Jen White · CBC News 

A St. John’s travel agent says it’s important to check what medical insurance you have before you leave on a trip.

Here’s The Lowdown on medical insurance coverage.

According to the Department of Health and Community Services, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan (MCP) provides some coverage for residents who temporarily leave the province.

But Jennifer Neary, the owner of Once In A Lifetime Travel, said there are health-care services MCP doesn’t cover, or only partially covers, even within Canada — including hospital-related charges, clinic treatments, and ambulance services.

“There are certain maximum allowances, so you need to really review the terms and conditions of your insurance policies,” she said.

CBC Investigates gets the details from Jennifer Neary of Once In A Lifetime Travel about why it’s important to check what medical insurance you have before you leave on a trip. 2:18

Neary said it’s also important to ensure you have adequate insurance to protect yourself against unexpected medical emergencies, especially when travelling to other countries.

“You could be required to pay upfront before any medical services are received. You could have no coverage at all,” she said.

“Depending on what you exactly need in destination, those things could be something as simple as a broken arm, [and] cost you $40,000, or you know, worst-case scenario, you have to have your body repatriated into the country, and that can be an astronomical expense.”

Checking your coverage

Neary said there are different places where you can get travel medical insurance.

She said you may have coverage through your employer’s health-care plans, or you could check to see if you can opt into a program. You can also purchase coverage from an insurance broker or travel agent.

Neary said you may also have coverage on your credit card.

“If you have or you think you have a travel medical insurance [through] your credit card, it’s really important to carefully read the policy,” she said.

“Every credit card supplier is different. What was covered on one may not be covered on the other. You want to really look at who is covered: Is it just the person who the credit card is issued to? Are there any maximum amounts and deductibles? So, those vary widely.”

Neary said there are websites that list what coverage you have on your credit card, and also compares that coverage to other credit cards.

Pre-existing conditions

Neary said it’s also important to be aware of any pre-existing conditions that you have, and how those might affect your insurance.

“There’s many different things that would be considered a pre-existing condition,” she said.

“You may expect, [for example,] if you’re pregnant … and something happens [on your trip], that you’re covered — but that would be considered a pre-existing condition, and your insurance likely wouldn’t cover it.”

Neary said travel is often an expensive venture, and you might want to think about further insurance protection.

“You may want to consider getting more comprehensive coverage, that includes cancellation, trip interruption, to protect the investment that you’ve made in … your travel,” she said.

The Lowdown is a series from CBC NL Investigates about consumer news you can use. If you have a story idea, email us: cbcnlinvestigates@cbc.ca.

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