Protect yourself from unexpected medical bills when traveling
Before you leave on your next vacation, remember to review your travel insurance coverage. Just like anything else, planning ahead could reap rewards in the future – in this case, avoiding costly, unexpected medical bills.
Meet George. George is a 35-year-old Fraser Valley man from British Columbia who was taking his annual motorcycle road trip to the US with friends when he had to make a frightening stop on his motorcycle while in California. He was cruising through the northern part of the state when the motorcycle he was riding hit road debris and crashed. The road trip was cut short and the vertebrae in his spine were shattered.
Recovery involved many days in the California hospital for tests and two surgeries including the insertion of a steel rod to support his spine. He was transferred back to Vancouver where he underwent physiotherapy and continued his recovery.
When traveling outside of Canada, the cost of medical treatment can quickly add up and sometimes exceed coverage available to you through the provincial government and any supplementary health insurance plans.
Each province in Canada limits coverage for out-of-province and out-of-country medical costs for its residents – a traveler from BC is eligible for up to $75 Cdn/day for in-patient hospital care.
But consider this: one day in a USA hospital typically costs more than $2,500 Cdn/day and $10,000 Cdn/day in intensive care.
Thankfully due to the foresight of having purchased travel insurance, George’s claim of $1,040,700 was fully covered.
Preventing the unpreventable
Accidents and emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime. Have you ever contracted food poisoning or experienced chest pains in your hotel late at night? Have you done your homework to prepare for an emergency medical situation while traveling?
Emergencies that happen within Canada have the potential to be costly too. Reciprocal agreements between provinces provide a certain level of protection when travelling within Canada but there are many things that your provincial health coverage will not cover when travelling outside your home province.
Meet Margaret, a fun loving and adventurous 71-year-old Prince George, BC woman who flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit friends. While on the Eastern Seaboard, she fell and broke her hip. As healthy as Margaret was, there was nothing that could have prevented this accidental fall.
After 30 days in hospital, she was able to return home; however, she needed the assistance of a medical escort. Without Emergency Excess Hospital/Medical Insurance, Margaret would have had to pay a total of $2945.95 out of pocket to cover the multiple ambulance trip costs, select prescriptions and medical supplies, her returned airfare back to BC and her escort’s hotel and airfare expenses.
Do your homework!
Part of the homework is looking at the type of travel coverage you might already have and identifying what might be lacking in that coverage. Sometimes travel protection offered by your credit card provider or supplementary health insurance plan is not enough. It may not reimburse you for all types of unexpected medical expenses incurred while traveling. Do a little research or speak to a Westland Insurance Agent to find out what travel coverage you might need.
Tips for safe travel
Safe travel seems like an oxymoron in today’s world. Nowadays, we have to be prepared for new challenges like threats of terrorism, viral outbreaks and a seemingly greater number of natural disasters. Despite the additional precautions, Canadians are continuing to travel and are even heading to more exotic destinations. For those Canadians venturing out into air travel, check out the six tips to take to safeguard your health and pocket books.