An Agent’s Guide to Travel Insurance Basics

Your client bought a travel insurance policy, but do they know what they’re covered for?

I sell travel insurance every day and I’m always surprised at how easy it is to sell. Clients may have a variety of concerns, like planning high-risk activities in faraway places, but I always find a product that’s right for them. I always wonder, how can they know if they’re getting good value for their premium? Sure, they have ‘coverage’, but do they actually know what are they covered for?


Eligibility—Can they be covered?

Often, all that a client needs to do to purchase travel insurance is pass the ‘Eligibility Requirements’ of the policy. Some policies have very few eligibility requirements, while others have many. A client may rejoice that they can buy travel insurance for their trip, but just meeting the basic requirements to buy the policy doesn’t mean they’ll have coverage for their pre-existing conditions or high-risk activities. It’s our job as licensed insurance agents to explain this to our customers. Even though travel insurance is easy to buy, it isn’t always easy to understand.

Information for Your Clients: Insurability Guide: “Can I Get Travel Insurance with a Pre-existing Condition?”


Stability—What is covered?

You’ve confirmed that the client can purchase the insurance, but it doesn’t mean that they are covered for their pre-existing conditions. The principal policy specification that governs the coverage of pre-existing conditions is the ‘Stability Clause’ of the policy. As an industry standard, typically the first exclusion in a travel insurance policy will specify what ‘stability’ is required to cover a pre-existing condition. Basically, if the client is medically stable for the period specified in the policy, they will have coverage for emergencies relating to their pre-existing conditions.

Related Article: Quiz Insurers about Stability Clauses. Quiz Clients about Their Health.


Ongoing treatment—What isn’t covered?

Now that you’ve established that the pre-existing condition is covered by the travel insurance policy, there are still important policy limitations that must be discussed. Coverage for pre-existing conditions is limited to the sudden reoccurrence of symptoms or complications relating to the condition in question. Conditions that require ongoing treatment—such as insulin for diabetes, or heart conditions treated with Warfarin—can be covered for unforeseen emergencies, but the costs of maintaining ongoing treatment falls solely on the insured.

A common misunderstanding with Canadian travel insurance is that it will cover everything, much like the Canadian government’s health insurance plans. But travel insurance is no substitute for the insurance offered by the Government of Canada, and is diametrically different in the following important ways:

  • Applicants must be eligible to purchase insurance
  • Pre-existing conditions must meet medical stability requirements to be eligible for coverage benefits
  • Travel insurance only covers sudden and unforeseen medical emergencies as set out in the terms and conditions of the policy

Travel insurance is an important financial product to protect your client in the event of an emergency when they’re outside of their home country. It is easy to sell, but not always easy to understand. Be the expert your clients need.


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This article was provided by Patrick Chiasson, Broker Services Manager, Ingle International & Imagine Financial

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