The need to understand travel health insurance coverage

The need to understand travel health insurance coverage

As 54 per cent of Canadians prepare to travel this already frigid winter, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) is releasing the results of its most recent traveller survey that reveals that 26 per cent of Canadians are unsure of their coverage when they travel.

Ninety per cent of respondents make mobile phones a part of life even on holiday, but these modern conveniences are increasingly a source of injury with 13 per cent overall (and 18 per cent of millennials) reporting that they’ve been injured while posing precariously for selfies.

“Everyone deserves a carefree vacation and travel health insurance is designed to pay for unexpected medical emergencies,” said Will McAleer, Travel Health Insurance Association. “Understanding what activities might impact coverage, whether it be climbing a mountain or consuming more alcohol than usual, is part of what’s required for a good getaway. With Ontario being the first province to eliminate coverage for out-of-country medical expenses, it’s more important than ever to know what is and isn’t covered by insurance policies.”

Starting on January 1, 2020, OHIP is changing its out of country travel health coverage for Ontarians and will no longer provide any coverage for travellers (aside from kidney dialysis). According to the survey, 45 per cent of Canadians believe provincial health insurance covers some medical expenses incurred while travelling abroad. These changes underscore the importance of consumer awareness and understanding of their travel health insurance coverage.

Being aware of what is or isn’t covered under a policy, or federal regulations related to marijuana, will go a long way in ensuring that hard-earned holidays aren’t jeopardized either by unexpected medical expenses or criminal changes.

Twenty per cent of survey respondents admit to having consumed more than five drinks in two hours on holiday while 31 per cent of millennial males have climbed mountains while travelling. And, 21 per cent of respondents believe it’s acceptable to travel with marijuana packed in their luggage.

The survey also revealed that Canadians are more likely to travel domestically this year and less likely to travel to the US due to the exchange rate (58 per cent) and current political climate (48 per cent).

Wherever Canadians plan to travel this winter, they are more likely to have a carefree holiday and navigate unexpected medical issues with appropriate travel health insurance. Will McAleer recommends that all travellers familiarize themselves with the following key elements of travel health insurance:

  1. Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies.
  2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions.
  3. 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? Find a policy that is specifically tailored to your trip.
  4. Know your rights – The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities will help provide all travelling Canadians with additional confidence in their travel insurance purchase knowing their company is supporting their rights as a consumer and making them aware of their responsibilities.

About the Survey
The online survey, conducted in October 2019, polled 1,053 respondents, ranging from ages 18 to 60+ across Canada.

About the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA)
Founded in 1998, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. THiA is the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canada and is engaged in public education and issues relating to regulatory affairs and member communications.

SOURCE Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA)

Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA)

Blink’s proactive travel insurance moves to Canada

By GlobalData Financial Services

Canada Insurance Giant Manulife has turned to Irish travel insurtech Blink to help it connect to younger, digitally-savvy customers. Blink has established itself through offering proactive travel insurance to customers as it automatically rebooks cancelled flights. It has a staggered system where customers delayed for three hours gain access to an airport lounge, then a hotel room if it’s over six hours and a new flight if it is cancelled or a flight connection is missed.

This is an emerging trend within the travel insurance sector, with competitor Fizzy offering a similar product to customers flying to the USA, though that only covers rebooking flights for severe delays or cancellations.

The Canada market represents a good opportunity for Blink, as only 28% of the population currently holds an annual travel insurance policy, according to GlobalData statistics. This compares to 35% in the UK and 38% in Ireland, where Blink originates, which suggests that there is room for growth within the Canadian market.

Manulife turning to Blink shows the interest from top insurers in real-time flight insurance continues to be strong, following Axa’s launching a partnership with Fizzy in 2017. With travel insurance penetration rates low around the world (an average of 27% of consumers globally hold an annual travel insurance policy) – especially among younger customers – convenient and digital policies like these should help to engage customers. It is also a continuation on the trend of leading insurers turning to start-ups to help them with innovation, and specifically in connecting to younger customers.

Our survey data showing that 72% of Canadians travel without an annual insurance policy suggests that this is a real opportunity for Blink to expand its global reach. The start-up has already been backed by European Insurance giant, Zurich, and it looks well set to continue disrupting the travel market.

Source: Verdict

A cancelled flight doesn’t have to spell doom for your trip

A cancelled flight doesn’t have to spell doom for your trip

How to Handle Flight Cancellations Like a Pro

Source: Joe Sills | Travel Chanel 

Anger, desperation, panic—they’re the range of emotions rippling through your body when you hear the most dreaded news in travel, “Your flight has been cancelled.”

At first, the sentence seems like an impossibility. Airlines have hundreds of aircraft, right? Even if yours goes down for the count, they could just send another one, right? Sadly, the airline industry doesn’t always work that way. For major airlines, substituting malfunctioning aircraft for another plane already at a major hub is standard procedure; but often, travellers on budget airlines or those flying out of smaller airports find themselves facing a cold reality. Bags packed and beds booked, a flight cancellation can leave you stranded at the terminal, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Still, all is not lost if you find yourself stood up at the gate. There are a few ways to salvage your vacation or business trip by handling flight cancellations like a pro.

1. Rebook on the Next Flight

This is the most common option available to stranded flyers. When a flight is cancelled, airlines use this go-to move to placate as many passengers as possible, though it often means waiting in long customer service lines or finding yourself listening to hold music for hours. You can try to circumvent those lines by accessing customer service via Twitter or email, though those services will occasionally boot you back to the line. Still, if you’re going to be stuck in a line, you might as well @ that airline to save some time.

2. Ditch the Flight for Another Airline

I once found myself stranded at MIA one evening with a desperate need to be in London the very next day. Options were limited: The budget airline that cancelled on me wouldn’t have another flight out of South Florida for days, while major airlines were charging incredible rates to hop across the pond on less than two hours’ notice. After scouring the desks of seemingly every Europe-based airline for an hour, I finally settled on a compromise by grabbing a full refund from the budget flight and applying it to the difference on a last-minute Air France ticket.
The compromise got me to London on time. I was late by just one hour, but it came at a cost. (WOW Air and Air France have totally different pricing structures.)
If you’re short on time and your budget allows, play the field by booking a last-minute flight online. By booking on my smartphone, I skipped a line full of similarly stranded passengers at the service counter. (Google Flights is a lifesaver.) Just be sure to book directly through the airline’s website if you’re cutting it extremely close on time, as budget booking sites can save you money, but sometimes take a few critical minutes to process reservations.
Polite passengers with status on major airlines have had luck being rebooked on another airline. Though you’ll need to be a wizard with words and have some pull to get it done, this bonus route is worth a try for the qualified.

3. Wait It Out, and Get Compensated for Your Time

Airlines know the worst possible thing they can do to a passenger on the ground is to cancel a flight. As such, they typically avoid the process at all costs—and there’s a reason for that. If your flight is cancelled, airlines receive tremendous pressure to compensate you for the inconvenience.
Legally, U.S. travel laws only require airlines to reimburse you monetarily if you are involuntarily bumped from a flight, but that doesn’t mean your inconvenience is worthless.
Sometimes, whether for financial reasons or because your schedule is flexible, the best way to conquer a flight cancellation is to wait it out. If you find yourself in this unenviable position, make a phone call to your airline immediately and attempt to arrange for compensation via frequent flyer miles and hotel reimbursement. (A travel companion of mine once received a 48-hour vacation in Hong Kong courtesy of American Airlines.)
Remember the golden rule of customer service: Thou shalt be polite. Airlines are most likely to pay for your accommodations if the cancellation is due to a mechanical fault with the aircraft, but politeness goes a long way in any flight cancellation scenario, especially if you kindly remind them that you are now in a real pinch.
If you’ve booked your flight with a credit card, you may also be eligible for travel delay reimbursement. The Points Guy has a thrifty list of cards that offer this protection—usually $500 per ticket if you’ve booked the flight with that card. Notable entries include the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve Card, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Citi Prestige Card. Downer alert: Claiming your cash will involve a phone call to your credit card company.
That $500 can go a long way towards making the best of a long delay between flights by covering the cost of a luxurious Airbnb or a night or two out on the town.

The Cold, Hard Truth

Flight cancellations are one of travel’s most unexpected and disappointing disasters. However, if you’re quick on your feet and clever with your calendar, you can turn a frustrating experience into a favourable situation.
Edited for ILSTV

Ottawa criticizes Ontario for eliminating out-of-country health insurance

TORONTO — Eliminating out-of-country health insurance could jeopardize access to necessary medical care and become a hardship for some travellers, the federal health minister warned Wednesday in a letter to her Ontario counterpart.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the move announced by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government will hurt people who travel regularly to the United States.

“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,” Petitpas Taylor said in her letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. “Even modest increases could pose a hardship for some individuals.”

The program currently covers out-of-country in-patient services up to $400 per day for a higher level of care, such as intensive care, as well as up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services.

In May, Elliott announced the decision to scrap the program following a six-day public consultation, saying it is very costly and does not provide value to taxpayers.

The change is expected to come into effect Oct. 1.

A spokesperson for Elliott confirmed Wednesday that the government intends to wind down the program and strongly encourages people to purchase travel health insurance.

“The program’s coverage is very limited with only five cents of every dollar claimed,” Travis Kann said in a statement. “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.”

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

On Wednesday, Petitpas Taylor stressed that if Ontario moves ahead with its plan, it will be the first jurisdiction in the country to provide no coverage for emergency hospital and physician services received out of country.

The minister said this would be “inconsistent” with the Canada Health Act, which stipulates that all Canadians are entitled to continuing coverage of their provincial health plans when they are temporarily absent from home.

“Ontario’s approach will mean that Ontario residents will have to cover the costs of care out of pocket, should they require medical attention while travelling,” she said.

Opposition politicians have said ending the program will hurt frequent travellers. In April, NDP health critic France Gelinas wrote Petitpas Taylor and asked her to intervene and stop Ontario from eliminating the coverage.

“I am urging you to follow through on the prime minister’s commitment … where he affirmed the federal government’s responsibility to ensure provinces follow the requirements of the Canada Health Act,” she said.

The Canadian Snowbird Association has urged the government not to make the move and said it would not only impact seniors who travel south during the winter months, but also cross-border shoppers and anyone planning a family vacation.

In her 2018 report, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said the Ministry of Health processed an average of 88,000 out-of-country claims per year over a five-year period and paid an average of $127 per claim.

Lysyk also noted the high administrative costs of the program, but said they arise because staff must check varying physician services fee rates and process claims manually. She recommended that the government seek ways to reduce administrative costs by adopting a single reimbursement rate for all health services obtained out-of-country.

She also recommended the government bolster efforts to inform Ontarians of the limit on reimbursement rates under the program and on the need to purchase private health insurance before travelling.


Most Canadians leave their families exposed when it comes to travel insurance

TORONTO, June 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — While 72 per cent of Canadians had some form of travel or medical insurance for recent travels, most leave their family under-insured, according to a survey released today by The study showed over one half of Canadians (52 per cent) would not think to purchase insurance for their university or high school-aged children travelling abroad this summer.

“This oversight is not surprising and brings attention to assumptions around coverage Canadians often make regarding purchasing travel insurance for themselves and family members,” said Anne Marie Thomas from

Coverage misconceptions

Of the respondents who were not likely to purchase travel insurance for their next trip, 36 per cent believe they are covered by their employee benefits and one in five believe they have insurance through their credit card. Additionally, over 37 per cent think they have provincial coverage for health insurance when travelling outside of Canada.

“The general assumptions being made by many Canadians on what coverages they believe are in place or that are available to them illustrate an overall lack of awareness that could prove to be quite costly,” said Anne Marie Thomas. “Check with your credit cards, employee benefits and provincial insurance to see what coverage you actually have before you or a family member takes their next trip.”

Additional misconceptions of available insurance coverage

  • One in five Canadians are unaware of lost luggage insurance
  • 24 per cent of Canadians are unaware of illness insurance
  • 43 per cent are unaware of insurance for missing connecting flights
  • 55 per cent are unaware of severe weather insurance
  • 39 per cent are unaware of theft of goods or money insurance

The fact is Canadians are either unaware these insurance exist or typically do not think to ask for them, or generally assume that no harm will come to them while travelling.

While over one quarter of Canadians travelling do not get any form of insurance for themselves, when it comes to family members visiting Canada, a full 82 per cent would not consider purchasing medical insurance for relatives from abroad. This could be problematic if a family member from abroad is involved in a medical emergency and requires a hospital bed. Typically, accommodations range between $3,000-$5,000 per day depending on the hospital and choice of room.

“The reality is that Canadians are not alone in their passive approach to travel medical insurance,” said Anne Marie Thomas. “You should be equally diligent in making sure your family members visiting from abroad are covered, especially those who are elderly or considered higher risk.”

Travel insurance is recommended by the Government of Canada and helps safeguard your health, travel plans and finances while you’re away or while family is visiting. Without coverage, you will be solely responsible for what can easily become exorbitant medical bills or unexpected trip-related expenses. Comparing travel insurance quotes will help you to get the best rate and the best coverage for your needs.

Furthermore, Ontario residents should be aware of upcoming changes to travel coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The Ontario provincial government is scrapping coverage for Ontario residents who require emergency medical services while travelling outside of Canada. The changes are expected to come into effect on October 1, 2019.

Policy coverage & cost examples*

  • 60-day coverage for student under the age of 30 travelling in Europe – $89/$1.50 day
  • 30-day medical coverage for student under the age of 30 travelling to Brazil – $51.60/$1.72 day
  • Three-week visit from parents both aged 65 in good health who live in Calcutta – $123.64/$5.89 day
  • Cousin aged 42 in good health visiting from Germany for four weeks – $50.85/$1.82 day

*all examples above are to illustrate relative costs and involve certain assumptions that may not be reflective of other considerations in finalizing available coverages

Emergency medical evacuation

The survey also revealed that 41 per cent of Canadians believe the cost of a four-hour emergency medical evacuation is under $2,000. Furthermore, 39 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 believes the cost to be under $500.

“The reality of any emergency evacuation for medical reasons is that your costs are going to be in the tens of thousands of dollars,” said Anne Marie Thomas. “Furthermore, there is a good chance this cost will be compounded by the hospital visit they are being sent home from.”

About the survey
The Travel Insurance survey was conducted by Forum Research between June 4th – 7th, 2019 and polled 1005 respondents across Canada. The sample’s age ranged from 18 to 65+ years old. To participate in the survey, respondents were required to have travelled outside of Canada in the past twelve months. Survey questions were presented via telephone and respondents provided answers through the touchpad of their mobile device or home phone.

About publishes rates from 30+ insurance providers so that Canadians can find the best insurance rates for themselves. Use the site to find the best rates on Auto, Home, Travel, Life and Commercial Insurance.

Covering the Expense of Interruptions and Cancellations

Ingle International

An unexpected flight interruption could blow up your travel budget like a balloon. A sudden storm or illness that forces you to cancel a pre-paid vacation could cost you even more. But, just as it can shift the potential burden of medical emergency costs, the right travel insurance can also limit your risk of unexpected trip expenses.

Q: What should I know about trip cancellation and interruption insurance?

Various all-inclusive travel plans provide coverage for medical emergencies as well as for cancelled or interrupted trips. If you do not require an individual medical policy, it’s possible to buy a stand-alone cancellation and/or interruption plan.

Q: How much would it cost me to purchase a comprehensive all-inclusive plan?

Prices vary from plan to plan, and from person to person. The cost of medical emergency coverage will typically go up with the age of the traveller and with any existing (or previous) health conditions. The cost of trip interruption coverage alone usually depends on age and coverage limit, while trip cancellation coverage will vary with the cost of your planned trip.

Q: What reasons would make me eligible for a trip interruption or cancellation claim?

You may submit a claim for expenses if one of the following interferes with your travel plans:

  • a weather disturbance
  • a medical or mechanical problem
  • legal or personal obligations
  • actions, threats, warnings, or decisions of others (e.g., governments and airlines)

Q: What is the most common reason for trip interruption claims?

“Typically trip interruption is associated with weather-type conditions. Any time we have a winter with a lot of snow in Canada, we definitely see an impact on our trip interruption and trip delay claims,” explains Rob Iafrate, assistant VP at Manulife Financial. “In theory, you are less exposed [to weather delays in the summer]. The exception a few years ago was when ash clouds from a volcano in Iceland disrupted travel during the European [travel] season.”

Q: Is the cost of trip cancellation and interruption coverage higher at certain times of the year?

Iafrate says no: “When you are putting the product together and trying to balance the ease or convenience of the application process and the pricing, you take a holistic view of the year and to what extent that type of claim happens over a 12-month period.”

Q: Is the demand for this insurance higher at certain times of the year?

The number of travel insurance purchases rise in Canada when families plan summer vacations, particularly costly trips to Europe, and winter vacations. Older snowbirds who drive south for long periods tend not to pay extra for trip delay or cancellation coverage, says Iafrate.

Q: Do consumers worry more about trip cancellation than trip interruption?

Yes. Consumers realize they can lose more money if they have to cancel a prepaid vacation because of illness, a death in the family, job loss, or a life-threatening event at their vacation destination. There are daily and total limits for the value of interruption expenses that may be claimed, but consumers may purchase much higher coverage limits for a costly vacation. Iafrate has observed that trip interruption due to weather is often an after-thought.

Q: When do consumers typically ask for trip interruption insurance?

“The only time trip interruption is brought up in a pre-sale discussion is if somebody is connecting (flying between airports before reaching a final destination),” says Iafrate. Travellers may be exposed to a loss if weather causes them to miss their connecting flight and they have to pay for another ticket.

Some travellers only add trip interruption to their next purchase of medical insurance after they have had to pay for a return flight, when delayed by a weather, medical, or other emergency, notes Karen Cullen, the Ontario regional director for Travel Insurance Coordinators Ltd. (TIC).

Q: How are trip cancellation rates determined? Are the rates just a set percentage of the total trip cost, or are there other factors?

“Trip cancellation rates can be based on a percentage of trip costs—usually around 6 to 8 per cent,” says Cullen. “But this can vary significantly depending on the benefits you are purchasing. Some companies take the insured’s age and trip duration into consideration.”

Q: Why is medical information sometimes required when applying for travel medical insurance, but not trip cancellation and interruption insurance?

A medical emergency could cost an insurer millions of dollars, depending on the policy limits, but only hundreds or thousands of dollars for a disrupted trip. So insurers are simply more careful when screening applicants for medical coverage.

Q: What protection does cancellation and interruption insurance offer against hurricanes and other extreme weather?

A trip interruption policy will typically pay for extra accommodation and flight costs, up to a fixed dollar limit, if you miss a flight due to a hurricane or other extreme weather. Trip cancellation coverage would reimburse pre-paid costs you could not otherwise recover.

But if weather conditions merely delay arrival, you may be expected to proceed once it is safe. Cullen notes that TIC’s polices state that you would be covered to cancel if you are not able to depart on your trip because of adverse weather, volcanic eruptions, or a natural disaster that would result in you missing 30 per cent or more of your trip.

Q: Can I get cancellation insurance for a flight booked with rewards points?

“Reward point companies can sometimes offer protection (for a premium) so that, if you cannot travel, you may be able to get your unused points credited back to your account,” says Cullen. “Because there is no actual cash value assigned to rewards points, [other] insurers usually will not allow cash reimbursements back to clients if or when they have to cancel their trip.

While some travellers may accept the risk of paying extra costs when their travel plans are interrupted or may even be able to tolerate losing it all if a trip is cancelled at the last minute, trip cancellation and interruption insurance can lift any concerns for a set price. The cost of this type of travel insurance isn’t that high to begin with, and can be minimized by comparing plans and purchase options. It’s also good to know that there are annual plans available for frequent flyers that have a trip cancellation and interruption component.


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