Most retiree plans for provincial or federal civil servants provide good coverage for short-term out-of-country travel. Some provide $500,000 of emergency cover, others go to $1 million. But most are capped at 40 days, so if you need more time, you need the help of a travel insurance specialist.
In the case of federal superannuates, whose coverage is capped at $500,000, I must recommend you need more–$1 million is the minimum you should have. Some other provincial public health emergency plans provide up to $1 million and that is adequate. No Canadian travel insurer is going to let you languish in a foreign hospital soaking up all those expensive services if they can return you home in an air ambulance. And they have the right to do that. It’s their call and air ambulances are so sophisticated now they can carry almost anyone in any condition.
The problem with public service plans is their limitation on out-of-country coverage. If you can fit within that 40-day time frame, that’s fine. But you still need to read your policy to see if services such as air repatriation, direct payment to foreign hospitals and doctors, ancillary services such as lab tests, etc. are covered. If however, you need more than 40 days you need to talk to a travel insurance specialist, because simply assuming you can purchase a separate policy to begin on day 41 is not a good call.
There are some public services that do not allow themselves to be “topped up.” And most commercial insurers will not cover any pre-existing condition that originated in the first 40 days. They also have a 48 hour exclusion before their own benefits kick in. This is a trap you don’t want to fall into.
You also want to know if the $500,000 or other limit is a one-time benefit or a lifetime benefit.
Some commercial travel insurers offer special plans for public service employees that “wrap around” the basic service plan and allow their own coverage to take over from day one while giving you premium credit for your first 40 days of coverage. This provides seamless cover and is far safer than you having to cobble together plans on your own.
First: know your own policy benefits and exclusions. Second: Get the advice of a travel insurance professional in making sure any expansions of your cover are seamless and fit the requirements of your basic public service plan.