Canadian Underwriter

Spotlight On: Travel

September 17, 2018   by David Gambrill

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Canada’s tourist boom is creating a big opportunity for brokers in travel insurance lines.

“Brokers should take advantage of opportunities to ask their clients whether or not they have any friends or family travelling from abroad,” says Dan Keon, director of marketing and communications at Allianz Global Assistance in Canada.

“In the same way that [visitors to Canada] are planning what they are going to do and see, a question they should be asking is: ‘Do we have travel insurance in place when we are coming over?’ If they don’t, then the good thing about ‘visitors to Canada’ insurance is that it is available in Canada for the host to purchase on behalf of their visiting family or friends.”

Visitors to Canada insurance is not a new segment of travel insurance – it has been around for a few years – but it’s fast becoming more popular as tourism to Canada increases. Last year, 20.8 million tourists visited Canada as a destination, according to Statistics Canada — a new record.

Keon observes a common misconception that Canada’s universal health care system applies to visitors from abroad — it does not. Unlike Canadian residents with health care coverage, visitors to Canada will receive a direct bill for medical services rendered, and these bills can be quite high.

A one-day stay at a Canadian hospital can cost up to $4,000 a day, for example. Or an emergency room visit can leave a visitor to Canada up to $1,000 out of pocket.

When placing visitors to Canada insurance, the broker takes down the name of the actual insureds, who receive a copy of the policy. But this can be arranged on the visitor’s behalf by the host family or friends in Canada. “Whether due to a language barrier, or the difficulty of calling into a broker from abroad, sometimes it’s just easier for the host family or friend to book [the insurance] on [the visitor’s] behalf,” Keon says.

Such insurance is designed to cover unforeseen or unexpected medical costs. Coverage could be for minor things such as an ear infection or a walk-in clinic visit, or more serious conditions such as appendicitis, a hip fracture, or something requiring hospital admission as an in-patient.