Travel Health Insurance: Get it, But Get it Right.

As all experienced Canadian travellers know, supplemental out-of-country health insurance is a must when leaving Canada, even for one day. But finding the right kind takes a bit of effort and diligence.

Just because you have a policy stuck in your back pocket or valise, does not mean you are properly, or even partially, covered.

Each policy must be tailored to your health status and age, and by health status we don’t mean whether or not you feel great and ready to head for Thailand, or even whether your doctor said it was OK for you to travel.

Most policies will require you to meet certain medical eligibility requirements and, if you are over 50, expect to be asked to fill out a pretty extensive medical questionnaire. It’s important you do it and follow the instructions. Answer the questions that are asked, not that you think should be asked.

The most common mistake people make in completing applications is to assume that since a certain condition or set of symptoms—like an old TIA (mini stroke), or inguinal hernia, or kidney stone—are no longer giving them problems, they don’t need to mention them when asked on a questionnaire. They assume that since they are old history and not being treated, they don’t need to be mentioned. That’s a big mistake and could cost you the nullification of your claim. Answer what is asked.

They also assume that if their doctor doesn’t think old symptoms are dormant, they are irrelevant.

Wrong: both times.

Doctors cannot override the decision of an insurer, not unless they have ironclad evidence that the insurance assessor’s claim denial was wrong—and that doesn’t happen often.

The way to get it right and make sure you are properly covered is to shop at least three or four plans—make sure the coverage conforms to your health status and that you have filled out the application correctly, that any questions about ambiguous wording have been answered, that you have read the limitations and exclusions and understand them, and only then do you start comparing prices. A cheap plan that doesn’t provide the coverage you need is worse than no plan at all.

And if you complete your application by phone, as many people do, insist on seeing the completed application before you buy the insurance. Any reliable agent will provide such an application. Read it. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about what is in your medical record (many people don’t know) and also remember that you have 10 days to rescind any policy after you have received a copy—so long as it hasn’t gone into effect.

And the most important point: buy from a reputable specialist in travel health insurance.


Learn more about our services and products by visiting the Ingle International main page.

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