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Travel Insurance – Can You Really Afford to Trek Without It?

Travel Insurance – Can You Really Afford to Trek Without It?
There tends to be a lot of misinformation when it comes to travel insurance. As a travel insurance broker, I’ve heard from a lot of clients who are concerned that their coverage won’t pay out when they need it. I can understand their hesitance to spend money on insurance when you’ve likely heard horror stories about claims being denied, but the reality is you are taking more of a gamble by travelling without it. 

A common belief among Canadians is that we have already have health insurance through our provincial governments, so there is no reason to spend money on unnecessary coverage. While this is partially correct, that’s not the full picture. Your health care coverage is most beneficial to you within your home province but it’s not meant to cover you abroad. We even recommend purchasing coverage when travelling to other provinces and territories because it there is any difference in costs for treatments, hospital stays, or air ambulance, you will likely be on the hook for the balance. 

Once you leave the country, you are expected to purchase additional insurance to bridge the gap between what your GHIP (Government Health Insurance Plan) will pay, and the actual costs incurred. Just a few years ago, a Toronto woman travelling in Croatia sustained serious head injuries after falling off a catamaran. Her family quickly found out the hard way that OHIP would not be footing the bill to provide an air ambulance to bring her home. Foreign Affairs gave them a similar answer – no insurance, no assistance. They eventually had to crowd source funds to help cover her medical bills and the air ambulance back to Canada. 

You don’t often hear about the positive stories, when a claim is covered and the client has a great experience. While denials account for roughly 5% of all claims submitted, those are the stories people take to the media in hopes of forcing the insurance company’s hand. It’s worth noting that in 2011 alone, Canadian travel insurance policyholders were paid a total of $620 million in claims. That’s not pocket change, and should be indicative of how often claims are approved and everything goes according to plan. 

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. In a 2014 survey by the Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA), only 47% of Canadians made the decision to invest in travel insurance for their trips. 

Interestingly, among those polled 38% of people said a $1000-$5000 unexpected expense would be financially ruinous. Considering even $5000 is on the very low end of the scale when it comes to medical costs, travel insurance should definitely be factored into your travel budget. 

If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do I have family or friends who can bail me out, fly me home, or be at my bedside while abroad? 
  • Am I travelling to a country where medical costs are more than I can afford unexpectedly? Am I travelling to a country where I would be concerned with getting proper medical care? 
  • Will I be participating in activities where I could get injured? 
Now tell me, are you still feeling confident about travelling without insurance? Talk to us about your travel insurance today! If you’d like to learn more about your options, please give us a call at 1-800-679-2640 Ext 610 or visit our Travel Insurance page.