Canadians are urged to make sure their out-of-country summer visitors are covered by travel insurance to protect them from unexpected accident or medical emergency costs during their stay.
“Provincial health insurance does not cover non-resident visitors, even if they are family; and the costs of medical care in Canada are higher than people may anticipate,” says David Hartman, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.
Mr. Hartman adds that though Canadian residents are generally not billed for hospital or doctors’ services, their visitors, if uninsured, are routinely expected to pay in full or make arrangements for payment when bills are submitted.
That could be a considerable hardship to many, as health care in Canada is among the most expensive in the world.* Mr. Hartman noted that the average Canadian hospital ward rates for foreigners can range from $3,000 to $5,000 or more per day, with intensive care going to as much as $15,000, and that does not include physicians’ fees, diagnostic services and ambulance transfers.
“Visitors to Canada” insurance plans are available from the same sources that provide out-of-country coverage for Canadians travelling abroad: brokers, banks, travel insurance companies, motor leagues, and many membership associations. Most offer varying benefit levels, but all provide a comprehensive range of emergency hospital and medical benefits, as well as trip cancellation and interruption options.
In addition, policies purchased before the traveller leaves home are effective immediately upon arrival in Canada. Insurance purchased after arrival usually has a 48-hour activation delay–a measure designed to prevent exploitation of government health services by non-residents who might be travelling to Canada specifically for emergency medical care.
“As with any travel insurance,” says Mr. Hartman, “visitors’ plans are for unexpected emergencies only, and may exclude certain unstable pre-existing conditions, so it’s important for friends or family members completing applications for their visitors to discuss the traveller’s health status and be aware of the limitations, exclusions, and even some of the definitions, included in the policy.
“The best way to fit the right policy to the customer is to deal with an agent who is thoroughly familiar with travel insurance, especially with Visitors to Canada policies,” he adds.
*Canadian Institute of Health Information, and the OECD.
About THIA. THIA is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is http://www.thiaonline.com/.
- Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada