The Importance of Travel Medical Emergency Insurance- 08/18/2020
In 2019, Canadian residents took more than 56 million trips outside of the country, according to Statistics Canada.
For many, travelling abroad is a necessity for conducting business and visiting family. For others, it’s a chance to explore the world and make memories. The reasons why, how and where Canadians travel are diverse, but everyone hopes their trips go smoothly.
No one can predict when a medical emergency will strike, so it’s incredibly important to be prepared for every scenario before embarking on your next adventure. Travel medical emergency insurance provides travelers with peace of mind, knowing that if something happens while they’re out of their province, they can receive quality care and financial protection.
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Travel medical emergency insurance 101
If a medical emergency happened outside of your home province, would you know what to do? Unfortunately, becoming ill or injured abroad is more common than you may think. In fact, MoneyWise recently summarized a travel survey and found that more than a third of Canadians have had to file insurance claims for doctor visits overseas. While this number is already high, it doesn’t include many other citizens who may have been sick or hurt and avoided seeking treatment abroad due to the high costs of receiving care.
Along with underestimating the frequency of emergencies abroad, many Canadians also don’t comprehend their potential financial impact. Insurance Hotline found that 41% of Canadians believe the cost of a four-hour medical evacuation to a location to receive proper care is less than $2,000, while in reality it costs tens of thousands of dollars – the majority of which you would have to pay out-of-pocket if you don’t have insurance.
The same cost discrepancies are true even for common illnesses and ailments – like broken bones. At home, your provincial health insurance plan looks after your hospital and medical expenses when you need care, but this coverage typically doesn’t fully apply when you’re abroad. This means, if you visit the U.S. for a week and break your arm, you would likely have to spend upwards of $2,500 in out-of-pocket expenses to visit a doctor. And that’s for a non-surgical treatment.
Of course, not all travel medical emergency insurance options are created equal. You should always evaluate coverage using a few key factors:
Exclusions: What is covered (or not covered) by the plan. You should always ensure it covers medical evacuation, hospitalization and other emergency costs. Additionally, if you have a pre-existing condition, you should discuss if it’s covered by the plan.
Number of trips and duration of travel: Is the insurance for one trip, or does it cover you for a set period of time? How long does it protect you while you’re travelling?
Coverage amount: What’s the maximum benefit? Many traditional insurance plans offer only a fraction of what you would need if you were to require emergency medical care abroad.
By scrutinizing these aspects of a plan you will be able to determine if the travel medical insurance suits your needs.
Travel medical insurance vs. travel insurance
For many Canadians, the distinctions between travel medical insurance and a traditional travel protection plan remain unclear. Traditional travel insurance, or trip insurance, exclusively covers the cost of lost luggage, missed flights and canceled trips. In no way does this insurance help if you need to seek medical care while on your trip.
Travel medical insurance, on the other hand, directly pays health care providers or reimburses you for unexpected emergency medical expenses incurred while travelling abroad or outside of your province for non-health-related reasons. This is more than simply covering a visit to the doctor, this insurance covers expenses such as:
- Hospital accommodations
- Physician charges
- Emergency dental treatment
- Diagnostic services
- Paramedical services
- Medical appliances
- Ambulance services
- Emergency air transportation
- Transportation to bedside
- Incidental expenses and accommodations
While many travel insurance plans only provide coverage for one person and a single trip, year-round medical emergency insurance plans are available for those who travel frequently. With annual coverage, you and your family can be covered year-round for an unlimited number of trips all for a single, low annual fee.
Get guaranteed emergency medical protectionyear-round with an EDGE Travel Medical Plan.Learn More
What about my provincial health plan?
As mentioned, another common misconception about travelling abroad is that your provincial health plan will cover any medical expenses incurred in a different province or country. Most Canadians believe their employee benefits, credit card coverage and provincial insurance is enough to help them with the financial impact of a travel medical emergency, according to Insurance Hotline. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
While out-of-province medical coverage varies by province, Ontario recently made changes to its plan which greatly impacts travelers. On Jan. 1, 2020, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) eliminated most health coverage for Canadians travelling outside of the country. The only coverage that remains is for dialysis treatment, Toronto Public Media reported. Most other provinces only offer a limited amount of coverage for travel medical emergencies, rarely pay medical practitioners directly, and have long, cumbersome reimbursement processes.
This is why all provincial health ministers strongly recommended Canadian citizens who are travelling outside of the country – even for a day – invest in travel medical insurance. The truth is, provincial health plans are not adequate for travelers because they are not prepared to pay the tens of thousands of dollars a serious injury or illness could cost a citizen abroad.
The Edge Benefits offers comprehensive travel medical emergency insurance that covers extensive medical costs arising within the first 30 days of travel. Along with 24/7 assistance, we ensure you find a qualified practitioner so you receive the care you need while knowing your finances are still secure.
Learn more about our travel medical emergency insurance to be protected for your next trip.