In May 2011, Canadian residents took 4.2 million trips to the United States – a decrease of 1.7 percent from April, says Statistics Canada. As Canadians head south of the border, a recent RBC Insurance survey conducted by Ipsos Reid found that many aren’t protecting themselves with travel insurance.
Younger Canadians – those between the ages of 18 and 34 – said they rarely or never purchase travel insurance when heading to the U.S. For those who do purchase insurance, more than half – 56 percent – said they don’t take the time to understand what their policy covers before they leave on their tip.
The survey also found that 34 percent of young Canadians say they don’t need travel insurance if they’re heading to the United States because their provincial health plan will cover their medical costs. “However,” said RBC Insurance, “A two day hospital stay for a broken leg in California can cost up to $8,000 per day and the average provincial health plan would pay only $200 daily, leaving the individual responsible for the $7,800 difference. In comparison, a 30 year old travelling for eight days in the U.S. could buy full emergency medical travel insurance for just $33.”
Eighty-four percent of young travelers said they don’t need to buy travel insurance if they’re staying in Canada but heading to a different province or territory. The truth is government health insurance (GHIP) plans may limit the reimbursement of emergency medical expenses once travellers leave their home province. For example, an air ambulance with a full medical team travelling from Calgary to Toronto can cost $24,000 and is not covered by GHIP.
More than half – 57 percent – of young travelers say that they have sufficient coverage through their work or credit card, so don’t need to buy additional coverage.
“There is often confusion and misconceptions around the different types of insurance available,” said Tim Bzowey, vice-president, Travel, RBC Insurance. “It’s important to understand what your needs are and the different types of travel insurance available to ensure financial protection against any unexpected travel situations.”