Stuff happens. We don’t want to plan for these events, but we need to be protected in case they do; particularly when we are away from home. It’s important to be covered in the event of a medical emergency – accident or illness, an interruption in your trip, even the loss of baggage or delays. According to Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development Canada, you should purchase the best travel insurance you can afford. In addition to covering an unexpected event like accident or illness, make sure that your coverage includes “pre-existing medical conditions” if applicable, “medical evacuation” if required to get you to the nearest appropriate medical location, and “repatriation” in the event of a death while away. That’s why we recommend that you “Don’t leave home without Travel Insurance coverage!”
Here are some other tips of what to ‘pack’ before leaving Canada:
Take a copy of your policy information, or at least, the company’s contact information and your policy number. Often the insurance companies will provide you with a small wallet size card containing this information. If a medical situation arises, you are advised to call the insurer first, so that they can assist in dealing with your emergency. You can also register your insurance information at www.travel.gc.ca/insurance ; a government agency.
Make sure you understand your policy coverage and exclusions. Many policies may not cover high risk activities such as bungee jumping or parasailing, so read your policy carefully. Remember there is some basic coverage available through your BC Medical plan and possibly through some employer plans. Travel insurance picks up expenses where your government health plan leaves off and may have “deductible” costs. Keep in mind foreign hospitals can be very expensive and generally expect you to pay for the medical expenses upfront and in cash. You will have to submit your receipts for reimbursement once you return home. The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.
Get the necessary immunizations for the country that you are travelling to. Ensure that you have a sufficient supply of any prescription medicine to get you through your trip.
It’s also a good idea to find out the country’s 911-equivalent number in case of a life-threatening emergency, and it can’t hurt to know where the closest Canadian embassy is located either. The latter may come in handy in the event of a natural disasters. There is also an “Emergency Watch & Response Centre 24/7” available to assist you at 1-613-996-8885 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So pack your suitcase, purchase your insurance coverage and Enjoy your Trip!!
By Colleen Barker, CFP at Fraser Financial Group/IPC Investment Corporation - Vernon