Whether it is just south of the border, or to a far off exotic locale, planning a trip can get a little stressful. From choosing a hotel, booking flights, to packing and assessing your special needs like medications or shots required all can add to what can become a pretty long to-do list before you leave.
One of the things many Canadian travelers overlook is the need for travel insurance. Shopping for travel insurance is just as important as choosing a hotel. In fact, for seniors with a pre-existing medical condition, it is a must. Although it might seem an impossible task to find insurance coverage with pre-existing medical conditions, there are many options available to keep you protected when travelling.
First, it’s important to be aware of a few things, like what qualifies as a pre-existing medical or health condition. Understanding it is the first step to get peace of mind when travelling.
Things to remember when applying for travel insurance
What qualifies as a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing medical condition refers to any known medical condition you have at the time you apply for insurance. This can include health conditions such as:
- Heart Conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis,
- And more
However, it can also refer to a condition for which you have symptoms or which you are currently having tested. So, you don’t necessarily have to already been diagnosed with the condition for it to be considered pre-existing.
Many Canadians assume that because they have an existing condition, they will not qualify for travel insurance. However, providers such as Canada Protection Plan offer Travel Insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. In many cases, you won’t even require a medical test to be eligible.
Honesty is the best policy.
Although it might be tempting to avoid listing multiple medical conditions, it is always in your best interest to take an honest approach. When you deliberately leave medical information off your application, you will be at risk of not being covered should you require medical care for that specific condition. This defeats the purpose of paying for travel insurance in the first place.
When you take the time to fill out your insurance application properly, you increase your chances of being eligible for the treatments you require. In fact, Canada has a very high approval rate for insurance claims according to the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.
Additional services and important add-ons.
When shopping for travel insurance remember not all policies are created equally. You want to get the best possible coverage, but additional services come in handy as well. For example, if you become very ill on your trip, will your policy assist in getting you back to Canada for care?
Some travelers choose to use the insurance provided by their credit card company. However, although some do provide coverage for medical costs, they might not cover what you need. This can leave you holding the bag to pay for the balance of what is not covered. Seniors also won’t have the benefit of using their workplace travel insurance anymore. Even if you do enjoy some benefits as part of your retirement package, again the policy might not be as comprehensive as a travel insurance policy you purchase on its own.
Any travel insurance policy will have limits. Some of the most important things to consider are:
And remember, you don’t just want emergency coverage. This might leave out other potential illnesses which can be many and varied when travelling. From catching a cold or flu to food poisoning to strange rashes to unfamiliar symptoms that can keep you from enjoying your trip, you want to feel confident a trip to the doctor or hospital will not cost you a fortune. You want to be able to address unexpected medical situations that could pose a threat to your health.
Tips for Travel Insurance
When you are shopping for your travel insurance, you should consider these tips:
Always apply in advance for travel insurance, as even younger healthier travelers, the wait can be about 90 days just for the policy to go through. This is not the case for all insurance companies so be sure to call around to find a company that can provide travel insurance in time for your trip.
Even if you don’t have a pre-existing condition, you want to understand the full details of your policy. Remember it isn’t meant to cover things like a checkup at the local doctor’s office. It is intended for unexpected illnesses that can’t wait until you get home. Look for the stability clause that will refer to a period of time that your medical condition must be “stable” and unchanged. Understand what health changes you will be expected to report. Keep in mind changes can be very specific including a change to your medications. As mentioned, it can also include conditions you are awaiting diagnosis on.
We’ve mentioned this already but it’s worth mentioning again. Be honest about everything or you will be faced with paying for your medical claims. Avoid contradicting information and read everything over to make sure you are accurately listing everything. This includes details as specific as the medications and dosages in some cases. Insurers will check medical records when a claim is filed and look for discrepancies. Even mistakes will be considered discrepancies, which will interfere with your coverage.
If there are any areas of your insurance that you feel uncomfortable with, ask the insurance company questions and then have them answer you in writing. This will ensure you are covered if something happens and the claim is questioned.
It is tempting to go for the most affordable option, but this often means you aren’t getting the best coverage. Like any other product or service, you get what you pay for. If you have special conditions that need to be addressed, it is worth the added investment to ensure you are covered. For example, newer recent medical issues might be best addressed with customized stability periods.
Keeping in mind the importance of honesty and accuracy regarding your current health, make sure you report any health changes to your provider. If not, once again, it can lead to issues if a claim should be made. It could mean an increase to your premiums, but it is always better to ensure you have all your bases covered so you aren’t faced with a hefty medical bill.