An Evolution of Travel Insurance

Evolution-Of-Travel-Insurance1In July 2013, Ingle International purchased the editorial assets and title of Travel Insurance File (TIF) from publisher and editor Milan Korcok, and assumed full time management and operations of what has become one of the most authoritative (and most visited) websites for Canadian travellers and snowbirds.

Ingle was instrumental in assisting Milan in creating TIF in 2007. We helped put Canadian travellers in touch with the information they need to stay secure and safe in an increasingly complex, and in some cases, dangerous world.

 

Who is Ingle International? 

Ingle International is part of a group of companies that started in 1946, providing insurance and information services to new immigrants to Canada. We worked closely with government agencies to create products to fill in the gaps between private and social services, and we were the first to develop Visitors to Canada health insurance plans in the 1940s, International Student insurance plans in the 1950s, travel insurance (as you know it today) in the 1950s, and Snowbird insurance in the late 1980s. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and the provincial ministries of health knew our company well and we worked with them to assist Canadians outside of Canada and non-residents in Canada, including diplomats.

Travel insurance in Canada – A history

In 1989, the provinces in Canada were having difficulty managing insured services for Canadians in the US. Many provinces started to reduce the amounts they would pay outside of the country. Milan Korcok, Bill Leeder (publisher of Canada News, a Florida-based newspaper for Canadian snowbirds), and I started doing seminars for seniors travelling to the southern US (a.k.a. Snowbirds). Many of the seminars included representatives of the provincial ministries of health such as Dr. Robert MacMillan, executive director of OHIP at that time. During the summer of 1991, our company was asked to create a product for Ontario snowbirds to show that cost-effective private insurance was available for those able to afford to travel. We were already providing these types of products in other provinces.

The biggest change in travel insurance in Canada came in October 1991 when the province of Ontario announced it could no longer cover residents outside of Canada and reduced the payment amounts to as low as 5-10% of US medical fees. This was truly the start of Snowbird coverage and the generic use of terms like “snowbird,” and “early bird specials” for travel insurance became part of our conversation. It was also a time when reading the fine print became critical for travellers and information about the high cost of health care in the US was reinforced.

Behind the scenes at Ingle

I have been in the travel insurance business since 1976, and I have seen the industry change dramatically. I helped pioneer the development of associations, partnering with CARP in the early 1990s and helping their membership grow through preferred rates for travel insurance. I worked closely with Milan Korcok, Bill Leeder, and others in the creation of the Canadian Snowbird Association with the goal of providing rich content, reliable information, and products that evolved to give Canadians better value. We created ombuds services, medical review panels for claims issues, and claim payment guarantees. We also talked to anyone who would listen about travel insurance products, the limitations of those products, and about the differences in the health care systems here in Canada, the US, and around the world.

Today, our insurance business, represents all major travel, visitor, and expatriate insurance providers in Canada and worldwide. Our staff members find the right product to fit each traveller’s needs. If we cannot find the right coverage for you, we will tell you why and explain to you what your options are.

We provide insurance products globally, health care services in Canada and abroad, medical and security assistance for worldwide travellers, and technology for safer travels.

What’s next for TIF?

I have worked closely with Milan for over 25 years. I have seen him be uncompromising as he searched for the answers snowbirds were looking for and have witnessed his handling of ombuds services, making absolutely sure that all parties knew the facts and were treated fairly. Lucky for us, Milan will continue to contribute to Travel Insurance File, and will be joined by a group of writers who will help expand the amount of content and range of information available. One such writer is James Daw, a well-known columnist for the Toronto Star and now a regular contributor to TIF.   

If you have a question, a concern, or an interesting story, get in touch. We want you to be involved. Join the conversation and tell us your story.

-Robin

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