.
  • Build travel insurance into your travel plans. Purchasing travel insurance must be done in your home province. As you begin to consider your next destination, add travel insurance to your “to do” list.
  • Don’t base your decision on price alone. Look at what coverage is most appropriate for your circumstances and consider all different types of plans and levels of protection.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the eligibility and exclusions?
  • What is the pre-existing and stability clause?
  • What are the benefit limits?
  • How many days am I covered?
  • Is there a deductible?
  • Do they offer upfront payment if a claim occurs?

It’s important to remember that the intent of travel medical insurance is to treat emergency conditions, and return you to your home province for ongoing treatment once your medical condition is stabilized.

Emergency travel medical insurance may require completion of a medical health questionnaire depending on age. Medical questionnaires determine premium, NOT coverage.

    • Always answer questions related to your health accurately
    • If you aren’t sure how to answer, ask your physician to help you.

For more information resources on travel insurance and what you need to know before you travel, go to: https://www.caasco.com/insurance/resource-centre/travel.

About CAA South Central Ontario
For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, travel, insurance services and Member savings for our over 2 million Members.

SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario

For further information: Nadia Matos, Media & PR Consultant, P: (905) 771 3058, C: (416) 523-0663, E: nm12@caasco.ca; Kaitlynn Furse, Director of Communications, P: (905) 771-3194, C: (647) 227-7559, E: kfur@caasco.ca

Related Links

http://www.caasco.com/

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