Milan Korcok

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Milan Korcok has been covering international health care activities and trends in Canada, the U.S., and abroad since the introduction of Canada’s medicare system in the late’60s. He has long served as contributing editor to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and currently serves as contributor to the International Travel Insurance Journal, published in the UK and distributed globally.

Who Pays When Airlines Ground Your Flight?

Disruptions caused by the grounding of 737 Max fleets worldwide have caused many thousands of travellers to dig into their travel insurance policies to see who pays for their delays, re-routings, unanticipated airport meals, extra nights in vacation locations, taxis back and forth between airports and hotels, rebooking airline fees, and on and on. These unexpected costs can add up, especially if you’re travelling in family groups. Already, one large US travel insurance aggregator has noted that simply “fear” of flying on a 737 isn’t enough for an insurer to pay for any rebooking fees, and most airlines are not obligated to do so. National regulations on such payments vary a lot from country to country. What is clear, though, is that if an airline does agree to pay for rebooking, or other out-of-pocket personal charges caused by the disruption, or if the airline offers vouchers for future flights, your…

Canadian Students Urged to Go Abroad and Experience the World

With Canada as multicultural as it is, one might think that Canadian post-secondary students would be among the world’s leaders in expanding their educational horizons and doing all or part of their undergraduate studies abroad. But, in fact, only 2.3 per cent of Canadian undergraduates studied abroad in the school year from 2014 to 2015—far less than the 10 per cent of American or 13 per cent of Australian undergraduates who pursue some or all of their studies in foreign countries. And even when they go abroad, Canadian students confine their studies to American, UK or Australian schools (according to data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education, or CBIE). And that—according to a report from the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa—is a lost opportunity for the students as well as for Canada.…

International Students Give High Marks to Canadian Schools

Though Canadian post-secondary students remain reticent to do any or all of their studies abroad (only two per cent do so during their undergraduate years), the inbound flow of international students far exceeds any of the most optimistic projections for this intellectual migration. According to data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), there were 494,525 international students in Canada at all grade levels (elementary to post-graduate) in 2017—75 per cent of them in universities, colleges, and CEGEPs. Why has Canada become such a magnet for international students? Certainly the prospect of high-quality education in a safe, secure, and welcoming country has a lot to do with it. But it is also enhanced by federal and provincial government incentives to allow easier routes to permanent residency after graduation, work permits during undergraduate years, broad availability of affordable health insurance options (provincial government-sponsored or private programs), and a welcoming…

Got your Passport, but Confused about Brexit?

If you’ve never heard the word “Brexit”—be grateful. But if you are a traveller with a Canadian or US passport, and you’re heading to the UK or anywhere in Europe, you may want to review a few ground rules. Regardless what happens in the cage-fight between Britain and the EU, in the short run it will have no effect on you as a traveller. What happens in the long run is anybody’s guess, but for the next few months at least you need make no alterations to your plans. As the holder of a valid passport (preferably with at least six months left before it expires) you will still be able to travel freely to any part of Britain (or Ireland) and most countries of Europe. If you go to Britain and continue on to Europe, you will need your passport for each entry. What is Schengen? Even the…

Snowbird Guide to Medical Marijuana

Since 2015, when Prime Minister Trudeau committed Canada to full legalization of marijuana, the number of registered users of medical cannabis products soared from an estimated 24,000 to more than 330,000. And, for a nation of committed cannabis users (according to Statista—an international marketing research firm—41 per cent of Canadian adults confirm having used marijuana at some point in their lives), that appears to be just the beginning. In the United States, the approach to legalization is more ambivalent. Though the federal government prohibits the use of cannabis in any form (recreational or medical), 30 states and D.C. have so far legalized its use to some extent (26 allowing limited use medicinally, nine allowing both recreational and medicinal use). But those numbers change from month to month as the trend toward outright legalization creeps along. What does this mean for Canadians, particularly snowbirds, who rely on marijuana products and derivatives…

Canadians Continue to Embrace Cruise Vacations, But Need to Consider Travel Insurance Pitfalls

In 2018, close to 960,000 Canadians will have embarked on a cruise—almost 39 per cent more than in 2010, according to estimates reported by the Conference Board of Canada (CBOC). Citing data provided by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the CBOC projected that it was cruisers from Canada’s Atlantic region who posted the largest average annual rate of growth in embarkations since 2010—11.6 per cent from then to the end of 2017. The report also indicates that while the average age of Canadian ocean and river cruisers in 2017 was 51, there was a discernable distinction in age cohorts between those taking longer itineraries such as trans-Atlantic or exploration cruises (which tend to attract older travellers), and shorter Caribbean cruises which are more popular among younger travellers. For example, the average age of Canadian passengers on cruises to the Panama Canal/South America, Antarctica, Galapagos, or the Arctic is 66;…

The Real Value of Travel Insurance: Staying in Touch

It’s just a little over three years since Paris was stunned by a terrorist attack in the heart of the city, with 130 people shot dead—mostly young people having fun at a concert. It made those of us who have come to know Paris stop in our tracks. And now we have again witnessed scenes of protesters in yellow vests disrupting this city of lights with anti-government demonstrations: cars being burned, fires set, graffiti marring the Arc de Triomphe, tourists and visitors running from those sites they have come so far to see. And this is Paris, one of the world’s most visited cities. Is any place safe anymore? Is London safe, or Barcelona, or Brussels, or Nice, or Las Vegas? For travel insurers, whose predominant mission is to safeguard their customers when they leave home, there is increasing need, and opportunity, to bring value to their clients beyond helping…

Navigating Expat Insurance? Know the Rules, Know the Territory

Whether some form of Brexit occurs or not, Canadian business travellers and expatriates heading abroad will need to monitor changes to visa rules and health insurance requirements when planning trips to the UK or the remaining countries of the European Union. Unlike Canada’s single-payer healthcare system, by which provincial governments mandate the services to be provided, set the fees for those services, pay the providers, and forbid private entities from competing, most European systems allow—even encourage—a variable blending of public and privately funded health insurance. The UK, for example, offers access to its highly respected National Health Service to expatriates who meet certain residency requirements, but many prefer to “upgrade” to private plans that fill in coverage gaps, shorten wait times for referrals and certain services, and allow access to private hospitals and specialist networks. (As members of the EU, UK residents have access to the European Health Insurance Card…

Canadian Snowbirds in Texas: Persistent, But Still at Risk

Canadians make more than two million leisure trips to Mexico annually, more than to any other country after the United States, even though the governments of Canada, the US, Britain, and other nations continue to issue travel warnings regarding certain sectors of the country. For Canada’s travel industry, especially insurers, this presents something of a quandary because travellers who encounter unexpected health problems or other disruptions to their travel plans while in certain areas of Mexico under travel warnings may find severe limitations on their coverage benefits. And sometimes it doesn’t take much to wander into such areas—as happens often to Canadians who winter in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and walk over a footbridge into the state of Tamaulipas—an “Avoid Non-essential Travel” zone. Fortunately, the small, circumscribed tourist zone that Canada’s “Winter Texans” frequent daily is well fortified, and relatively free of crime or other disturbances. But wander beyond, and…

Health Insurance Is a Key Factor in International Students’ Choice of Canadian College

When the Government of Manitoba de-listed provincial health care as a “right” for foreign students at its universities this September, reaction to the move revealed just how significant health care insurance was to students’ choice of school. As one student from Nigeria enrolled at the University of Manitoba told local media, “free” health care was an important factor when he was deciding where to attend university. He added, “It was a big issue when I was considering Manitoba.” The student, who as a foreign national was paying at least two to three times the tuition and fees charged domestic students, was reacting to the provincial government’s repeal of a 2012 clause to the Health Insurance Act that offered foreign students access to its provincial health care scheme—access which covered not only them, but their spouses and dependents. The repeal was expected to save Manitoba taxpayers $3.1 million while costing foreign…

Put the “Serious” Back in Travel Insurance

Where is the logic? Some people will take two or three trips to an appliance store before deciding on a new flat-screen TV costing them over $1,000; they will grill the salesperson about the pros and cons of this set or that; and they’ll scour the fine print details to make sure their purchase meets their specific needs. Yet when purchasing a long-term travel insurance policy, without which they might lose their life savings, they’re OK to do the purchase over the phone or online in three minutes, and don’t think twice about throwing the policy in a drawer unread after receiving it from their agent. According to a recent survey of Canadian travellers done by a trade group representing travel insurers, less than half (48 per cent) of respondents said they normally check their travel insurance coverage before taking their trips; 35 per cent admitted being unsure what their…

US Lifts Ban on Pot Workers, But Travel Rules Remain—For Now

The announcement by the US Customs and Border Protection agency that it will not impede Canadians who work in the rapidly growing cannabis industry from entering the United States for routine leisure or non-business travel suggests an easing of the federal government’s long-standing prohibition of marijuana use and commerce. The CBP statement, published on its website, reads: “A Canadian citizen working or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S., however if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for a reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.” The CBP clarification followed several weeks of speculation about how stringently CBP officers would enforce border restrictions on not only Canadian cannabis workers, but all other Canadian travellers whose own government has permitted them to…

Goodbye NAFTA. Hello USMCA. Hold on to Your Health Insurance

Canada’s new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico (replacing NAFTA) has gone through a tortuous negotiation, but finally has been completed. And according to the new rules built into USMCA (US, Mexico, Canada Agreement) there are no changes to visa requirements for workers and professionals affected by the new accord. The old NAFTA rules remain for business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors. (For details or updates on those rules, you can visit the Government of Canada’s website.) In short, the agreement doesn’t change a member country’s general immigration regulations governing public health, safety, and national security; and, significantly for workers and professionals posted abroad for long periods, it still doesn’t make provisions for any kind of reciprocity for health care coverage as has been a staple for individuals and companies operating within European Union countries. USMCA (like its forerunner NAFTA) is tied to trade, and…

Travelling Abroad? You Can’t Take Canada’s Cannabis with You

Canada’s marijuana legalization has attracted international media headlines the way few other Canadian actions have in recent memory—much more newsworthy than its freeing up of marijuana for medical purposes several years ago. And, as might be expected, the October 17 enactment of the new pot laws has spawned hugely speculative and grossly sensational alarms about what Canadians (including snowbirds) might expect when crossing over into the US this coming winter season. Let’s first establish one point above all: Canada’s legalization of cannabis is a domestic issue. It is applicable in Canada only. It has no impact on any other country’s laws or rules. In time it may certainly influence what other countries do—but not yet. The Canadian government is quite clear when it warns that “carrying any cannabis or cannabis product (legal or illegal) across Canada’s border will remain a serious criminal offence, with individuals convicted of engaging in such…

Visiting the US This Winter? Let’s Review the Rules—Part 1

It’s that time of year again: time to review the rules that govern how long you can stay out of the country without risking loss of your provincial health insurance benefits, how long you may stay in the US as a visitor, and if there are any changes in the rules you need to pay particular attention to. And this year, we’re going to do our review in two parts—the second dealing with new and vital information you need to know about Canada’s cannabis laws (for recreational or prescribed medical use) before leaving the country or approaching any other international border. You don’t need to be a marijuana user to be affected by these laws—so stay tuned. But first: the rules for visiting the US—Canada’s favourite vacation location There are no major changes in the B2 (non-immigrant tourist) visa rules for Canadian citizens wishing to visit the United States.…

Is Relief in Sight for Medical Student Debt?

For many of Canada’s best and brightest, the prospect of a career in medicine is dampened by the reality of mounting student debt, into the six figures in many cases. And it’s not just obtaining the MD that’s challenging: it’s the years beyond, working toward the specialty accreditation that generates the fees needed to pay off that debt—a need that often diverts graduates away from lesser-paying fields like family medicine. It’s a vicious cycle. But a recent announcement from New York University School of Medicine that it will begin offering free tuition to all current and future students—regardless of need—sparks some hope that new ways of funding medical education may be taking root. NYU, one of America’s top 10 medical schools (where the average annual cost is $55,018 USD), is taking the step thanks to an endowment from private sources that is currently valued at $450 million and is aiming…

New Surveys Show Canadian Travel to the US Is Up—and So Is Insurance Coverage

Despite a plethora of news stories asserting deteriorating relationships between Canada and the US over trade and political differences, it appears Canadians have not pared back their leisure travel plans south of the border to their most favoured vacation destinations. In fact, according to new data reported by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) and Statistics Canada, Canadian leisure trips to the US lasting at least one night increased in 2017 by almost 4.5 per cent from 2016’s number, rising to 15.5 million—the first annual increase since 2013. Overall, Canadians made over 25.5 million leisure trips out of the country (to both the US and abroad) in 2017, more than in the previous two years.   More than three-quarters maintain travel coverage The CBoC survey also commissioned a poll of Canadians to determine their travel insurance buying habits. It found that 78 per cent of those who had travelled out…

Foreign College Studies for Canadians—Right Next Door

Given that their parents are such zealous travellers, the reticence of Canadian post-secondary school students to study abroad even for short periods or exchanges is somewhat mystifying. As we see in the story linked above, concerns about transferability of credits and the prospect of “a lot of hard work” tend to keep most Canadian students homebound—unexposed to foreign cultures, mores, climates, and temptations. And then there are the costs. But one of the lesser-known channels to foreign studies—perhaps even for short-term trial periods—may lie in the discounted tuition programs offered by US colleges and universities (some established by state legislation) specifically for Canadian students. How about the Sunshine State? For example, in 1987, the Florida legislature set up a Florida-Canada linkage program offering Canadian students admissions to some 40 state-funded colleges and universities at the same subsidized tuition levels offered to state residents—all in the interests of developing stronger…

Canadians Show Growing Satisfaction with Travel Insurance

Travel insurers have long been criticized for the complexity of their policies, heavy-handed use of medical and legal language in their applications, and their alleged tendency to deny, deny, deny claims. But according to a new public opinion research poll, commissioned by the Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance (CAFII), a non-governmental, non-profit watchdog association advocating a more transparent insurance marketplace, more than 8 out of 10 Canadians who have purchased travel insurance are satisfied with the value they receive from the products they buy. Furthermore, according to a press release issued by CAFII, 98 per cent of people who made travel medical insurance claims in the past year said they were fully or partially paid, with only 2 per cent of claims being rejected. In addition, 91 per cent of claimants said they were satisfied with their claim experience from initial contact to final outcome. According to the…

New Canadian Biometric Requirements in Place for International Students and Other Visa Holders

As of July 31, 2018, international students applying for Canadian student visas from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are required to provide biometric facial photos and fingerprint data to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers when entering the country. The requirements will also apply to applicants for visitor, work, permanent residency, or refugee asylum visas. Applicants already in Canada are temporarily exempt from the requirements pending the establishment of biometric application processing centres in Canada starting in 2019. Canada’s Biometric Initiative program, which is designed to ease legitimate travel to Canada while protecting national security and preventing identify fraud, will be extended to applicants from Asia, Asia- Pacific, and the Americas starting December 31, 2018. Canada already collects biometric data from refugee applicants from 30 countries. Tourists from visa-exempt countries with valid Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA) are exempt from the requirement, as are: Canadian citizens US nationals Citizenship…

Canadian Universities Get High Marks for Education, But a Bum Rap for the Weather

No generation is more susceptible to being influenced by the blogosphere and social media rants than applicants to colleges and universities—especially those anticipating studies in distant foreign countries. It’s challenging enough sorting through the academic choices, admission standards, visa requirements, and financial commitments that are critical to making choices about where to apply without also factoring in language barriers, social customs, and basic living issues like weather. Weather? To judge by the narratives floated in various forms of media directed at aspiring international students, discussions about weather appear to be a priority. Universities in Florida, Arizona, and Southern California use weather as a big recruiting plus—for obvious reasons. It seems to work. Bundle up? But when describing college choices in Canada, once the narrators get past the great cost advantages and international esteem given Canadian universities—the second or third paragraph of the blog or article tends to focus on…

When Hurricanes Threaten, Here’s What Travel Insurance Can and Cannot Do for Your Clients

With the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic basin approaching, travel insurance vendors need to reinforce not only the value of cancellation/interruption policies to clients planning trips to storm-prone areas, but make sure clients understand these plans’ limitations and exclusions as well. Travellers need to understand that trip cancellation insurance is designed to cover only prepaid monetary losses that are not refundable by the travel supplier—reservation deposits, payments for tour packages, cruise ship tickets. It’s not meant to compensate for the disappointment of a lost “dream trip.” If your client’s Caribbean cruise is shortened by two or three days due to a mechanical failure or an unscheduled rerouting to a safer port and the cruise line offers a make-up voucher for future travel, that’s considered a refund and disqualifies the need for a claim. Same story if an airline leaves the client stranded and then offers a voucher for…

Tips for Travel Insurance Agents: Assist Your Customer, But Protect Your Trust

When travel insurance claims are denied based on non-disclosure or failure to provide accurate medical information, it can easily generate tension or mistrust between the customer and the agent who sold and “processed” the policy. This is especially so if the medical questionnaire is done verbally over the phone (or online) and the customer is unfamiliar with the medical terms used, or is unfamiliar with his or her own medical records, or simply unaware of the consequences of non-disclosure. A claim denial comes as a shock to any insured person and the first reaction will often be to deflect the blame—to the doctor for not sharing pertinent medical information, to the wife for not properly completing her husband’s medical questionnaire, or to the agent who didn’t “take the time” to explain the medical terms or didn’t emphasize that any change in health status prior to the effective date of coverage…

Tips for Canadian Students Taking their Medical Marijuana on Vacation

With Canada on the verge of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (it has been approved for medical purposes since 2001), Canadians studying in the US or abroad, and the half million international students enrolled in Canadian colleges and universities, need to understand the rules about what is or is not legal usage, and how a little carelessness in their travel habits can ruin or seriously disrupt their academic careers. Because the bulk of Canada’s population is clustered close to the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific, weekend or short vacation trips across the border (such as student spring breaks) are an integral part of college life—for international as well as domestic students. We must caution that international students who are not natives of visa waiver countries may need special documentation to visit the US—but all students, Canadian citizens or foreign passport holders, are urged by the Canadian government…

Canada’s Travel Insurers, Be Warned: Privacy Breaches Will Cost You Big Time

For travel insurance producers, vendors, brokers, and in fact any professional gathering or storing personal information about a client, the rules for maintaining strict privacy are intensifying, as are the penalties attached to them. And we’re not talking about slaps on the wrist. On May 25, 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, termed by the experts as the strictest data-protection law in the world) came into effect to harmonize data protection laws of all EU member states. The law is intended to ensure that all personal data from individuals in the EU are protected; that gatherers of that data deal in a fully transparent fashion; and that customers have new and greater privacy rights and control over how their information is used by those who collect it and pass it on to others. How serious is the EU about its GDPR? Maximum penalty for non-compliance is four…

International Students Love Montreal

Once again, Montreal has been ranked as the top North American city for international students in the highly prestigious QS University Rankings for 2018, the only Canadian city to make it to the top 10 most favoured slots. Noted by QS as Canada’s “cultural capital,” Montreal is applauded for its “multicultural makeup and inclusive ethos” as well as its laidback yet lively lifestyle, attractive boulevards, thriving creative industries, café culture, eclectic range of arts venues and nightlife—not to forget its internationally ranked universities. (McGill is currently ranked as 32nd in the world, and both the University of Montreal and Concordia University have also achieved respectable rankings.) To put matters in a tighter perspective, Montreal has slipped out of last year’s first-place ranking to be replaced in the #1 spot by London, then Tokyo, then Melbourne, in that order—but it remains ahead of all other Canadian cities and any or all…

The Eight-Month US Visa for Canadian Retirees: A Myth That Keeps on Coming

It happens every couple of years: broadcast and print media announce in bold headlines that Canadian retirees 55 years or older who can afford a second home in the US (owned or leased) will soon be allowed to live there for up to eight full months per year instead of the 182 days they are currently allowed under the B2 visitor visa. Sounds like great news for snowbirds who prefer slathering on sunscreen to shovelling snow. Just this month, an opinion piece in Canada’s Financial Post warned that tax increases on Canada’s middle classes were fuelling a brain drain of doctors, nurses, tech workers, and entrepreneurs to the US and elsewhere, adding, “Just watch the enormous economic damage done when Congress extends its permission for snowbirds by two months—to eight months a year—to stay in the U.S. without becoming taxable.” Well, let’s just hang on here As I said,…

Why Are Canadians Hesitant About Studying Abroad?

Canadians are among the most inveterate travellers in the world: over 23 million leisure trips abroad every year—not bad for a total population of 36 million. That covers all age groups—including the very old and the very young. And the world is reciprocating, with international tourist numbers hitting new peaks year after year and with foreign students flocking to Canadian colleges and universities to take advantage of world-class educational opportunities at tuition rates far below those in the United States. At top colleges across the nation, foreign students comprise 20 to 30 per cent of undergraduate enrollees—ditto for graduate programs. But there is one area of internationalization that is clearly lagging, to the concern of Canadian educators and business leaders: that is the reluctance of well-qualified Canadian students taking up the challenge (and denying themselves the rewards) of studying abroad—full-term or short-term. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education…

Canadian Travellers to Cancun: Be Vigilant

With more than two million Canadians visiting Mexico annually, travel insurers and other travel professionals need to warn their clients of increasing violence (due mostly to drug cartel activity) in the highly popular tourist area in and surrounding Cancun. More than half of all Canadian visits to Mexico are made to Cancun, and Mexico is Canadians’ second-most-visited country, next to the US. So far this year, 113 people have been killed in the Cancun area. The most recent spate of violence occurred in early April, when 14 murders (all considered drug-trade-related) occurred within 36 hours—generating headlines in newspapers around the world. Though Mexican authorities have explained that most of these deaths were confined to individuals involved in the growing drug cartel wars, there have been some innocent bystanders killed or wounded; and armed military guards have since been stationed at key points throughout the area to safeguard tourist resorts and…

Canadian Travel Trade Trends Remain Strong for 2018/2019

Despite persistently negative media coverage of US political affairs (including volatile NAFTA negotiations), Canadian leisure travel to the US increased for the first time in four years in 2017—up 4.5 per cent over 2016—indicating that vendors of travel insurance may continue to enjoy robust market growth south of the border. According to a recent report from the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), when asked about those factors that influenced their travel decisions, the “vast majority” of (Canadian) outbound travellers reported that disease/outbreaks (64.9 per cent), political uncertainty (60.2 per cent), terrorism/security concerns (59.4 per cent), and extreme weather events (54.6 per cent) had no impact on their trip planning. On the other hand, the ups and downs of the loonie vis-à-vis the US dollar did have some effect on travel decisions. Fortunately, the relative strength of the loonie throughout much of 2017 did have a salutary effect on travel to…

Applying to a Canadian University? Join the Throng, But Plan Your Health Insurance Well

As Canadian universities step up recruitment of foreign students—whose tuition may range up to two or three times that of domestic students, depending on the province—some questions are being raised about the perception that domestic applicants may be losing out, even when they have higher grade point averages. In a contentious research report, University of British Columbia economist and associate professor Peter Wylie observes that some BC high school graduates are being denied entry to campuses of their choice or even forced to go out of province, while international students with the same or lesser grade point averages are being accepted. In response to Professor Wylie’s comments, UBC Vice-Provost Pamela Ratner, who oversees enrollments, charges that “it is a myth that international students displaced domestic students.” She adds that “international and domestic students do not compete with each other when UBC is reviewing student applications; they are adjudicated in separate…

Travel Insurance Sellers and Customers Need to Get on the Same Page

As Canadian insurance regulators intensify their efforts to enhance consumer protections and confidence in travel insurance, brokers and agents are faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, simplifying the purchase of products; on the other hand, ensuring they are appropriate for the specific health and travel needs of their customers. It’s a balancing act that often pits the imperatives of medical underwriters against those of marketers. And it doesn’t get any easier when clients in less-than-perfect heath are confronted by the need to complete—often by telephone, or via the Internet—health questionnaires replete with medical (and legal) terminology that requires searching out definitions further down the page or in another part of the policy. Interviewing applicants is no easy job For agents assisting customers in completing applications by phone, navigating through multilayered questions and recording their responses accurately is no easy job. Without actually recording the interviews, there is…

Mexico Travel Warning for Parents of Student Spring Breakers

Recent Canadian and US government warnings cautioning travellers about potential terrorist activity in Mexico’s Western Caribbean resort area of Quintana Roo state (including Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa Carmen) have once again emphasized the need for travel insurance for all ages, especially teenage students who are “breaking loose” for spring and Easter vacations. The warnings, issued by both governments on March 7 and 8, came in the wake of an explosion on one tourist ferry travelling from Playa Carmen to Cozumel, and the discovery of an unexploded bomb on another. These events have firmed up evidence of new drug cartel activity reaching into these areas, which thus far had been relatively free of the violence wracking much of the northern and western (Pacific) states in recent years. The government warnings, based on unidentified “ongoing security threats,” have subsequently been narrowed down, but the US State Department continues to restrict its own…

Canadian Students Shouldn’t Be Wary of Studying Abroad

Canadians make almost 30 million overnight trips to foreign countries in a year—not bad for a nation with only 36 million people. But when it comes to Canada’s students travelling abroad for post-secondary education, the numbers are not nearly so impressive. After all, the value of exposure to foreign cultures, different ways of doing business, multi-language literacy, and knowledge of foreign history and customs are increasingly valuable components in dealing with globalization. Yet according to Academica Group, a Canadian think tank devoted to fostering “meaningful, generative dialogue about the future of education in Canada,” only 3.1 per cent of full-time university students and 1.1 per cent of full-time college students have studied abroad as part of their postsecondary education. According to surveys done by Academica, though 58 per cent of respondents said they planned on travelling abroad after graduating, 57 per cent of those cited a “desire to see the…

Buying a Cruise? Choose Carefully—It’s Not Always Paradise

Over the next 12 months, Canadians will take more than 750,000 ocean cruises, most of them heading out of ports in the Southern US, mostly from Florida, Texas, or California. Cruising is the fastest-growing vacation activity for Canadians of almost all age groups, and that’s not likely to change given the number of new vessels. There is no shortage of choice, either in itinerary or price point. But that does not mean you should make your cruise choice casually, without doing some homework. Along with the romantic appeal and imagery that cruise lines use in selling their products, there are some darker stories about ships being stranded due to mechanical problems, intrusions of Norovirus, the occasional “man or woman overboard” horror story, and every once in a while a story like one published recently in the Miami Herald concerning ships failing to meet government-established sanitary standards, with spot inspectors finding…

Heads Up for Quebec Travel Insurers: Are Warning Labels in Your Future?

Are travel insurance products becoming too complicated to be sold directly to consumers over the Internet or through social media outlets? According to Flavio Vani, president of Quebec’s financial advisors’ organization Association professionnelle des conseillers en services financiers (APCSF), if pending legislation (Bill 141) is enacted in the National Assembly later this year, as expected, all online purchases of insurance products offered in the province without the advice of a registered financial professional should carry warnings similar to those posted on cigarette packages. In an interview for the Insurance and Investment Journal, Vani states that the APCSF has submitted a proposal to the Quebec government asserting that it wants direct sales of financial products to carry an explicit warning that online purchases of insurance products without the advice of a registered professional (who would first analyze the customer’s personal financial situation) “could have a significant impact on an individual and…