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OUT-OF-COUNTRY TRAVEL INSURANCE

Statistics show that more Canadians per capita travel outside the country than any other country. Are you one of those looking forward to travelling somewhere warm or exciting in the near future? If so, make sure that you are protected by out-of-country insurance. The potential financial risk exists whether you leave the country for an hour, a day or a month. You could be travelling anywhere in the world, but the country with the most expensive medical system is the U.S.

If you have a serious injury or illness in the United States and require emergency medical attention, you will be financially devastated unless you have out-of-country medical insurance. The need for this extra insurance protection is simple. Provincial health insurance plans vary by province, but each provides you with the necessary protection when travelling within Canada. Coverage by provincial plans for hospital care outside Canada is nominal, e.g. $75 to $500+ Canadian funds per day, depending on your province. This is very low compared to medical costs in the U.S. It may only cover 5 percent, if that, of your total outlay.

The problem is that health care in the U.S. is very different from the Medicare coverage we are accustomed to in Canada. We are not accustomed to being personally billed, so we don’t fully appreciate the real cost of treatment. In the U.S. system, private hospitals and doctors operate in a profit-oriented environment, and costs are much greater. In the U.S., the average hospital stay often exceeds $1,500 U.S. a day,and can run as high as $10,000 U.S. a day or more for intensive care. Certain emergency surgical operations can cost $100,000 U.S. or more. So who pays the shortfall if you have a medical emergency in the U.S.? You do. Unless, of course, you have wisely purchased supplemental medical insurance before you leave Canada, for the duration of your U.S. stay, be it a day or six months. Keep in mind this supplemental insurance covers emergency non-elective treatment for injury or illness only. It does not cover non-emergency treatment or services. It is not a substitute for Canadian Medicare.

You can get extended stay coverage (e.g. for Snowbirds) or a multi-trip plan. This latter type of plan allows you to travel outside Canada for as many times as you like within the one-year period of the plan up to a certain number of days at a time. You select the number of days, for example 10, 20, 30 days, etc. Premium rates vary greatly between insurers depending on factors such as the nature of coverage, your age and existing medical condition, policy exclusions and limitations, the deductible portion of policy, whether you have a preferred (for healthy people) or standard rate plan, and the duration of your stay in the U.S. Do not choose a plan based on price alone but consider such factors as benefits, limitations, exclusions, and deductibles. Remember to claim your insurance premiums for a tax credit on your income tax return under “medical expenses.”

Check out as many insurance programs as you can that offer the type of coverage you are seeking. You need a full range of comparisons to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various plans, to make your final decision much less stressful. To eliminate misunderstanding, get confirmation in writing of any representations or responses to requests made by you to your insurance company. Keep copies of all correspondence between you and your insurance company, as well as any receipts for items to be claimed for reimbursement.

Copyright © 2021 , Douglas Gray, LL.B. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of the material contained in this website is strictly prohibited. E&OE (Errors and Omissions Excepted). Please refer to Copyright and Disclaimer at bottom of website page. Refer to Books section for related information.

 

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