February 1, 2016

Travel Insurance

Planning a holiday is a great way to escape the February blues.  Whether you are travelling to somewhere warm or heading to a ski hill for some winter fun, you’ll want to pack your travel insurance.
If you have health care under your workplace benefit plan, you likely have travel coverage.  There is no need to enroll or purchase it separately.  Coverage under group benefit plans typically covers medical emergencies but not lost or damaged luggage or cancellation insurance. 

Medical Emergency

A medical emergency is a sudden, unforeseen event that requires medical attention.  If you have a pre-existing medical condition that is not stable prior to departure, any medical event related to that condition may be excluded from coverage.  If you are unsure if your health would preclude you from coverage, talk to your doctor and your insurance company prior to travel. 
If your medical emergency is the result of an adventure experience, such as skydiving or scuba diving, your policy may also exclude coverage.  Every policy is different so it’s important to review your coverage with your insurance company and be sure that you understand your coverage before leaving.

When Accidents Happen

Accidents do happen and if you are in such a situation, contact the travel number found on your travel card as soon as possible.  If you are unable to do so, have a travelling companion or the hospital do it for you.  This will allow the insurance company to open a file for you and coordinate benefits with your provincial plan.  They will also be able to pay for your services so you are not out of pocket.  Some insurance companies will cut back or deny payment if you fail to contact them when the emergency happens so it is always best to make the call. 

Where to Find Information

Details of what is covered, including definitions of a “medical emergency” and “stable”, are included in your benefit booklet.  If you are not sure about the coverage or terms, talk to the insurance company to get clarification. Your group insurance card includes the emergency travel numbers and identification numbers.  If you cannot find either of these, they are typically available through the online plan member website at your insurance company or you can request a new one from your plan administrator.

Where am I Covered?

Coverage is pretty much available worldwide.  There may be exclusions for countries with a no travel advisory in effect.  Check with www.travel.gc.ca  and your insurance company.  Remember to take your travel insurance documents with you when travelling within Canada.  There are some services that are covered by intra-provincial agreements but many that are not.  Your insurance will keep you protected out of country and out of province.


Take your travel card with you but also take a photocopy.  If you are taking a trip with a tour operator, they may require a copy to keep on file.  Letting your travel companions know where to find your documentation can help with accessing care when you are unable to do this yourself.
Also consider keeping an electronic copy somewhere so that in the event that you lose your card, you can access a copy from anywhere. If you are registered for online plan member services, you can access your travel information anytime anywhere.  
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