Foreign hospital emergency rooms don’t offer children’s or students’ rates. The costs can be just as devastating as those for your heart attack, or kidney stone, or broken hip. And when young people travel, with you or on their own, they run risks you wouldn’t even think about.
Stepping on a stingray, cutting a foot on a broken bottle buried in the sand, suffering food poisoning or just plain overindulgence masked as something life-threatening can ruin your holiday as well as your bank account. Yet every year, the majority of young Canadians who travel abroad, with their families or on their own, don’t bother with travel insurance.
Astonishingly, according to a survey done last summer by Ipsos Reid for RBC, almost half (44 percent) of Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 said they rarely or never purchase travel insurance when going to the United States; and more than one third of young Canadians said they don’t need travel insurance in the U.S. because they believe their provincial health plan will cover their medical costs. Thank goodness more than 80 percent of outbound travellers over 55 know better.
For Canadians, whose government health insurance covers only a tiny share of foreign medical costs ($75 a day in B.C, up to $200 or $400 in Ontario and Quebec) out-of-country travel insurance should be a family affair. And many insurers now offer special rates for family groups travelling together. You need to ask about them. Certainly you should never consider covering only the adults and leaving the youngsters to go bare. A half day in the emergency room or a two-day confinement for an unexpected appendicitis can cost thousands of dollars just as it would for an adult.
And with March break coming up, you should be seriously involved in the travel plans of your high school or college age children heading to “fun spots” such as the Florida panhandle or the South Texas coast or Cancun. Something happens to even the best behaved students when they fall into the carefree environment of their vacationing peers. The results can be devastating, and they can affect not only your child, but your whole family as you’re the one who’s going to end up paying.
A day in a hospital anywhere in the sunbelt can easily run into thousands of dollars—even a half day in an emergency room can cost thousands. Are you prepared, at a moment’s notice, to fly to South Texas or Florida or Cancun to be by your son’s bedside; or to pay for your daughter’s repatriation to Canada by air ambulance at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000?
If your son or daughter is planning on a March break trip—help them out. Make sure they know what to expect, but most important, insist that they have travel insurance and make sure you know what that insurance covers and what it does not cover. And if you have to pay for it yourself, do it. It’s one of the best investments you can ever make.