Medical reasons make up one-third of Canadians’ travel claims

Poll also uncovers travel pet peeves, most important items to insure, claims barriers

NEWS PROVIDED BY

RBC Insurance

Highlights:

  • Canadians’ biggest pet peeves while travelling by air include bad travel etiquette, followed by flight delays and going through airport security. And when it comes to the worst things they’ve lost while travelling, the top three items are baggage, their passport and their travelling companion.
  • Over a quarter of Canadians have made an insurance claim as a result of something that happened to them while travelling, with visits to the doctor accounting for 33 per cent of those claims, followed by flight delays.
  • When asked the most important item to insure while on vacation, almost three-quarters had said themselves, followed by luggage, rental car and mobile phone.

TORONTO, June 19, 2019 /CNW/ – Tight airport security and flight delays can definitely be a downside to air travel, but the biggest pet peeve for over a quarter (27 per cent) of Canadians is bad travel etiquette, according to a recent RBC Insurance survey. And when it comes to the worst things they’ve lost along the way, the top three items are baggage (20 per cent), followed by their passport (13 per cent) and, interestingly, their travelling companion (6 per cent).

However, the overall pleasures of air travel seem to outweigh the pet-peeves. Canadians are often on the move, travelling outside of their home province by air roughly once every six to seven months.

Before you go, ensure you’re insured
Along with such frequent travel comes a greater opportunity for mishaps to occur that could result in expensive bills. In fact, one-quarter (26 per cent) of Canadians have made an insurance claim as a result of something that happened to them while travelling. One-third (33 per cent) of those claims were related to visits to a doctor, hospital or clinic, while flight delays account for one-quarter (24 per cent) of claims.

“Travel is a wonderful, educational experience and it’s great to see that Canadians are exploring the world outside their own province or country so frequently,” said Stacey Hughes-Brooks, Head of Travel, RBC Insurance. “However, given the data from the survey, a quarter of Canadians have needed to make an insurance claim so it’s best to make sure not only that you have coverage, but that you have enough.”

When asked the most important item to insure while on vacation, almost three-quarters (72 per cent) responded themselves – and this increases among travellers aged 55 and over (81 per cent) as compared to younger travellers (64 per cent). When it comes to insuring physical belongings, 12 per cent stated luggage is the next most important item, followed by a rental car (7 per cent) and mobile phone (5 per cent).

Barriers to filing travel insurance claims
Of those Canadians who have never made a travel insurance claim, 79 per cent have been lucky enough to say they have never been in a situation where they needed to make one. However, the remaining 21 per cent said they needed to file a claim but did not or were unable to do so. The top reasons for not making a claim include that it was too much of a hassle, they were underinsured, they incorrectly assumed they were covered by their insurance policy or their credit card or they didn’t know where to go.

“With so many credit cards offering travel insurance many Canadians may assume that they are covered if something happens while travelling,” adds Stacey. “It’s important that Canadians do their homework to understand their coverage otherwise they could find themselves out-of-pocket for minor or major expenses.”

RBC Insurance offers the following tips for Canadian travellers this year:

  • Consider purchasing travel insurance even if traveling within Canada.
  • Ensure you understand what your policy does and does not cover and what other coverages you may have through work or credit cards.
  • Label luggage by putting your name and contact information on the inside and outside of the bag.

About the RBC Insurance Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 23-27, 2019 on behalf of RBC Insurance. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 years and over were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance® offers a wide range of life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth, annuities and reinsurance advice and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC Insurance is among the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organizations, with approximately 2,900 employees who serve more than five million clients globally. For more information, please visit rbcinsurance.com.

SOURCE RBC Insurance

An unexpected medical emergency could be an ‘astronomical expense,’ agent warns

Read more

Money – Saving Strategies for Buying Travel Insurance

The excerpted article was written by By Barbara Peterson | Consumer Reports

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5 tips for navigating to the right choice for your trip

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If you’re planning a summer vacation, thinking about what could go wrong is probably the last thing you want to do.

But travel insurance could come in handy if your trip is canceled or interrupted due to a medical emergency, a natural disaster, or another unforeseen event. And deciding whether you need it—and if so, what kind—means planning for the worst.

The first question is whether you need a policy at all. The answer? Not always, according to Jeffrey Miller, a travel law attorney and professor at Florida Atlantic University, who says that much depends on your personal situation as well as the type of trip.

“The millennial going to Las Vegas doesn’t need travel insurance,” he says. “But if you’re in your 40s and have elderly parents who might fall ill and cause you to cut short your holiday, then yes, you should definitely get coverage.”

In general, it’s probably prudent to protect any trip that’s valued at more than a few thousand dollars. Beyond that, other factors to consider might be the age and health of the travelers and whether your itinerary takes you into remote or risky territory.

“Our No. 1 claim type is trip cancellation,” says Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection vice president Carol Mueller. So bear in mind that you don’t always need a Cadillac plan that covers everything from lost baggage to medical evacuation costs.

There are, of course, a multitude of plans to choose from, and you can narrow it down with the help of a travel agent or an online aggregator. Generally, policies fall into three categories—basic, midlevel, and premium—with coverage and prices rising accordingly.

Typically, premiums for comprehensive coverage range from 4 to 10 percent of the total tab of your trip. In recent years, however, travel insurers have come out with tailored policies at lower prices. For example, Berkshire Hathaway has a no-frills “Air Care” plan that just covers flight mishaps like delays or lost bags, starting at $26 for a simple round trip.

If you do decide you need to cover all bases, however, you might want a broad-based policy. Just bear in mind that it’s important to know exactly what’s covered.

Inquiries to travel insurance companies typically soar after high-profile events like acts of terrorism, or an outbreak of a disease like the Zika virus.  For example, calls to insurers spiked after the recent grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, according to the comparison site Insure My Trip. But as anxiety-provoking as events like these may be, under most travel insurance plans, they’re not considered valid grounds to get a full refund if you cancel your trip.

Here, five guidelines to make sure you get what you need without overpaying.

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Check Your Existing Insurance Coverage

You may already have some travel insurance as a perk of your credit card, but you’ll need to check.

Some credit card issuers offer coverage for car rental damage, lost luggage, or trip cancellation, but any protection they do offer is likely to come with some limits on the ultimate payout. For rental cars, your personal auto insurance may cover you, too.

Nonetheless, if you have credit card coverage, you may be able to get by with a less expensive general trip protection plan. And when it comes to baggage, know that coverage from travel insurers is typically considered secondary, meaning it will pay only for anything in excess of what you’re entitled to if you file a claim with your airline.

It’s also worthwhile to look into your health insurance and whether it will cover you when you’re on the road. Medicare, for example, won’t help if you’re not in the U.S., but other insurers might.

Aetna, for instance, covers policyholders on international trips, but the care is reimbursed as “out of network,” which means higher out-of-pocket costs. And if you have an accident and need to be airlifted to a hospital, the costs of care can skyrocket.

If you’re buying travel medical insurance, be aware, too, that some policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. Even when they do, they’re often dependent on your purchasing the policy close to the date when you bought the trip. (Some have a “look back” clause that can search your health records for as long as a year prior.)

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Comparison Shop

If your trip planning begins with booking an airplane ticket, you’ll almost certainly be prompted to buy trip protection from the airline before you hit the purchase button. Don’t rise to the bait, says Miller. “It’s better to seek out all the options before you buy.”

Whether or not you buy through them, websites like InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth provide free quotes from multiple insurers and make it easy to filter search results by your customized needs.

In many states, travel agents who sell trip insurance are licensed for that purpose, and their knowledge and experience can also help narrow your choices appropriately. Whatever source you use, think carefully about what benefits you actually need before putting your money down.

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Be Aware of Timing Provisions

Perhaps it’s hurricane season, and you’re having second thoughts about having paid in full for that upcoming beach holiday in the tropics. Can you take out an insurance policy to ease your worries?

You might be able to, but don’t wait until a particular storm threatening your vacation is powerful enough to have been christened, advises Berkshire Hathaway’s Mueller.

“When a hurricane is named, it is no longer an unknown event and no longer covered as a reason for cancellation” if you haven’t already purchased the policy, she says.

That’s not the only timing factor to consider. A terrorist attack in your intended destination could be grounds to cancel under some policies with a terrorism clause. But usually that coverage applies only if you’re traveling within 30 days of the event. If your trip is still six months away, the insurance won’t pay out simply because you no longer want to go.

In general, you may be able to buy some types of trip protection up to 24 hours before your departure, but waiting until that point might mean you can get only basic coverage like baggage loss or damage protection and emergency medical coverage, according to Allianz Travel Insurance.

For more comprehensive coverage that includes benefits like a pre-existing medical condition waiver or protection if a trip is canceled because of a terrorist attack or an airline bankruptcy, a policy typically must be purchased within 14 days of making the initial trip deposit.

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Look Into Annual Plans

If you’re taking more than two major trips per year, an annual plan could be a better deal than paying as you go with single-trip policies, according to Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com. Both types of plan can cover the same occurrences (trip cancellation, medical emergencies), but the year-long coverage could bring your pro-rated costs down.

For example, insurance provider April Travel Protection recently launched a customizable annual plan that covers an unlimited number of trips per year, both in the U.S. and abroad. Customers can choose their level of coverage for trip cancellation or interruption, medical care, evacuation, and other events.

Prices start at $75 for those under 30, rising up to $179 for those 60 years or older. This policy isn’t sold in all states, however, and the state of Washington doesn’t permit annual plans of any type to be sold there.

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Be Careful About CFAR Insurance

Every insurance policy has sits own specific rules about what triggers coverage. That’s why you should be skeptical of “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance, which sounds appealing but is pricey, frequently running 40 percent more than basic insurance. What’s more, this coverage often pays out only from 50 percent to 75 percent of your total expenses vs. the full cost paid by regular travel insurance.

Some states, such as New York, may limit or prohibit sales of CFAR policies. (The New York Department of Financial Services explains that because insurance is intended to protect against unforeseen events, CFAR can’t be considered real insurance since it allows the buyer to control the reasons for filing a claim.)

So keep in mind that trip insurance, like all other protection policies, is subject to state regulation, which can vary widely around the country. Check with your own state’s regulator if you’re concerned whether you can buy a particular type of coverage.

Snowbird Migration: 10 things to know about protecting your wealth

But a few years ago, while enjoying their time in Florida, Hilton started having double-vision and his eyelids were drooping. “I knew something was wrong, so I got to an emergency room right away,” says Hilton. After an angiogram, MRI and a CT scan confirmed an arterial blockage in his head, Hilton underwent emergency surgery.

“Doctors said getting him home to Canadian soil would be impossible,” recalls Deanna. “The pressure in his eye was so bad, that the doctor discouraged flying.” That meant that Hilton would have to have surgery in Florida. The couple knew that the medical bills would be exorbitant but breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they had purchased a travel medical policy that would cover this type of situation.

They were right.  The medical bills came in at half a million dollars. Hilton says thankfully, “because we thought ahead and purchased travel insurance, we paid nothing out of pocket.  That kind of bill would have been financially devastating otherwise.”

Hilton and Deanna’s story is strong proof that packing shouldn’t be the only thing on your snowbird to-do list.  For snowbirds, planning for a healthcare emergency shouldn’t be left out in the cold.

1. Don’t Count on Canadian Health Care

Your Canadian government health insurance plan, when you are outside of the country, may cover less than you think; and when it comes to emergency medical treatment, provincial healthcare may pay only minimal amounts — and at the same rates as they would pay for services in your home province.  “It might cover a few hundred dollars when the actual costs could be in the thousands,” says Anna Kavanagh, VicePresident of TD Insurance.  Just to put that into perspective—treating a broken leg in the U.S. can cost about $3500 USD 1, whereas a provincial plan may pay $50 for an outpatient hospital visit 2.

2. Get Insured

The costs of medical care while outside of Canada can add up, even for small incidents. Depending on the policy, insurance can cover everything from prescription medication to hospital care. Travel insurance for long trips can get pricey, so shop around. “What you really need to look for is the duration of coverage to match the duration of your trip,” says Kavanagh. “You want to ensure that you are covered for the full duration you’re away.” Deanna and Hilton both have coverage through their former employers for being out of the province for two months at a time. They make sure they top up their winter stay in Florida with coverage that kicks in after their employer’s coverage ends— making it cost efficient. Ensure you bring all those policy documents with you when you cross the border, as well as proof of when you left Canada—like a boarding pass, or even a receipt from the border duty-free store.

3. Cover It All

A policy that covers you for $1,000,000 may seem high, but if it’s not cost prohibitive, consider buying as much coverage as you can.  An annual policy, which would be effective for a year, may be less expensive than a policy that covers you for a single trip.  “You can buy an annual plan and that will not only cover you for your winter trip, but also a summer vacation.” relays Kavanagh.  “It will protect you year after year, if you choose to renew.” Some annual plans limit the number of days you are covered while out of the country, so if you need to top up the number of days on your annual plan for an extended trip, be sure to contact your insurance company before you leave.

4. Disclose Everything

When it comes to insurance, honesty is the only policy.  Even though it might cost more to purchase insurance if you disclose previous or existing health issues, it will minimize the risk of your insurer denying your claims. “If you spend the time to purchase a travel policy, you want to know you’re covered,” says Kavanagh. Disclose any and all conditions, injuries or symptoms that had given rise to any form of treatment or medication in the two years before taking out a travel medical insurance policy.  Kavanagh also advises you tell the insurer if you will be doing anything adventurous on your trip, like bungee jumping or mountain climbing, as some insurers will not cover what they consider hazardous.

5. Not Going to the US?

Many snowbirds are heading to Mexico or other sunny spots outside North America.  Even though the cost of getting medical treatments may be relatively inexpensive in some countries, a travel medical insurance policy may still be a good idea.  A visit to the doctor might only cost $35 in some countries, but it could cost $50,000 or more if you need to be airlifted back home.

6. Know Before You Go

Wherever you go, do a little research ahead of time to identify services that you might need in an emergency.  Locate a nearby clinic, hospital and know what to dial.  911 will access help in the U.S.  But in Mexico or elsewhere the emergency number may be different.

7. B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Prescriptions)

If you have prescription medications, some provinces will allow you to obtain a 200-day supply of medication for travel purposes.  “I would advise travelers to bring enough medication to last the duration of the trip,” says Kavanagh. “Sometimes, outside of Canada, dosages may be different or certain medications may not be available.” Always bring a copy of your prescriptions with you. If you do need to fill a prescription at a U.S. pharmacy, you’ll need a local doctor to write the prescription, but you’ll know what you need. For ease of customs clearance, have your medication close at hand, and in clearly labelled containers.

8. The Power of Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is essential to allow someone else to make decisions on the medical care you need. While out of country, it is important to have your powers of attorney up-to-date. Additionally, you may consider executing the powers of attorney in the state where you will be staying to ensure that they will be recognized.

9. Good Things Shouldn’t Come To An End—Especially Health Care

Different provinces have different rules for how long you can be out of the province before you lose your government health insurance benefits.  If you are out of province for a prolonged period, you may have to reinstate your benefits by living in your province for a pre-determined period of time.  Make sure you know the rules and are able to prove you have fulfilled your residency requirements.

10. Writing It Off

Come tax time, health insurance, including out-of-province travel medical insurance premiums, may be eligible as part of the medical tax credit —a nice perk. You can include the premiums for extended health and dental programs up to a limit based on a ceiling or a percentage of income—whichever is less. Ask your insurer for a receipt stating the cost of your medical coverage (excluding any trip cancellation or lost baggage coverage).  Medical expenses you incurred outside of the country may also be eligible.

Bottom Line

Since even a small accident can mean a significant medical bill in the U.S., Deanna always makes sure she and her husband are insured, even if just going cross-border shopping for a day.  “We leave our insurance information with family members, keep our own copies with us, and carry family phone numbers with us wherever we go,” says Deanna, “better safe than sorry.”

5 Travel Packing Tips

5 Travel Packing Tips

Corey Deeth | Canada.com

Most will agree, the worst part of planning any travel is figuring out what to pack for vacation. Stuffing a week’s worth of clothing and toiletries in a small luggage can feel near impossible. Start your vacation off on the right foot with a few helpful tips on how to pack a suitcase.

Make a list

Obvious as it may be, creating a travel packing list a week in advance can ensure you don’t forget any of the essentials. Organize your list by clothes, toiletries, first aid, technology etc. Afterward, review to see if anything can be removed. Does your hotel offer shampoo and tooth paste? Take it off your list! Will your travel partner be packing a hair dryer? Avoid doubling up. This process will make sure you stick to the essentials and leave the excess at home.

Pack a smart wardrobe

Stick to a few staple pieces and reduce the number of items you pack by using coordinates that can be paired to create multiple fresh looks. Consider the duration of your trip, climate of destinations and activities in store. Then select those pieces from your wardrobe you can mix and match to go from daytime casual to evening glam without packing your whole closet.

Pack empty bags

Want to keep clean clothes fresh in your suitcase the whole duration of your trip? Empty bags are your answer. Not only are they useful to separate clean from dirty and wet from dry, they can be a life saver in protecting clothes from any potential toiletry spills. Keeping your wardrobe fresh your whole trip, empty bags should be a must have on your essential packing list.

Know your limits

Don’t get caught at the airport with luggage too big or too heavy. Review the limit guidelines set out by your airline for your carry on and checked baggage. Be sure to measure and weigh your suitcase before packing to avoid any unpleasant surprises the day of your trip.

Nail your carry on

What to pack in a carry on? We’ve got your answer! Ditch those snacks and magazines and opt for a more useful purpose. Pack your travel documents and valuables for safe keeping, and a phone charger just in case your battery life doesn’t quite make the hotel.  Tossing in a change of clothes, toothbrush and some face wipes can save you in case of lost luggage, while freeing up some real estate in your checked bags.

It’s smooth sailing once you’ve got your travel packing down.

Source: Canada.com

Make sure to pack your medical travel insurance

Diane Piacente | The Chronicle Herald

Do you purchase medical travel Insurance when you travel or take a chance and hope that nothing will happen?

By now you’re probably thinking you’ve had enough of winter and a quick “fly and flop” somewhere on a warm sandy beach would be just the thing to lift your spirits.

Before you make that reservation, make sure you have coverage. Maybe you and your family are covered by a medical plan through your employer; however, it could also be that you’re retired, are self-employed or recently divorced and you were previously covered under your spouse’s plan and now you’re not. Believe me when I say it’s crucial to have insurance because a stint in a hospital out of country could bankrupt you. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

A Canadian relative recently required emergency surgery while wintering in Florida. After the operation, she was flown back home to Canada on a stretcher along with two attending nurses. The total bill was over $350,000 USD. Thankfully, she had private medical coverage which took care of the costs. Can you just imagine getting an invoice like that if you’re not covered?

Perhaps you don’t need insurance since you don’t really travel anywhere very far from home but what if you decide to jump in the car and take the family skiing at Jay Peak one weekend? I know it’s just a skip and a hop across the border but it is in another country. If you or a family member should have a serious medical issue while you’re there, you could just be transferred across the border (at your cost) but what if immediate emergency surgery is required or you need to be stabilized before the transfer?

While Medicare will generally be accepted in lieu of payment for some of the costs, it may only cover just a fraction of the total bill. Even when travelling out of province, prescription drugs, ground and air ambulance services are generally not covered outside of one’s home province or territory.

And if you’re getting close to retirement and dreaming of moving to a wonderful sunny paradise the other side of the world, make sure you budget for medical health insurance which can be quite pricey for expats. Living off the grid, drinking at the tiki hut with the locals and lying on the beach may seem like paradise, but don’t take a chance and go without medical insurance. A stint in the hospital will set you back thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Think that you can just come back to Canada if you need an operation or other procedures and as a Canadian citizen you will automatically have medicare health coverage right away? Think again.

Depending on which province in Canada you return to, you could have to wait up to three months to qualify for coverage, that’s even though you’re still filing income taxes in Canada on your retirement income. In Quebec, the RAMQ is inflexible on this point as I recently found out after I enquired for a relative. The RAMQ’s advice was to get temporary medical insurance while waiting for that card in the mail. Sounds easy enough, but insurance companies have about eight or nine medical conditions that will disqualify you from any coverage at all.

In addition, if you have any pre-existing conditions and have not been stable for the past six months, private insurance companies will not cover you for related treatment. I asked someone at the RAMQ if they had a Plan B for tax-paying Canadians who needed healthcare right away upon their return from abroad but who don’t qualify for interim private health insurance. I was told, “no Plan B”, Quebecers should already know that if they spend more than 183 days out of the country, they lose their medicare coverage until they re-qualify after three months. If they require treatment, they will be out-of-pocket for the costs.

For your peace of mind, get travel medical insurance and that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. Bon voyage!

By Diane Piacente

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