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…

StudyInsured Has Been Named in the StudyTravel ST Star Awards 2018

We are pleased to announce that StudyInsured has been named in the Service Provider category of this year’s StudyTravel magazine ST Star Awards. The annual peer-voted ST Star Awards were first held in 2006 and reward quality across 25 categories, including travel agencies, language providers, vocational colleges, secondary schools, service providers and associations. StudyInsured has been providing best-in-class travel insurance to international students under the Ingle International Group of Companies since 1946. Giving peace of mind to educational institutions and students worldwide, this nomination represents some of the great strides StudyInsured has made in the last 12 months, with new product offerings, improved mental health support and our brand-new initiative to give back to school partners. The winner of each category will be revealed at an awards ceremony, held on the second evening of ST Alphe UK in London on September 1, 2018. Voting closes on April 26, 2018. …

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…

E-cigarettes: The Rise of Vaping and its Effects on International Students

Are you an international student? Do you smoke e-cigarettes? If you answered yes to both, then it may be time you double-checked the small print on your insurance policy. Many insurance plans do not cover injuries incurred while under the influence of illicit substances, something that is becoming increasingly common to add to e-cigarette devices. E-cigarettes (otherwise known as vapes) became hugely popular in the North American and European markets in 2009, with sales experiencing exponential growth ever since. It’s estimated that Canada has between 308,000 and 946,000 vape users, with numbers steadily climbing each year. Despite many governments around the world—including the US and the European Union—introducing new regulations to govern vaping, there has been a surge in children and young adults who are up the habit. It is believed that today more high school children and college students use e-cigarettes than those who smoke. While some scientists believe…

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…

Five Tips to Speed up Your Travel Insurance Claim

When purchasing travel insurance, holiday-goers are buying into the promise that they will have peace of mind for their vacation. That doesn’t just involve accident or non-accident protection. It extends to the turnaround time of the insurance company once a claim has been made, and the speed in which the insured gets paid. Travellers are often worried about receiving payment from their insurance company after making a claim. What they don’t realize, however, is that insurance claim turnarounds are often held up due to a lack of healthorganization from the insured. Submitting your travel insurance claim correctly will help expedite the claims process. Read on to find out our top tips for submitting your travel insurance claim correctly. Choose wisely It’s important to choose the right travel insurance policy for you. The policy should cover your individual medical needs, should prepare you for non-medical assistance if needed, and should…

Mental Health: What it Means for International Students and How You Can Help

Travel blogs and the Instagram community have set a narrative, from the outside at least, that those who live abroad for an extended period of time are extroverts, with a healthy state of mind. This simply isn’t true, and I’m sure many of those bloggers will be the first to admit it. Travelling and studying abroad changes every aspect of a person’s life, and this, whether for better or worse (or both), has an impact on their mental health. Studying abroad takes courage. It requires a young person to jump into the unknown. The reality of studying abroad is that a young adult is taken out of their comfort zone; they are away from their childhood friends, in a different country to their family, and, in many cases, delving into an entirely new way of living and perceiving the world. This adjustment takes time. Those extra pressures are adding to…

Chinese New Year 2018: Why is it year of the dog and what does it mean?

Happy Chinese New Year 2018! The annual event marks one of the most colourful and lively celebrations, with festivals held in most major cities across the world. Chinese New Year brings with it vibrant parades and colourful celebrations, but what is Chinese New Year? When is it celebrated and what does it mean? Chinese New Year has become a global celebration. Not only is it celebrated by the country of China and those with Chinese ancestry, it’s celebrated by people from across the world, of all different cultures and religions. Some 3 billion trips are expected to be taken during the Chinese New Year, so travellers should be prepared for delays and security risks no matter where they’re heading. Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese holiday known as Spring Festival. How is Chinese New Year celebrated?  Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is…

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…

Robin Ingle Talks Millennials in Insurance with Insurance Business Canada

With a large portion of the insurance industry set to retire within the next few years, insurance companies have a serious need for  fresh talent—yet studies show that only 4 per cent of millennials see insurance as an attractive career choice. Clearly, the insurance industry needs to rethink how it engages millennials with the jobs it has to offer. This April, Insurance Business Canada’s Toronto conference Millennials in Insurance tackled the question of how to bring more millennials into the industry, and Ingle International CEO Robin Ingle was on hand to lend his expertise to the day’s first panel: “Back to Basics: How to Attract Millennials to the Insurance Industry.” The discussion was moderated by Vinita Jajware, president of the Toronto Insurance Women’s Association, and looked at everything from leveraging technology into new roles to enhancing candidate perceptions of the industry. Robin joined panelists Margaret Parent of the Insurance Institute…

What Is a Companion Discount and How Can it Save Money for Canadian Travellers?

Canadians love to travel, particularly when it involves jetting off with a family member or friend. In fact, the latest outbound data for travelling Canadians saw a new record set for the number of trips to overseas countries this past fall. Some 1.1 million Canadian residents returned from overseas countries in November 2017, a rise of 6.8 per cent when compared with the same period a year earlier. These statistics don’t even include trips to the US, which also increased 5.6 per cent in the same period. With travel numbers continuing to rise across 2017, it’s fair to assume Canadians could be hitting the sky in record numbers this year. Increased foreign travel has coincided with a greater need for travel insurance, particularly when considering some countries now request that travellers show proof of medical coverage before entering their borders. Travel insurance is important for a plethora of reasons (providing…

The International Students’ Guide to Surviving a Canadian Winter

What you have heard about the Canadian winter is true: it’s cold. Whether you are an international student set to study on the Pacific shores of British Columbia, in the metropolitan hub of Toronto, or in the easterly province of Newfoundland, there’s no escaping the weather. As someone who moved to Toronto from the (albeit only slightly) warmer climate of the UK, I can certainly attest to the plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfalls. What my time in Canada has also taught me, however, is that as long as you take note of a few simple tips to stay safe and keep warm, the cold weather won’t just be bearable—it will be fun. Preparing for the worst will protect you from injuries and hopefully allow you to avoid using that all-important insurance policy you took out before moving. Bundle up Across the country’s 10 provinces and three territories, the Canadian…

Industry Insights: How to Talk to Millennials about Travel Insurance

Today, every travel insurer and distributor has the same problem: How do I talk to millennials? In this video, our CEO Robin Ingle looks at how best to communicate with this key demographic. Watch now to find out what matters to millennials when it comes to travel safety and how you can help them relate to the importance of travel insurance. https://vimeo.com/238784002 Learn more about your travel insurance options here.

For Canadian Travellers: US Travel Future is Upbeat, But Do Your Homework

With the US economy booming, thanks to a surging stock market, record low unemployment, rising wages, and sharply lowered personal and corporate taxes, consumers are showing a growing confidence about spending more of their family budgets on travel. According to the most recent report by international business consulting firm Deloitte: of the six major segments that comprise the US travel industry (airlines, lodging, car rentals, cruises, rail, and travel packaging), a strong five per cent growth is forecast for 2018, setting the USA travel industry on course to hit a record-breaking $370 billion by year’s end. For Canadian travellers, who make about 25 million overnight trips to the US annually (that doesn’t count day trippers crossing over for a few hours), that means an expanding choice of locations and activity interests at all price levels; competitive (cheaper) airline fares; more hospitality and dining options—in short, more bang for your buck.…

Travel Insurance and Drinking: Read Your Policy

Last fall, the CBC brought widespread public attention to the case of a Canadian who, while visiting relatives in the US, fell down a flight of stairs after drinking alcohol, required treatment in hospital for a brain injury, and ultimately had his travel insurance claim denied, purportedly, because he had too much to drink. The response from some in the media was mainly critical of the insurer for not having “warned” the traveller ahead of time that an accident caused by alcohol impairment could invalidate his coverage That should not have come as a surprise to anyone as every travel insurance policy issued in Canada excludes coverage for medical emergencies caused or contributed to by alcohol—or other intoxicants—just as it excludes coverage for known unstable pre-existing conditions, terminal diagnoses, and failure by those insured to disclose their true medical conditions when applying for products. Travel insurance was never designed to…

Rules for Canadian Leisure Travel to the US in 2018

If you’re planning some travel to the US in 2018 (an estimated 24 million did so in 2016), you might want to review the rules of entry, how long you can stay, what documents you need to carry, and what changes have been made to those rules since your last trip. Fortunately, there were no major changes for casual visitors, leisure travellers or snowbirds last year, but you still need to be vigilant about your crossings as the cooperation between US and Canadian border agencies continues to be more refined and precise. Don’t assume you may have slipped through once or twice without notice. For short-term visitors or snowbirds who are Canadian citizens, the key rule remains—you are allowed to be in the US for up to six months (usually interpreted by border agents as between 180 and 182 days) over any rolling 12-month period. The best way to determine…

Ingle Attends the WTTC Global Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires

With a focus on pressing issues like security, crisis preparedness and sustainable growth, this year’s World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Buenos Aires was an illuminating event on the future of the travel and tourism industry. The WTTC is a group comprised of top executives in the travel and tourism sector around the globe. Travel and tourism is a major worldwide industry, contributing over 10 per cent of the world’s GDP—a greater contribution than the automotive and chemical manufacturing sectors combined—as well as 10 per cent of all jobs around the globe. What’s more, the industry is expected to keep growing over the next decade, with 30 million new jobs on the horizon. With such a powerful impact on the world, it’s critical that the industry be committed to growing sustainably and sensibly. This is the vision of the WTTC—to create responsible partnerships that maximize the sustainable growth…

Planning to Study Abroad in Canada? Here’s What You Need to Know about Health Coverage

Because I have a 15-year-old grandson who is intent on studying medicine, I have been paying very close attention to the growing tidal wave of international students applying to Canada’s universities. I should explain that although Zachary lives in the United States, he is a dual Canadian/US citizen, and would therefore have a clearer road to enrollment at, say, the University of Toronto or McMaster than would a student with no Canadian connection who would have to navigate the various visa requirements.  I am also very aware that Canadian medical schools are a lot cheaper than comparable-quality US schools. What my research has also turned up is that as of the last census taken by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, in 2015 there were more than 350,000 international full-time students enrolled in Canadian colleges—that is almost 100,000 more than five years earlier—and is getting very close to the 450,000…

Canadian Outbound Travel Forecasts and Safety Advice for 2018

With consumer confidence the highest it’s been in four years, and with overall travel numbers for the first eight months of 2017 up 5.3 percent over the same period in 2016 (23.1 million trips—not counting single-day, cross-border travel), it appears that Canadians will be taking to the roads, skies, and seas in near-record numbers in 2018.1 That’s a good thing. But with increasing options to visit farther-flung locations coming available, you will also have to become astute navigators and travel planners. What may be a prime vacation or tour destination one day can generate warning signals overnight that need to be spotted, heeded, and avoided. Fortunately, with phone and online access to government travel advisories instantly available, there is no reason for you to be short of current information when either planning or embarking on any trip to any location—and you should take no location’s safety for granted. For example,…

Travel Navigator Has Been Nominated for an Insurance Business Award

We are pleased to announce that Travel Navigator has received a nomination in this year’s Insurance Business Awards for the IV3 Solutions Award for Excellence in Risk Management. Travel Navigator keeps over 2.5 million policyholder members informed, connected, and safe worldwide by providing them with real-time alerts, emergency assistance, and a wealth of travel and health information. With all of these resources kept right at travellers’ fingertips, Travel Navigator makes it easier than ever to manage risk on a global scale. Celebrating the best and brightest in the insurance industry, the Insurance Business Awards gathers top industry players together to recognize outstanding achievement across twenty categories. This year’s winners were announced at the Liberty Grand in Toronto on November 30. This nomination is a great honour for our company, placing our work among some of the most innovative companies in the industry. Watch some of the highlights of this year’s…

Canada’s Dual Citizens: Many “Pros,” But a Few Cautions

As Canada becomes more culturally diversified (almost one million Canadian citizens are also citizens of other countries), international travel requires increasing care and attention to detail. For example, in 2016, the Canadian government imposed a rule requiring all Canadian citizens who were also citizens of other countries to have Canadian passports when entering by air. (Canadian/US “duals” were exempted). The rule ruffled a few feathers, particularly among Canadians who had been living abroad for many years and had to scurry about trying to get passports just so they could visit family and friends “back home.” In addition, Canada is one of the most welcoming nations for citizens of other countries who wish to be permanent residents—which means, if they are successful in obtaining PR status, they have virtually all of the rights and responsibilities of citizens, except the right to vote, or run for elected office. But they are also…

Partner with Your Doctor when Applying for Travel Insurance

Among the most frequent stories I hear from Canadians who have had their travel insurance claim denied are: “My doctor never told me I had a heart murmur” or “he didn’t say that heart pill was for atrial fibrillation” or “my CT scan didn’t show anything abnormal”—so why would they have reported any of this on their application? Why? Because it’s up to you to know what’s in your medical record when filling out an insurance application—and if your claim is denied for non-disclosure or because you had a pre-existing condition that wasn’t “stable,” you are the one who will have to pay the bill. And no matter how strongly your family doctor protests your denial in a letter after the fact, you are still responsible for providing accurate and up-to-date information to the insurer. The decision to pay your claim or deny it will be made on the basis…

Visitors to Canada Travel Protection: Know Your Options (Part 2)

In the Part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of Visitors to Canada plans. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the details your visitors will need to consider when purchasing their insurance. Visitors to Canada travel protection plans come in various shapes and sizes. These are not “one size fits all” products. The first rule is to buy travel insurance before your visitors leave home—to become effective when they first set foot in Canada. If you or your visitors buy insurance after they arrive, they will be subject to a waiting period—two, three, or even five days—before coverage for any sickness becomes effective. (Coverage for accidents is effective immediately.) In most cases, if you’re buying or ordering a plan for a parent or relative who will be staying with you for a short time, a single-trip policy is best. But be careful if…

Expecting Visitors to Canada? Protect Them and Yourselves with Health Insurance (Part 1)

One of the most baffling myths passed on about Canadian health care is that it’s free. Far from it: you pay for it very handsomely in your taxes every time you buy gas, a pair of shoes, or a case of beer. In fact, you pay some of the highest costs for health care in the industrialized world, even though you pay nothing when you visit your doctor or a hospital for routine or emergency care. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that same “generosity” will be extended to a friend or relative from another country visiting you over the coming holidays. Let’s face it: hospitals are not the charitable institutions they once were. They may be funded by their provincial governments, but only for care of their residents.  All others pay cash—or, if they’re from another province, by funds transferred out of their own provincial treasuries. A…

Ingle International Empowers Students to Take Care of their Mental Health

Studying abroad is a great adventure that can challenge students’ perspectives and limits and teach them new things about themselves and the world they live in. Health challenges, however, can be difficult for international students to handle—especially when they are in an unfamiliar place and far from their usual support network. Staying healthy abroad goes beyond regular doctor’s visits and standard hygiene. There are a variety of stressors that students face, especially when studying far from home. Mental health and wellness challenges such as anxiety and depression are an increasing concern. What’s more, being in a new culture brings its own stresses from managing your nutrition with unfamiliar cuisine to even navigating new customs—all this alongside more familiar student concerns like battling that flu that’s making the rounds. Ingle International’s Stay Healthy at School program is here to help students mitigate these challenges. All Ingle International’s student groups have access…

Susanne Hendrickson Joins Ingle International as Director of Sales

Ingle International is pleased to welcome Susanne Hendrickson to the position of Director of Sales. Susanne will be accountable for leading the sales and marketing activities with a focus on the international student market and expansion into Canada’s west coast. In her role at Ingle International, Susanne will contribute to the strategic business development of StudyInsured.com, as well as the Pay-it-Forward initiative in which Ingle International has committed to give back to its partner schools. Speaking of her new position, Susanne said: “Ingle International is a great company that has built its reputation on more than 70 years in the insurance industry. My mandate is to build awareness for the StudyInsured brand while increasing sales across Canada, and worldwide. She added: “By cultivating long-term partnerships to better serve our clients I believe we can expand our reach and provide top notch products at reasonable costs to ensure our clients peace…

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Cruising?

It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of taking a cruise was linked in one’s mind with leisure: “getting away from it all,” sipping cool drinks in deck chairs, and watching tropical sunsets. No longer. As cruise vessels get bigger and bigger (5,000 passengers is now routine) and the focus of activities turn ever inward—to what the ship has to offer rather than what the itinerary and ports of call provide—you’re going to need a lot of experience with technology to get the most out of your cruise. I’m talking about smartphones, apps, virtual reality headsets, and so on. Better bring your grandkids along. Recently, Royal Caribbean Cruises previewed some of the super-high-tech plans it has for “enhancing” the cruise experience of the future, and it’s about as far away as you can get from the “romance” of the old tramp steamer sailing on the high tide for Trinidad…

More on the Wretched 30-Day US Cross-Border Rule

Of all questions that come across my desk from confused readers, the one most difficult to explain, or justify, concerns the US immigration rule that requires vacationing Canadians to count side trips of 30 days or less, be they back home or to Mexico, as part of their allotted 180-day stay in the US. If those trips are over 30 days, they are not added to the 180-day tally, and the return to the US is counted as a separate trip. This becomes more confusing if our Canadian visitors  become entangled in the seemingly contradictory rules governing the B2 visa (which allows most Canadians to stay in the US for up to 180 days per 12 months), and their obligation to file IRS forms (8840) if they spend large chunks of time in the US each year. Different purposes. Different rules. Let’s sort it out—The easiest first Under the…

Dr. Michael Szabo Speaks at ITIC Global 2017 in Barcelona

This year’s ITIC Global Conference was held in Barcelona, where we joined over 900 attendees from across the travel and health insurance industry. We had a great time networking and trading insights with our peers at this year’s event. One of the highlights of the conference for us was the Medical Directors’ Forum, which gathered together medical directors of assistance and air ambulance companies around the world to discuss their concerns within the industry. Our own Dr. Michael Szabo, medical director of Ingle International, was there to take part in the discussions and give a presentation of his own on the difficult topic of “insuring the uninsurable.” Using a case study of a high-profile claim as a focal point, Dr. Szabo’s presentation tackled tough questions around travellers with pre-existing conditions—and their ability to easily purchase insurance policies over the Internet that they are ineligible for. Among the questions discussed were:…

Pamela Kwiatkowski Joins Ingle International as Senior Vice-President of Distribution & Client Experience

TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2017 /CNW/ – Ingle International is pleased to announce the appointment of Pamela Kwiatkowski as Senior Vice-President of Distribution & Client Experience. In her new role, Pamela brings her extensive expertise in building productive partnerships to grow Ingle’s business relationships. Pamela brings nearly 30 years of experience in the life and health insurance industry, where she has worked with insurers, MGAs, affinity groups, and advisors to help grow and develop their distribution network through solid sales, marketing plans, and strategic initiatives. Pamela is strongly focused on digital solutions that deliver products and services to the end user and result in an exceptional customer experience—and increased revenue for her clients. Pamela began her career in insurance at Ingle International, where she worked from 1987 to 2001. Ingle is thrilled to see Pamela return with a wider breadth of experiences that have given her enhanced insight into the industry. Now, through best-in-class travel insurance and…

Know Who Pays When Your Flight Doesn’t Go Up

This past summer, two of the UK’s biggest airlines stranded hundreds of thousands of travellers in distant locations by cancelling flights at the last minute and invalidating reservations for future flights already planned: Ryanair because of pilot scheduling problems, and Monarch Airlines because it suddenly went out of business—virtually overnight. What about all of those passengers left stranded overseas? Thanks to some quick action by Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, and a special consumer protection program in which most vacationers book their trips with specially licensed and bonded travel organizers, most were returned home relatively quickly on aircraft chartered by the CAA at no cost to themselves. But at first glance it was not quite so clear as angered passengers were told by airline staff to call their travel insurers for assistance home and recompense for the costs of making and paying for alternate arrangements. At which point the Association of…

2018 Travel Tips for Cuba and Mexico—What Happens Now?

Cuba and Mexico, hit by severe natural disasters this fall, would ordinarily welcome more than 2.5 million Canadians between them this coming year, most during the first four months of 2018. But tourism services in both countries—Cuba battered by Hurricane Irma, and Mexico by two massive earthquakes—are on edge, wondering if the anticipated flow of foreign visitors will dry up given the images of mass destruction that were transmitted out of their countries in September. Let’s take them one at a time. Cuba Despite the dramatic pictures of gigantic surf breaking over Havana’s Malecón (the iconic waterfront esplanade), and the flooding along the entire north shore of this tourism-dependent country, most hotels, restaurants, rum and cigar factories, and historic sites are expected to be fully operational and ready for the winter season beginning in December. Though news of Irma forced a spate of hotel cancellations for early 2018, the…

Can an American Hospital Sue a Canadian Patient?

The hospital bill for an emergency appendectomy in St. Petersburg, Florida, arrives at your home in Canada shortly after you return from your vacation: four days, $80,000 USD. Please Pay Now. What do you do? If you had travel insurance, that likely would not happen—although there are exceptions. But if you had no travel insurance, you have to deal with it. This is not a situation you can ignore. You don’t want the hospital to bounce the bill over to an international collection agency—that happens a lot, and it can make your life anywhere from uncomfortable to miserable. Increasingly, U.S. hospitals are diverting all bills for non-US residents to a growing throng of international companies who specialize in cross-border collections so they—the hospitals—don’t have to deal with the complexities of foreign collections, or travel to your province to sue you. But you are not defenseless. Hospitals don’t like to sue…