Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make sure I’m getting the best possible price on my travel insurance?
Shop around. Insurers consider different factors when assessing an applicant’s health. Medical conditions which greatly increase the rate you receive from one insurer won’t necessarily be considered as high risk with another. By comparing several plans you can make sure that you get a competitive rate. Better yet, by contacting a licensed travel insurance broker, you will gain access to a variety of travel insurance plans, as well as the knowledge and expertise of professionals who specialize in travel insurance.
Buy before your birthday. Did you know that travel insurance rates are often based on your age at the time of purchase, not your age on your departure date? This means that if you are on the verge of a new age bracket in your insurance plan’s pricing system, you can save a considerable amount by purchasing before your birthday, even if you will be travelling after your birthday.
Special discounts. Some travel insurance providers offer early bird discounts for customers who purchase in August or even as late as September. The longer you wait, the more likely the insurer will impose their annual rate increase. Some insurers also offer companion discounts and special rates for members of specific groups and organizations.
Consider a higher deductible. Most travel insurance plans have a default deductible of around $250, but insurers offer discounts of as much as 45-65% when you choose to increase your deductible. If you are financially prepared to absorb the first several thousand dollars of a claim, a high deductible can be a great way to save on your premium.
Will travel insurance plans cover expenses related to my pre-existing medical conditions?
All travel insurance plans have some form of exclusions for expenses related to pre-existing medical conditions. However, whether or not the exclusions in any specific plan will apply to expenses related to your pre-existing condition depends on many factors.
Most plans exclude expenses related to pre-existing conditions which do not meet a stability requirement for a set amount of time before your departure date. Generally speaking, the more serious an applicant’s medical conditions are, the longer the stability requirement. It is also important to remember that each insurance policy will have its own unique definition of “stable”. Just because you consider a medical condition stable, doesn’t mean your insurer will. The definition of “stable” will usually require no changes in treatment, diagnosis, medication or symptoms for a given period of time, and may also mention that you cannot be on any waiting lists or waiting for test results.
Typically, most travel insurance plans can cover expenses related to pre-exiting medical conditions which have been stable for at least six months to one year prior to your departure date. If you have pre-existing medical conditions which have been stable for less than six months, you may need to consider a plan which involves a more extensive application process, such as the SRMRM travel health plan. This plan features a very detailed medical questionnaire and tells applicants exactly which medical conditions will be covered and which will not.
In addition to my annual snowbird trip, I am planning several other trips throughout the year. Do I have to purchase separate plans for each trip?
If you are planning at least 2-3 trips over the next year, it is likely that a multi-trip annual plan will be more cost effective than separate single-trip plans. A multi-trip annual plan covers you for an unlimited number of trips over the course of a year, with a limit on the number of days you can be gone on any one trip. Plans such as ETFS Medi-Select Advantage offer a variety of options for the numbers of days of coverage per trip, ranging from 9 days to 60 days. If you go on a trip which exceeds the number of days of coverage from your annual plan, you can also purchase a top-up for the extra days.
I already have travel medical insurance through my group benefits. What additional types of travel insurance should I consider?
First, check what is covered under your group benefits. Some of the issues that sometimes come up with group benefit travel insurance coverage:
- Overall limit: most stand-alone travel medical plans offer coverage of $2 million to $5 million. Within a group benefit plan, coverage can be as low as $100,000. In the event of a major emergency this may not be sufficient.
- Emergency assistance: group benefit plans may not include a phone number to call for assistance in the event of an emergency. An emergency assistance service is vital to connect you with the services you need, monitor your care, notify your relatives, arrange for early return home or medical transportation, and much more.
- Upfront or reimbursement: group benefit plans often require that you pay your bills, then submit receipts for reimbursement.
- Number of days: your group benefits may only cover you for a set number of days out of the country.
If your group benefit plan does not provide sufficient coverage, you can purchase supplemental travel medical coverage to fill the gaps.
Other types of coverage you may be interested in aside from travel medical insurance:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Trip cancellation insurance protects the pre-paid, non-refundable cost of your trip if you must call of your trip for an unforeseen reason. Trip interruption pays for the extra cost for you to return home early for an unforeseen reason.
Trip cancellation and interruption plans contain lists of specific “insured risks” or “covered risks”. These are circumstances which could cause the cancellation or interruption of a trip under which benefits are payable and can include medical reasons (such as the sickness, injury, or death of an insurer person or family member) and non-medical reasons (such as the schedule change of an airline, bankruptcy of a travel supplier, or a warning not to travel to your destination issued by the Canadian government).
- Accidental death and dismemberment and flight accident insurance. This type of coverage provides a lump sum payment in the event of an accident causing the death or dismemberment of an insured person. In the event of death, the lump sum is paid to the inured person’s beneficiary.
- Baggage insurance. This type of coverage will not only reimburse you for the value of lost or stolen baggage, but can also pay for essential clothing and toiletries if your baggage is delayed, allowing you to enjoy your trip until your baggage arrives.