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Warnings on Virtual Kidnapping Targeting Chinese Students

A warning to international students, brought to you by StudyInsured. A new (but old) scam is underway, specifically targeting Chinese international students: virtual kidnapping. It sounds bizarre when you first hear the words—how do you kidnap someone virtually? Doesn’t kidnapping require a person to be… physically there? Apparently not. Scam artists have had to up their game and get more creative with their schemes over the years as security measures have been tightening up and the general population has become more aware of when someone is trying to defraud them. In comes virtual kidnapping. While Canada is overall a safe destination for international students, travelling such a long distance away can naturally cause anxiety for students’ parents and loved ones left back home. This scam seeks to play on those fears by inventing a danger to the student that isn’t actually there. The history It started as a…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…