Before you buy travel health insurance, take the time to read the fine print and ask questions. That way, when you pack your bags and head off – whether for a cross-Canada road adventure, day trip across the border or multi-week holiday abroad – you'll have peace of mind knowing that you and your family will be covered in the event of a medical emergency.
The most important thing to remember is that not all travel insurance is the same. Some policies, for example, may limit or not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, or for medical emergencies that arise as a result of participating in high-risk activities such as skydiving. Maximums and duration of coverage will also vary depending on the policy.
How do you know if you're covered? The best approach, says Andrea Zviedris, communications manager of the OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance, is to ask lots of questions.
"People are often unsure about the level of information they need to provide the insurance company about their health, diagnoses and any medications they are taking," she says. "Ask the insurance company what they need to know about your medical history. Ask as many questions as you need until you feel comfortable with the product you are buying – and make sure you provide all the information the insurer needs."
Wendy Hope, vice president of external relations at the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, says that people are sometimes worried that if they reveal a medical condition they won't be eligible for travel health insurance. But if you fail to disclose this information and something happens, your claim will be denied and the costs associated with your medical treatment won't be covered.
"Even with medical conditions, you can purchase travel insurance," says Ms. Hope. "It may cost a bit more, but it's better knowing that you have this security rather than travelling without it."
Consumers should ask other questions as well, such as whether there are any limitations to the policy in terms of time limits, countries you're allowed to visit or activities you can do.
Most policies will specify how long you can be absent from home, and they exclude coverage if you are travelling to countries in conflict or are injured while participating in high-risk activities.
Finally, Ms. Hope says a common misconception is that travel insurance is only needed if you're travelling outside of Canada. "Each province has its own public health plan, and services covered by your home province might not be covered by others."
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.