Preparing for your trip

Getting ready to travel

Debunking common travel insurance myths

When planning a trip, no one wants to think about the potential for something to go wrong. A little advanced planning, though, can save you a lot of grief and expense if it does.

Take Control

Try as we might, we have no control over what surprises we may encounter in life. This includes getting sick or injured on or before a trip. What we can control in these situations is what steps we take to prepare for and protect ourselves from the potential outcomes of these surprises.

You can carefully plan what to pack, plan your trip itinerary, find the best deals, read all the guide books and be ready to make the most of your trip. But what if you or a loved one gets sick or injured before the trip? Or, worse, you find yourself needing medical care in a foreign country? Unless part of your planning was what to do in one of these scenarios, you could be in trouble.

By taking control and meeting with an insurance advisor to discuss what type of travel insurance may be right for you, you can save a lot of money and grief later on.

RSA Canada looks at some of the most common misconceptions surrounding travel insurance to help you make an informed decision when it comes to protecting yourself and your family when you travel.

Myth #1: Travel insurance is too expensive

Many travellers don’t think about purchasing travel insurance until the last minute, often when they are booking their trip. By then, budgets are set, plans are made and most people are looking for opportunities to save money, not spend more. The best time to consider travel insurance is when you are planning your trip.

The cost of travel insurance can be as low as a couple of dollars per day, less for travel within Canada. Here are some sample prices for emergency medical policies:

  • Family of five travelling in the US for three weeks: $120
  • Family of five travelling within Canada for three weeks: $25
  • A healthy 72-year-old woman, with no pre-existing medical conditions, travelling to Costa Rica for 60 days: $409

Compare that with the cost of having to cancel your plans at the last minute or getting sick in a foreign country, though, and it’s a small price to pay to be sure you and your family are protected.

Myth #2: All travel insurance is built the same

Some credit cards offer travel insurance as an added feature, and many Canadians have travel insurance through their employer as part of their benefits. Make sure you understand what these cover you for and whether they offer sufficient coverage to meet your specific travel insurance needs. Many plans of this nature do not provide the same level of coverage you receive through a standard travel insurance policy.

Definitely take advantage of these plans to lower the cost of your travel insurance, but be sure you know what you are and are not covered for so you can decide if you need additional coverage. Some questions to ask of these providers include:

  • Does it cover your family?
  • Does the policy cover trip cancellation or baggage loss?
  • Does it cover pre-existing conditions?
  • What about emergency dental care?
  • What other exclusions are there?
  • Does it pay fees directly to providers when possible or does it require you to pay and be reimbursed?

Discuss these limitations with an insurance expert to determine if it makes sense to purchase additional coverage.

Myth #3: Travel insurance is just for older people

Many Canadians associate travel insurance with retirees going on extended trips south; it’s not something they think they need to concern themselves with. Getting sick or into an accident, having your luggage lost, having to cancel your trip; however, are not things that only happen to older people. Plenty of young, healthy Canadians have these experiences every day.

Ultimately, it comes down to the level of risk you are comfortable taking on. If you consider the number of times you, or your family, have been involved in an accident, gotten sick, or visited a hospital here at home, remember those things are just as likely to occur while away.

Compare the costs of those treatments in places like the US, or the cost of getting to a decent hospital in remote locations, with the cost of a few dollars a day for travel insurance and the choice becomes much easier to make.

And travel insurance comes in many sizes and shapes to fit any traveller’s need.

Myth #4: I have a pre-existing condition, I can’t get insurance

Many people with existing medical conditions assume they are ineligible for travel insurance; not true. In many cases you can get insurance, and even if you aren’t covered for your pre-existing condition, you can still be protected against other risks, or risks to your family, through a travel insurance policy.

Coverage for a pre-existing condition

Pre-existing medical conditions are not uncommon. Lots of us have them. These conditions may have an impact on the cost of your premium, and may require you to answer medical questions or supply medical information before being approved, but they do not necessarily exclude you from coverage.

If you have a pre-existing condition, many insurance companies will individually assess your situation and provide coverage tailored to you. They might even provide coverage for your pre-existing condition if your treatment and symptoms have not changed for a certain period of time. Speak to your provider or an insurance expert to find out if your condition is insurable.

Myths associated to travel insurance are a dime a dozen. Taking time to cut through the smoke and mirrors – even if for just the most common misconceptions – can help you save big, fast.

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