Canadian Underwriter

Canadians don’t have a good understanding of travel health coverage

October 23, 2013  

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The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) conducted a national survey of  more than 1,000 Canadians about their travel habits and their understanding of provincial health coverage. The survey revealed that 35% of Canadian travellers do not buy travel health insurance.

“Only 6% of Canadians realize that provincial health plans cover approximately 9% of medical expenses when travelling outside of Canada,” said THiA president, John Thain, in a press release. “Travel health insurance is designed to protect against unforeseen medical expenses.”

Read: Blackhawk Network to offer new prepaid travel insurance

Of survey respondents, 21% said that they have received medical treatment while travelling. The most common reasons for seeking medical care included gastrointestinal issues (21.8%), infection (16.2%) and fractures (10.7%). Sixty percent of those who received medical attention while away had extended medical insurance to pay for the associated expenses. According to the survey, associated medical expenses of more than $1,000 would represent a financial crisis for 33.6% of respondents and 32% indicated that unforeseen medical expenses of $5,000 or more would represent a financial crisis. Yet only only 28.5% of respondents correctly identified the average cost of treating a fracture in the US ($10,000).

Download: Roundtable discussion on servicing today’s travel customer hosted by RSA and Canadian Insurance Top Broker

Other interesting survey findings include:

• 30% of Canadians plan to travel this winter

• 31% consider themselves risk takers

• 30% report binge drinking on vacation

• 94% of travelers pack underwear

“Travel health insurance should be as essential to a vacation as underwear,” said Thain. “Many people will already have some coverage through employers or credit cards and it’s important to understand existing coverage and ensure you have the necessary supplemental coverage.”

Read: An excellent safety record in 2012 means aviation insurance is still a buyers’ market

THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

• Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions

• Know your trip: How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive?

• Understand your travel insurance policy: Insurance companies have staff available to answer any questions related to policies

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This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.