While the symptoms may vary from person to person — with the most common being stress, the winter blues, or an "elevated sense of adventure" — the diagnosis is clear: Canadians have been bitten by the travel bug.
According to the latest available statistics, 222,158 of us traveled within Canada in 2010; we also took about 20 million overnight trips to the United States, and 8.7 million trips overseas.1
Most of us put a lot of thought into what to pack, what to see and what to do while on vacation. But all travelers need to have a plan in place in case they get hurt or become sick while away from home.
If a medical emergency happens — whether out-of-province or out-of-country — without travel insurance, more than your trip could be ruined.
Many people mistakenly think they're protected by the free travel insurance offered through their credit card company, but coverage may only be valid if you booked travel and accommodation with the credit card itself.
Some policies also limit coverage to accidents that happen while travelling to or from your destination, while others don't include medical coverage at all.
Depending on where you live, your provincial health plan may cover nothing, or at best a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or suffer an injury while travelling.
For insured residents of Ontario, OHIP pays very limited amounts for physician services and hospital/health facility services, and only if certain conditions are satisfied. Also, the amount of funding provided by OHIP does not usually cover the full cost of any health services obtained outside of Canada. For example, OHIP will pay:
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care strongly recommends that you purchase travel insurance for every trip.
The costs of emergency care outside of Canada are often staggering, and could leave you with a bill that you might not be able to fully recover from financially. OHIP does not pay for ambulance services or transportation costs, so even if you return to your province of residence for treatment, a medical evacuation from overseas can still cost you $50,000 or more.3
An emergency is distressing enough as it is, but even more so when you're miles away from home. Wouldn't it be nice to have the comfort of your spouse or other loved one at your bedside? Or not have to worry about who will escort your young children back to Canada while you take the time needed to recover?
These are some of the many expenses that travel insurance can also help with if you're hospitalized or too unwell to return from your destination right away.
Along with emergency medical coverage, travel insurance also offers optional benefits that can protect against common mishaps, such as lost luggage, or more extraordinary circumstances that force you to alter your travel plans once you've arrived, or to cancel your trip altogether before you leave. By spending just a few extra dollars to top-up your coverage, you can avoid significant additional costs or losses, as in the following example.
For Dr. G and her best friend, it was meant to be a trip of a lifetime: three weeks of travel in Egypt. The two had booked an all-inclusive tour package in October 2010, with travel scheduled for May 2011. Neither could have predicted that an unprecedented civil uprising would happen in January of that year. Although the tour operator went ahead with the trip as planned, the friends were able to receive a full refund of over $6,000 each from their travel insurance provider.
When buying travel insurance you may be asked medical questions. It's important to disclose all medical conditions, even ones that you're not actively being treated for at the time, in order to make sure you purchase the right coverage that will provide the protection you need if you do have to make a claim.
Failing to disclose a medical condition, even inadvertently, can nullify your coverage and prevent you from receiving any payment. It is critical to ask the travel insurance representative you're dealing with for clarification if you're unclear about any of the questions or unsure of the relevance of a condition you have. And if your health changes in any way after the time you purchased the policy, including a change in medication, it's recommended you let the insurer know.
Travel insurance is an essential item for smart travelers to pack on every trip that takes you beyond provincial or national borders. It not only helps you avoid financial setbacks, but also makes sure you get the care you need, and return to good health as soon as possible.
Eligible OMA members now have access to an array of exclusive travel insurance plans to meet specific travel and coverage needs. For more information, visit www.omainsurance.com, or apply today by calling 1.855.444.1488 to learn more about OMA Travel Insurance, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (eastern time).
OMA Travel Insurance is now available to eligible members. Call 1.855.444.1488 for a free quote or to learn more about your exclusive offer.
1. Statistics Canada. [Internet] Ministry of Industry: Canada Year Book, 2012. c2012 [cited 2013 Feb. 19].
2. Ontario Ministry [Internet] Health and Long-Term Care: Travelling Outside of Canada. C2009-2010 [updated 2012 Sept 27, cited 2013 Feb. 19]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ohip/travel.aspx.
3. Government of Canada: Well on Your Way — A Canadian's Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad [cited 2013 Feb. 19]. Available From: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/ well-on-your-way.
4. As an OMA member, calling this dedicated telephone number will connect you with RSA Travel Insurance and you will enjoy a preferred rate, as compared to standard rates offered to individual retail purchasers through RSA Travel Insurance directly, not including any special discounts or promotions that may be offered from time to time.
This article is intended for general guidance and is not a contract. The complete terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions governing OMA Travel coverage can be found on the OMA website (www.omainsurance.com) and in the relevant OMA policies underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. OMA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada and administered by RSA Travel Insurance Inc., operating as RSA Travel Insurance Agency in British Columbia. TM "RSA" and the RSA logo are trademarks owned by RSA Insurance Group plc, licensed for use by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.