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Canadians More Savvy about Travel Insurance than Their American Peers

Recently, the US Travel Insurance Association (USTIA), representing American travel insurance companies, announced that in 2018, Americans spent nearly US$3.8 billion on all types of travel insurance products—up 41 per cent since 2016. Pretty impressive figures—until you look at comparable data from Canada, which shows that Canadians (who represent but one-tenth the population of the US) are now approaching CA$1 billion in premiums spent for travel protection products in 2018 (CA$990 million, to be more precise), according to the Conference Board of Canada. Moreover, the USTIA survey has shown that the $3.8 billion covered only 66 million travellers (one-fifth of the US population), while Canadian data show that among 18- to 34-year-olds, 64 per cent were covered by travel insurance on their last trip out of the country, and 89 per cent of Canadians 55 and older buy insurance when travelling beyond Canada’s borders.  What we can glean from this…

More Brits Stranded, Victims of Airline Cancellations

The stunning collapse of UK’s giant tour operator Thomas Cook, which left more than 600,000 holidayers stranded in some 18 countries (150,000 from Britain alone) shows just how vulnerable travellers have become to circumstances beyond their control. That’s almost twice the number of travellers stranded when Monarch airlines went under in 2017, and an additional million more that lost their future bookings. The liquidation of the 178-year old tour company whose logo has become a familiar sight worldwide propelled the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to mobilize its “biggest peacetime repatriation” since the second world war to get its holidayers home—within the next two weeks and free of charge. The repatriation is being funded largely by the government-run Air Travel Organizer’s Licence (ATOL) system which requires travel companies who sell air holiday packages to meet certain licensing requirements and contribute to a trust fund protecting travellers in case one of…

Canadians to Require European Travel Authorizations in 2021

Due to heightening concerns about illegal immigration and terrorist attacks, Canadians, Americans, and citizens of 60 other countries will need electronic travel authorizations linked to their passports to enter any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen* zone starting January 2021. Under the European Travel Immigration and Authorization System (ETIAS) established by the European Travel Commission, citizens of countries who are normally allowed to travel to Schengen zone nations visa-free for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days will have to pass background checks ensuring that they are not security risks to the host countries. In effect, the ETIAS have a purpose similar to Canada’s eTA (electronic Travel Authorization) or the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) in the US. When announcing the introduction of the system in 2016, Jean Claude Juncker, European Commission president, said, “We need to know who is crossing our borders. This way…

“Back to School” Low Season Travels

As “regular hours” resume and it’s back to school for students and families, low season starts where there will be less crowds, still great temperatures, and cheaper travel packages. Here are the best spots to visit in September: Take in the sights of Asia’s third-largest country on the Deccan Odyssey luxury train. This train travels the Maharashtra route through the southern part of the country, stopping at both popular and off-the-beaten path locations such as World Heritage Sites and palaces. Take this luxury train on one of six possible itineraries to different destinations. All meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and excursions including entrance fees and camera permits are included. Each cabin also provides a private butler, an in-suite bathroom and closet and even HDTV. If you prefer to venture on your own without a set itinerary, stay at the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa in India to indulge in an…

Thinking about your Fall and Winter travel plans as Summer closes in? Know your rights!

Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance – and make sure you pack the right one! We have a dedicated team to help you choose the perfect plan fit for your travels. MSH Americas is dedicated to honoring our leading position in the travel insurance industry by providing exceptional service, up-to-date news, and support for our clients. Whether you are going abroad for leisure, to study, or to work, we want you to be able to travel with confidence. As part of our ongoing commitment to you, we promise to adhere to the newly updated THIA Traveler’s Bill of Rights. The Traveler’s Bill of Rights reads: The Travel Insurance Bill of Rights and Responsibilities builds upon the following key elements of travel health insurance: • Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies.• Know your health and consult a health…

Hurricane Season is Here. Stay Alert

It’s the peak of hurricane season in Atlantic and Caribbean waters and the first major storm of the season, Dorian, has switched on the alert for residents on the southeast coast of the US, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland, as well as the highly susceptible island countries in the Caribbean and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. If you have travels planned to any of these areas, you need to carefully read your travel documents, airline travel rules, hotel/resort contracts, and especially your travel insurance trip cancellation and interruption benefits and limitations, and you must monitor the official government travel advisories. Travel Canada has already issued advisories for many of the islands in the Caribbean, warning of the need to either practice extreme caution if you’re already in the path of the storm, or avoid travelling altogether. These warnings will change from day to day, but you need to be…

Family Vacation Destinations

Looking for the perfect family vacation for summer break? Make the most of your yearly trip with these family-friendly destinations – perfect for all ages, with fun activities for everyone in your group! Although Las Vegas may be known as an adult playground, there is a large mix of activities available for families with children as well. Picking a family-friendly hotel will be the make-or-break decision, as some hotels cater to children: For example, Mandalay Bay boasts a giant Shark Reef aquarium and multiple pools with a lazy river and an actual sandy beach. The Circus Circus hotel, true to its name, includes an actual circus with world-class jugglers and a variety of performers—as well as indoor roller coaster rides, a 50 foot waterslide tower with 3 slides, and a Splash Pad with waterfalls. Other must-see attractions you and your children will love include M&M World where they have different…

Stay Alert: Flesh-Eating Disease Expands through Warming Beach Waters

With the summer vacation season in full swing, news reports of bacterial disease in the warming waters of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico up to the east coast of Chesapeake Bay are becoming too frequent to ignore. We’ll note right off the top: this has nothing to do with the infamous red or green tides that have blemished Florida’s western shores the past couple of years. The disease—necrotizing fasciitis, also known as “flesh-eating disease”—has been claiming increasing  numbers in these areas, and Florida’s Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued advisories warning of risks primarily to the elderly with compromised immune conditions, chronic kidney disease, or cancer; people of any age with cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, skin punctures or surgical wounds; and—most sadly—perfectly healthy kids with scraped or bruised toes or knees just playing in the ocean. Vicious and virulent In Florida,…

10 Things I have Learned About Human Trafficking Since Launching Our Task Force

In the run up to 30 July – World Day against Trafficked Persons, which is calling for governments to take more stringent action to fight Human Trafficking, I took the opportunity to reflect on what I have learned about the issue since WTTC launched its Human Trafficking Task Force at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, April this year. Human Trafficking is a big money ‘business’. According to the International Labour Organization, Human Trafficking is an illicit industry worth more than $150 billion annually, which is equivalent to the entire tourism economy of Brazil ($152.5 billion). 2. Human Trafficking affects everyone, everywhere. Victims of Human Trafficking are men, women and children, and they can be found in every country in the world. An estimated 24.9 million people are trapped in forced labour: 16 million of which are exploited in the private sector, 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4…

Ingle & MSH join task force to halt human trafficking

We are proud to team up with the WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) to bring awareness and work towards halting the spread of human trafficking around the globe. Our industry has a unique opportunity to educate our partners and clients on activities that can make a real difference. For immediate release… To mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (July 30th), the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today calls on governments across the globe to adopt more stringent measures in the fight against human trafficking, and specifically to support Travel & Tourism initiatives that aim to curb this illicit activity. Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion in illegal profits annually. In comparative terms, that’s the equivalent of the entire tourism economy of Brazil ($152.5bn). Trafficking relies on the travel industry to operate – not only across borders, but also within – using legitimate operations to illegally move…

New Season for Travel Insurance Products Coming Up—Stay Alert

With travel insurance premiums expected to rise significantly this fall—partly due to the Ontario government’s decision to eliminate all payments for out-of-country medical fees—it’s understandable that travellers, particularly longer-term snowbirds, will be looking for ways to economize. Comparing prices between several insurance providers has always been the first option for making sure you get the best price available—but that only works if you’re comparing similar products. And that’s hard, given the differences in benefits, exclusion requirements, medical underwriting, age limitations, and a score of other factors offered in the travel insurance marketplace. One stratagem that seems to have caught on is using a free credit card or employer/retiree group plan to cover the first 15, 30, or 60 days of a trip, then “topping up” with an individual single-trip plan for the bulk of it. Sometimes that can work to save you a lot of money. But there are also…

Best Places to Travel to Escape the Heat!

Can’t stand melting at 40°C? Need an escape from the scorching sun? Travel with us to cooler climates and enjoy a break from the soaring temperatures. 8 great places to visit comfortably this summer! If you want to visit Canada in the summer, Alberta is one of the best provinces to explore. With the most daily sunshine hours of the year and comfortable weather at a high of 24°C, you can trek the mountains, visit historical sites and museums, enjoy restaurants and do shopping. What brings most visitors to Alberta is nature: the jaw-dropping Rocky Mountains and other beautiful national parks are sights to behold. Travel to Dinosaur Provincial Park near Drumheller to see the Alberta Badlands and visit the Tyrell Museum to see real dinosaur skeletons up close. For those who are extremely fit and active, head to the Rockies and hike the challenging Cory Pass – it’s one…

Recent News in the Dominican Republic Calls For Extra Precaution When Travelling At All Times

It was the shooting of baseball legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz outside a bar in Santo Domingo that brought the issue of mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic to worldwide attention, but it remains the recent spate of mostly-unsolved and unexplained deaths of American tourists at popular resort hotels that has tourism officials worried about what comes next. (Big Papi is recovering well in a Boston hospital) Though the issue has not captured much attention of Canadian media—which is mystifying as Canadians provide the second largest pool of tourism to the DR next to Americans—print and broadcast media in the US have been asking tough questions about what local tourism officials have characterized as a series of unfortunate coincidences. In one published report, however, the DR’s attorney general Jean Alain Rodriguez told local journalists that the nation is “secure but definitely has many challenges.” Indeed it has. So far this…

MSH International Boosts Its Global Expansion With New Health and Travel Insurance Products and Services

MSH International (Americas) is accelerating its international expansion and services to meet the growing demand for its comprehensive, global health insurance products. Adding to the company’s great products and services a new suite of offerings addresses up-to-the-minute needs of leisure and business travelers alike and includes: LivExpat, a new generation of flexible and cost-efficient international health insurance plans MSH Navigator, a mobile application, with geo-tracking capabilities, security warnings, travel and city guides, two-way communication and single-touch access to emergency and provider networks MSH ASSISTANCE, a comprehensive product offering with round-the-clock multilingual medical assistance, emergency evacuation, repatriation and risk management to travellers, worldwide. Born of a 2017 merger between MSH International and Ingle International, a supplier of international insurance solutions for travellers, students and expatriates since 1946, MSH International continues to experience rapid international growth. Together with its continuous product innovation, tailored facilities, global capabilities, customized web and mobile sales/information portals…

How to Prepare for Emergency Situations at Home or Abroad

In April 2018, Toronto was shaken after an attack with a rented van in the North York area has left 10 dead and 15 others wounded. In a city that is generally known to be safe, this tragic event feels particularly jarring. It’s difficult to predict senseless attacks such as this. And while Toronto is in mourning today, one horrific act of violence will not alter the character of the city: at large, Toronto is still a safe place. For travellers heading to Toronto or anywhere else around the globe, it’s important not to let events like this deter you from getting out there and exploring the world. Rather than avoid making plans, the best thing that you can do is be prepared in the event you encounter an emergency at home or abroad. Measures for keeping safe Be prepared: If you are heading abroad, make sure to remain…

Taking the Family Abroad this Summer? Here’s Your Checklist

Now that summer is in full flight, family travel is priority number one, and so it should be. But if your plans involve trips to foreign countries, and especially if you’re taking along young children (your own or those of friends or relatives), you need to be sure your documentation covers them just as it covers you. Passports All Canadian children, from newborns on up, need their own passports to travel to a foreign country. So plan well ahead. At this time of year passport offices are overloaded and travelling on parents’ documents is no longer acceptable. Passports remain the most valuable and acceptable form of identification in nations the world over. And it’s your assurance that no matter where you go, you will be allowed back into Canada. In the globalized world, no one, including a child, should be without one. Travel medical insurance You may have your travel…

Travellers’ Alerts Raised for Measles Outbreaks in Europe and the USA

If you’re heading for Europe this summer, and especially if you’re travelling with children who have not been vaccinated for measles, see your doctor or a travel health clinic immediately and have yourselves and your children properly immunized against this dangerous and potentially deadly disease. Most of us thought measles had been eliminated many years ago. But the epidemic raging across Europe shows just how resilient this highly contagious disease can really be. According to Canada’s Travel Health website, as of the end of May 2019, large measles outbreaks (exceeding 1,000 cases) are currently ongoing in Albania, France, Georgia, Italy, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine; and since the beginning of 2019, serious outbreaks have also been reported in virtually all other European nations, including such highly developed countries as Germany, the UK, Spain, and Switzerland. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC), 35,000 cases of measles…

Dark Tourism – Do You Dare?

What Is Dark Tourism? Travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy. Morbid right? But here’s the reasons tourists visit Dark Tourism sites 1 – Curiosity 2 – Step back into history & feel the impact of the events 3 – Understand what happened first-hand 4 – Pay respects & visit memorials 5 – Experience the creation of reflective memories 6 – Remember what it is to be human People go for many reasons, but ultimately, it just means you are interested in learning about life and history. If you dare to go…here are some of the top Dark Tourism destinations & most Haunted places in the world Bran Castle, Romania The home of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” seems to be based on this Romanian castle on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. The former seat of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, Bran Castle is now a museum for…

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…

Ontario Travel Health Cutback Confirmed. Now What?

Now that the Ontario government has confirmed its decision to terminate all emergency medical costs for its residents travelling out of the country—effective October 1, 2019—we must ask what’s next for the millions of Ontarians who are accustomed to cross-border day trips for shopping, sporting events, regular family reunions, or in some cases even work. (Ontario’s action does not affect health coverage while visiting other provinces.) Recent surveys confirm that over 76 per cent of Canadians surveyed in 2018 said they had some form of travel insurance on their last trip out of the country—with older groups (boomers and snowbirds) having the highest rates of coverage. They know, they have the experience. They have heard the horror stories about what can happen without it. Younger groups, not so much: there’s still a reasonable amount of “invincibility” thinking out there. Multi-trip policies come into their own But there’s also some good…

As Governments Withdraw, Private Travel Insurers Tune Up

Ontario’s proposal to stop paying travellers’ out-of-country medical emergency costs is expected to raise private travel insurance premiums by between 7 and 13 per cent, according to industry sources, even though the provincial share of fees paid to foreign health care providers are minimal at best—perhaps 5 per cent. And though such increases will be felt most acutely by snowbirds who spend several months out of Canada each year—primarily in the US—the effects should also awaken cross-border shoppers and weekenders to the reality that accidents and medical emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, making them just as vulnerable as snowbirds. According to figures just released by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), 71.9 per cent of Ontarians surveyed claim they had some form of travel insurance on their last outbound trip. For Canadians as a whole, that was 76 per cent. And of those who were uninsured, 49.6…

As Drinking Laws Relax, You Need to Stay Alert when Travelling

To many foreign visitors, Ontario’s drinking laws have long been a source of bemusement, and some frustration. I have often heard from friends and colleagues that, as much as they enjoyed what Canada has to offer, they were somewhat confused—or even embarrassed—when a waiter or hotel worker told them it was too early in the day for a Bloody Mary with their brunch. Or that if they wanted a beer or wine, they could only be served in some dark and enclosed location, not here on a sunlit patio. But with the impending relaxation of alcohol consumption laws, just announced, visitors to Ontario should find it somewhat friendlier and less intimidating to order their favourite beverage in a pleasant outdoor location, open to the sky. Times have certainly changed, and there will still be many people who decry the easing availability of alcohol in daily life. But for travellers leaving…

The Changing Tourism Strategies in Cuba and Mexico

Recently, Mexico has undergone a major shift in its official tourism strategy to upgrade (and up-price) mass tourism to that country—Canada’s most favoured vacation destination after the United States. Now we learn that the US administration has reinstated many of the trade and travel restrictions against Cuba that were relaxed during the Obama years and will also allow Americans (including former Cubans) to sue foreign firms (among them Canadian and European) operating on properties seized by the Castro government on or after the 1959 revolution. Cuba attracts some one million Canadian visits annually—Mexico just over two million. Between them, they account for almost half of the robust Caribbean, Mexican, and Central American vacation travel market. In both the Cuban and Mexican markets, residents of Britain rank just behind Canada as the most frequent visitors. The action taken by the Trump administration—intended to punish Cuba for its ongoing support of the…

Tips for Annual-Plan Holders

A client calls to say: “Hi, we are heading across the border next week. Do I have to call you every time I plan a trip?” if they are annual-plan holders, the short answer is “no”. But you can save them (and yourself!) some time by passing along a few tips at the time of the original sale! 1 – Short trips: you need not notify anyone about a short trip any time during the term of your annual plan – provided you have not experienced a change in your health. 2 – Change in health status: call us if your health situation changes. We can then check whether you will be in danger of limiting or eliminating your coverage, and we can discuss other coverage options. 3 – Days per trip: there is a limit to the number of days you may travel per trip and still be able…

10 Ways to Save on Travel Insurance

Are you or your clients concerned about the costs of travel insurance? What’s better than saving money and spending it elsewhere on your travels? Here’s 10 ways to save on travel insurance while getting comprehensive coverage! 1 – The more often you travel, the better the deal. Consider a multi-trip annual plan! They end up being significantly cheaper (and more convenient) than single-trip plans if you travel more than once a year. 2 – Travel in twos? Make sure to take advantage of your companion discounts! Your travelling companion does not need to be a family member – as long as your travel arrangements and trip dates are the same, you can save a few bucks. 3 – Travelling with family? Get family rates! They are cheaper than individual rates for families of 3 or more. Typically, rates are only 2 times the price of the oldest family member’s policy…

Ontario Terminate All Out-of-Country Medical Payments

The Ontario government’s announced intention to terminate all coverage of unexpected medical emergencies for residents travelling out of the country as of October 1, 2019 appears to be a clear violation of the Canada Health Act. But that has not prevented the Ontario government, and all other provinces and territories, from short changing their own travellers for years by paying foreign hospitals absurdly low reimbursements for taking care of them when they travel out of the country. Ontario has been paying up to $200 CAD per day per patient in a standard room, $400 in intensive care, and $50 CAD for an outpatient visit—leaving it to private travel insurers to pay the great bulk of remaining costs (usually well north of 90 percent). And though the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC) contends that the termination of the OOC program will have no impact on 99.5 percent of…

Hungry for Food Travels?

Among the best reasons to travel is indulging in all sorts of traditional, cultural and exotic foods available around the world. Let us take you on this food journey—we guarantee you’ll want to book your next flight! Home to many Michelin starred restaurants and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, you will find that food in Japan is an art form. Authentic handmade udon and ramen will change your perspective on noodle soup forever, and carefully crafted Japanese sushi is an experience unto itself. Even shopping at the grocery store is fun in Japan, with unique packaging and creatively designed food making each trip a novelty. Tokyo is the eating capital of Japan, with over 160,000 restaurants to choose from—but since restaurants don’t open until 11am, it’s better to space your meals out during the day. Don’t forget to check out the fish markets early in the morning for a new food…

Important Updates To Our Policies & Extended Hours

IMPORTANT: UPDATES TO OUR POLICIES We have made changes to our policies in order to continue providing clients with comprehensive, responsible coverage.  Download a copy of our coverage summary or policy wording to get the full details of the updated changes. We at MSH Americas ensure that your clients can travel with confidence, whether they are global travellers, expatriates, or international students. With a wide range of products and an unrivaled customer service experience, you can trust that we will find the perfect solution for you and your clients’ travel needs. We offer personalized one-on-one service to fulfill your insurance needs at every point of contact. Don’t forget: We’re only a phone call away, whenever you need our assistance. MSH/Ingle Agents Login to your agent portal to view and download the latest policy details under MSH/Ingle-specific products. https://www.ingleinternational.com/login/en Canadian Travellers Travel freely, travel blissfully. We cover Canadian Travellers with travel…

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…

New Product Launch: LivExpat. Customizable Benefits That Will Save Your Clients Money.

MSH AMERICAS announces the launch of LivExpat – A flexible, affordable international health insurance plan for 1 – 150 lives. LivExpat is the beginning of a new generation of flexible, cost efficient and innovative international health insurance plans. Designed to meet the needs of the ever-changing global traveler and SME’s. LivExpat fully insured plans give you choice; Emergency medical only coverage or Comprehensive medical coverage with optional Disability, Life and AD&D. These plans provide insurance protection with several duration options and mix and match benefits to best suit you and or your employees. Medical including hospitalization, routine and vision care, and prescription drugs, and optional dental care; Evacuation including transportation, hospitalization and repatriation; Employee Assistance Program Life & Disability, including Life, Long-Term Disability, Temporary & Permanent Total Disability, and Accidental Death & Dismemberment benefits. LiveExpat includes access to MSH‘s exclusive Provider Network of more than a million healthcare professionals around…

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.…

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;…

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…