There are cases where buying travel insurance might leave you bereft of coverage. Here are a few examples.
Canadian snowbirds who were lucky enough to escape property damage from Hurricane Irma will still face higher costs as insurance providers jack up premiums and condo associations levy special assessments, say Florida insurance experts.
“We’re probably looking at an across-the-board 15 to 20 per cent increase in property insurance costs over the next year,” says Brad Hubbard, the Tampa owner of an insurance agency and an engineering consulting firm specializing in flood risk.
He said the higher premiums could come from greater insurance losses and reinsurance companies determining there is a statistical increase in the risk that future storms will be more frequent and severe.
Hurricane Irma is expected to be one of the most costly storms in history, with losses estimated at $20 billion to $65 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars), including up to $50 billion in the U.S., according to risk modelling software company AIR Worldwide.
Additional insurance costs will be borne by all insured Florida homeowners, including the estimated 500,000 Canadians who own Florida properties.
Condo owners could also face special assessments if their building sustains heavy damage that isn’t fully covered by insurance or its policy has a high deductible.
“Your condo can be fine but at the end of the year you could receive a bill that says $3,500,” added Martin Rivard, an insurance broker in Boynton Beach originally from Shawinigan, Que.
The situation could be especially acute in areas like the Florida Keys, where 25 per cent of homes were destroyed by heavy winds and storm surge.
“I’m hoping that Irma was a wake-up call,” he said in an interview.
The average price of homeowner’s insurance in high-risk wind areas of Florida is $2,055 or $1,500 if you buy through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run provider. Flood coverage premiums average $450, providing coverage of $250,000 on the structure and $100,000 for the contents, says the Insurance Information Institute.
Canadians are eligible to buy homeowner’s insurance from Citizens Property Insurance and flooding insurance from the federal National Flood Insurance Programs. Only 16 per cent of Americans purchase flood insurance and less than 10 per cent have no insurance at all.
Canadians were eager to buy insurance after Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida in 1992, but Rivard said the concern has waned because the state hasn’t experienced a big storm in about a decade.
Renee and Dino Picchioni are relieved their mobile home north of Tampa was spared because they didn’t carry any insurance.
“It’s too expensive to pay for insurance down there for four months out of the year,” Renee said from Windsor, Ont.
Since they don’t own the land where their mobile home is parked, the couple was prepared to walk away if the unit was destroyed.
Rivard expects many others will do the same if their insurance doesn’t cover repair costs.
Realtor Jass Tremblay of Marathon said most of the Canadian customers she knows in the Keys don’t have insurance. While people with a mortgage are required to have insurance that covers wind, they can roll the dice if they pay cash.
Tremblay, a Quebec City native, said she hopes those without coverage would have put money aside so they can face such a disaster.
“Some of them lost everything. They’re probably panicking,” Tremblay said from Deerfield Beach where she holed up during the storm.
Brent Leathwood, a realtor in Sarasota who is originally from Burlington, Ont., said about 80 per cent of his Canadian customers are fully insured even though tougher building codes after Hurricane Andrew have helped to minimize damage.
“Canadians tend to be, I would say, sober and pragmatic in their assessments of things and they’re a little less inclined to take big, crazy risks like some of the people in the States are.”
Florida’s insurance system has been strengthened since Hurricane Andrew as the number of people living in coastal areas surged 27 per cent between 2000 and 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We feel that we’re in the best position we can be in at this time,” said Michael Peltier, spokesman for Florida’s public insurance provider.
Canadian gov’t has issued an advisory urging residents to avoid non-essential travel to the areas affected by Irma
The Travel Advice and Advisories are the Government of Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information. They give you important advice to help you to make informed decisions and to travel safely while you are abroad.
Will the storm affect Canada?
The storm will have no direct impact on Canada, according to Global News’ chief meteorologist, Anthony Farnell. But Farnell notes that Canadians travelling may be affected.
“If you are a Canadian travelling or know anyone travelling through the Caribbean, Cuba or Florida this storm will directly impact you in the next week,” he said. “Landfall is looking more likely in Florida this weekend but a continued shift west and south in the track means that a landfall in Cuba is also possible.”
No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip, and again shortly before you leave. Safety and security conditions may change between the date you book your travel and your departure date.
See Travel Advice and Advisories – FAQ for more information.
Choose your destination below to see regularly updated information on:
- local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
- entry and exit requirements
- local laws and culture
- possible health hazards and health restrictions
- natural hazards and climate
- where to find help while you are travelling abroad
If you plan to go abroad, even on a day trip to the United States, you should purchase the best travel insurance you can afford before you leave Canada. Your travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will help you avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada. If you are flying, being insured for flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage and document replacement will save you from major disruptions and additional costs. If you are travelling by car, make sure you have driver and vehicle coverage in case you have an accident abroad.
You can purchase travel insurance through your travel agent, insurance broker or your employer’s insurance provider. Your credit card company may also offer travel and health insurance. Regardless of how you obtain travel insurance, it is very important that you understand the eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, limitations, restrictions and exclusions of the policy.
Why you need travel insurance
Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial health authority. Hospitals and clinics in some countries have been known to refuse to treat patients who become ill or who have had an accident and who do not have adequate travel health insurance or the money to pay their bills. You could face years of debt paying off the costs of treatment for an illness or accident you suffered abroad. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.
Travel advisories and insurance policies
No matter where in the world you intend to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories twice, once when you are planning your trip and again shortly before you leave. If a Travel Advisory is issued for your destination, after you make your travel arrangements but before or during your trip, it may affect your travel health insurance or trigger your trip cancellation insurance. Make sure you understand any terms and conditions in the policy in regard to travel advice and advisories from the Government of Canada.
Some insurance companies will not honour medical claims made for injuries suffered in a country for which the Government of Canada has issued an official Travel Advisory. Coverage for injuries resulting from war may also be limited. Insurance policies often have exclusion clauses stipulating regions and/or activities that will not be covered.
Selecting travel health insurance
Carefully research your needs and verify the terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and requirements of your insurance policy before you leave Canada.
When assessing a travel health insurance plan, you should ask a lot of questions. Does the plan provide continuous coverage for the duration of your stay abroad and after you return? Does it offer coverage that is renewable from abroad and for the maximum period of stay? Does the company have an in-house, worldwide, 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number in English and/or translation services for health care providers in your destination country? Does it pay for foreign hospitalization for illness or injury and related medical costs and provide up-front payment of bills or cash advances, so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket?
Be sure to ask whether the plan covers pre-existing medical conditions. Ask the company to explain the definition, limitations and restrictions of any pre-existing conditions and tests and treatments you may have undergone.
- Make sure you get a written agreement that your pre-existing medical condition is covered, or you could find your claim “null and void” under a pre-existing condition clause.
- Be aware that the agreement must also include a stability clause stating that for you to be covered for any pre-existing medical conditions you must have no changes to or new medical conditions, symptoms or medications during the stability period prior to your trip.
- The agreement should include a compassion clause stating that an inaccurate statement may not invalidate the entire policy, and a change of health clause.
And ensure that the plan provides for medical evacuation to Canada or the nearest location with appropriate medical care and pays for a medical escort (health care provider) to accompany you to and from your destination.
Ensure that deductible costs are clearly explained in the plan. Plans with 100-percent coverage are more expensive but may save money in the long run. The plan could cover health care provider visits and prescription medicines, or emergency dental care or emergency transportation, such as ambulance services. Check whether it excludes or significantly limits coverage for certain regions or countries you may visit.
Finally, ensure that the plan covers the preparation and return of your remains to Canada if you die abroad.
Gabrielle had insurance that lapsed three weeks before she was involved in an accident. Her Canadian family had to raise $300,000 over a three-day period to cover the costs of medical treatment and evacuation. Fortunately, she survived, but her family is left with a hefty debt to repay.
Meeting the terms of your insurance policy
It is your responsibility to know and understand the terms of your insurance policy. Read the fine print carefully and ask for help, if necessary, to fully understand the eligibility requirements and definitions, terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the policy.
The information you provide must be accurate and complete. If you have any questions about the application and your medical history, including prescription drugs, tests and other treatments, contact the insurance company and ask them to clarify the issue in writing.
Obtain approval from your insurer before undergoing medical treatment. Routine health checkups, non-emergency care and cosmetic surgery are rarely covered by travel health insurance. Insurance companies may also exclude coverage for mental health disorders, drug- or alcohol-related incidents, or extreme sporting activities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing.
Get a detailed report and invoice from the doctor or hospital before leaving the country where you have received medical treatment. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get the proper paperwork from thousands of kilometres away. Always remember to submit the original receipts for medical services or prescriptions received abroad. Keep a copy of the documents for your files.
Carry details of your insurance policy and tell your travel agent, a travel companion, and a friend or relative at home how to contact your insurer.
Source: Government of Canada
1. Don’t Congregate.
Every major airline these days uses a numbered or zone system to help with their boarding process. Zone 1 boards before Zone 2, etc. And yet, as soon as the announcement is made that boarding is beginning, people from all zones bunch together in front of the jet bridge. That means that everyone in the first boarding zones has to weave through everyone in Zone 7, which just unnecessarily slows everything down. If you’re patient, step aside and wait your turn, you’ll actually get on the plane faster. Don’t worry – they won’t leave without you.
2. Bring The Right Sized Bags.
Nobody likes to check bags, me included. Not only is there an extra cost associated with checking your luggage, there is also the wasted time standing around the carousel waiting for your plane to be unloaded – that is, if your bag wasn’t somehow left behind. But because no one wants to check bags, that doesn’t mean you should jam everything you possibly can into a carry-on that then won’t fit in the overhead bins on the plane. No one wants to wait behind your in the aisle as you try and employ brute force trying to cram your bag in. If your bag is a little over-sized, then use this trick: before you get on the plane, go up to the gate agent and ask her to gate check the bag for you. Not only is this free, many times they will unload your bag plane side after your flight lands.
3. Sit Quickly
When you do get on the plane, make your way to your seat, pop your carry-on in the bin or under your seat (or both) and then take a seat. Ideally, you have already grabbed what you wanted with you on the flight before you got on the plane so that you aren’t that person who is blocking traffic in the aisle trying to pull our your computer or magazines. Another pro tip is that as soon as you board, start scanning the bins near where your seat is to see if there is room for your bag above where you’re sitting. If not, try and find a spot along the way. That way, you can pick it up as you’re unloading from the plane. The only caveat is that you should never put your bag in the bin above the first row of a plan or any that face a bulkhead because that will force those passengers to go find a place for their bags behind them – which becomes a major hassle for them and slows everyone down. Be kind and don’t be that person.
4. Be Ready to Stand
If you happen to prefer sitting in an aisle seat, you know you’re going to have people sitting inside you either in a window or middle seat. If you’re the first to get to your row, pay attention to see when your seat-mates approach. When they do, politely stand up and take a step back to allow them to enter and get in their seats. Don’t be rude by standing in front of the row or, worse, keep sitting and force the person to squeeze around you.
5. Watch Your Diet
The times that anyone raves about the food on an airplane are few and far between. So it’s understandable that people like to bring their own food on the plane with them. But think about the people sitting next to you when you make your choice. I have had the extremely unpleasant experience of sitting next to someone who brought their greasy cheeseburger topped with onions with a side of garlic fries on the plane with them. Boy did that reek. While we are at it – keep the cologne and perfume to a minimum – it’s kind of tough in tight quarters. Don’t be that person.
6. Watch Your Tongue
It’s important to be respectful of your seat-mates when it comes to whether you can talk their ear off or not on a plane. Watch for the clues to give you a sense of whether someone wants to strike up a conversation. Some times I use my plane time to recover from a few hard days on the road or to prepare for an upcoming meeting and I have no interest in chatting. Other times I’m all for killing the time with a good conversation. It just depends. So you can always say hello to your seat-mate, but if they then close their eyes or pull out a book, be respectful and give them some space.
7. Keep Your Arms and LegsTo Yourself
Nothing is worse than sitting in the middle seat. So be kind to that poor person by giving them full access to their two arms rests. The two outside armrests belong to the window and aisle seat. But the person in the middle deserves their own space, so watch your elbows and arms so that you’re not forcing them to jockey for position. If you can squeeze in without disturbing them, fine – but they have priority. If you have the middle, you space ends at the edge of the armrest, no poking your seat mates in the sides with your elbows. The same goes for your legs, no crossing the line between the seats – we don’t care if you have a wide stance.
8. Don’t be Surprised You Landed
Unloading a plan should be the easiest thing in the world. It starts with everyone in front and works backwards from there. But it’s never that simple. There is always someone who seems surprised when it’s time for their row to get and leave. It’s pretty clear when the plane lands – you shouldn’t be surprised it’s time to get off . Watch watch’s happening around you. As soon as the plane parks, and you hear the ding in the cabin, get your stuff together unbuckle your belt, and get ready to grab your bag and go. Even better: if you are sitting on the aisle, stand up to give your seat-mates some extra room to get ready. Then keep standing slightly behind the row until they get up and leave as a way to block the more aggressive people behind you who might try to squeeze ahead of your row. You know whom I’m talking about. While everyone will respect the person who is late for a connecting flight, just ask and we’ll let you go ahead. We’re all in the same boat, or plane as it was.
If everyone would heed these eight simple etiquette tips, all of your flights would load faster, deplane faster, and we’d all find the experience of flying that much less stressful. So try and keep these tips in mind the next trip you take and we can begin to make this kind of behavior the norm rather than the exception.
Jim is the author of the best-selling book, “Great CEOs Are Lazy” – grab your copy to today on Amazon!
As B.C. roads are expected to be busy with the unofficial start of the summer road trip season this May long weekend, ICBC and police are asking drivers to slow down and maintain a safe speed now and throughout summer.
Crashes and injuries increase on long weekends because of many factors, including unsafe speed as people may be rushing to reach their destination. Last year over the Victoria Day long weekend, 490 people were hurt in 1,900 crashes in B.C.
That’s why ICBC and police are launching an education and enforcement campaign to tie in with Victoria Day weekend. Province-wide police will be out on B.C. roads targeting high-risk driving behaviours and Speed Watch volunteers will be set up in communities across B.C. to encourage drivers to slow down.
Here are ICBC’s top driving tips to keep you safe this long weekend and all summer:
Let others into your lane: Don’t speed up as someone is trying to pass you. Help the other driver get into your lane by slowing down and making room.
Slow down: Posted speed limits are intended for ideal conditions. On uneven or wet roads, and in bad weather conditions, slow down and increase your following distance to at least four seconds.
Plan ahead: Allow extra time to get to your destination. Avoid rushing by planning your route in advance. Be realistic about your travel time. If you’re going to be later than expected, be patient and accept the delay.
Scan intersections: The majority of crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists happen in intersections, so it’s important to approach all intersections cautiously.
Prepare your vehicle: Make sure your vehicle’s ready for the trip. Don’t drive with badly worn or under-inflated tires. Keep the wiper fluid topped up for clearer visibility.
Watch for other road users: As the days get longer and the weather gets nicer, pay extra attention to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Leave your phone alone: No call or text is worth risking your life or the lives of others. Remember using a phone at a stop light is prohibited. If you have to take a call, pull over when it’s safe; stay focused on the road and keep the conversation brief. Make sure you’re focused on driving before re-entering traffic.
- Last year, 330 people were injured in 1,200 crashes throughout the Lower Mainland over the Victoria Day long weekend.
- Last year, 52 people were injured in 290 crashes throughout the Vancouver Island over the Victoria Day long weekend.
- Last year, 69 people were injured in 270 crashes throughout the Southern Interior over the Victoria Day long weekend.
- Last year, 38 people were injured in 140 crashes throughout the North Central region over the Victoria Day long weekend.
*Victoria Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to Victoria Day to midnight Monday. Injured victims and crashes from 2016 ICBC data.