Visitors to Canada Travel Protection: Know Your Options (Part 2)

In the Part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of Visitors to Canada plans. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the details your visitors will need to consider when purchasing their insurance.

Visitors to Canada travel protection plans come in various shapes and sizes. These are not “one size fits all” products.

The first rule is to buy travel insurance before your visitors leave home—to become effective when they first set foot in Canada. If you or your visitors buy insurance after they arrive, they will be subject to a waiting period—two, three, or even five days—before coverage for any sickness becomes effective. (Coverage for accidents is effective immediately.)

In most cases, if you’re buying or ordering a plan for a parent or relative who will be staying with you for a short time, a single-trip policy is best. But be careful if that visitor decides to stay on and on. (For more on this, see Part 1 of this series.)


Travel policies are not “renewable”

Travel insurance policies are one-time contracts: they begin and end on specific dates and are not renewable. If your visitor wants to extend his or her stay, they must buy a new contract, with all of the eligibility rules and pre-existing conditions requirements being factored into each new contract.

For example, if your guest had a previous claim for medical services under one policy, or even if they just experienced new signs and symptoms during their first period of coverage, those conditions or symptoms would likely be considered pre-existing for any new contract. And that might invalidate their new application. Also, there might be a “waiting period” clause before benefits for that new contract kick in. (Sometimes, if the new contract is purchased before the old one has expired, the waiting period might be waived—but you need to verify that, and your travel insurance broker is your source for that verification. This is just another reason why discussing travel insurance with a trained professional is the preferred means to buy travel insurance, especially if dealing with out-of-the-ordinary situations.)

Remember, each contract is separate—travel insurance is not “renewable” per se.


Pay attention to the rules

Regardless of the type of plan you buy—short or Super Visa—eligibility rules and pre-existing conditions exclusions apply, just as they do in the plans you buy for a winter vacation in Florida.

Consequently, your visitors need to understand that their medical history is important when applying for coverage while in Canada.

Most plans will specify that any illness or related symptom that occurs within a certain number of days (e.g., 180 days) before the planned effective date of coverage may be excluded from coverage. And some may preclude coverage for persons with certain illnesses (recent heart conditions, cancer, respiratory diseases) altogether. This may be hard news, but it’s better to know it ahead of time.

Then there are plans that require the applicant to complete a medical questionnaire if they want coverage for any stable pre-existing conditions (such as high blood pressure or respiratory diseases that are well-controlled and haven’t shown any instabilities). These may be the best way to go for people in less than perfect health who know their histories and are determined to keep on travelling.


Medical questionnaires can protect the applicant

Don’t fear the medical questionnaire if you know your medical history and are careful and honest about completing it. An accurately completed questionnaire can turn out to be your best friend in case of a contested claim… if your insurer confirms your acceptance on the basis of that questionnaire.

And there may be a temptation, especially if your foreign guests are close family, to become over-generous and personally guarantee ultimate payment of their medical bills. But be careful with your generosity—even if your guests are insured.

If, for example, there is a dispute over a bill, or if the insurer is forced to deny the claim because of an undeclared pre-existing condition on the application, you could end up holding the bag—or the demand for payment in full.

All the more reason to understand that Canadian hospitals are not charitable institutions; they need to meet their bottom lines, as they are also businesses—very, very expensive ones. Rather than risk that bill, protect your visitors by arranging for coverage before they arrive.


Expecting visitors over the holidays? Browse your Visitors to Canada insurance options.

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