Don’t leave home without travel insurance
By Patrick Robertson
After booking your transportation and accommodation, the next travel detail is buying emergency travel insurance.
Medical treatment can be tens of thousands of dollars. Cancelled flights and lost luggage can cost thousands of dollars. The cost of medical and travel insurance is small compared to the rest of your trip and it is a very important part of any travel.
The cheapest emergency travel insurance is through one of the many credit cards that offer it as part of your membership. I change cards depending on what enticements they are offering. I currently use Westjet Mastercard that I pay $150 a year for two cards. In addition to the Westjet dollars I get with each purchase, it includes travel insurance on any trips that I purchase my transportation, whether that be planes, trains, or boats.
You need to read the fine print for every insurance policy. My Westjet card covers me for 15 consecutive days if under 65 years of age and three consecutive days if 65 or older. You must also call them prior to seeking emergency treatment.
Travel Insurance rates begin to rise at age 55. Recent cost for a week of travel insurance is: age 55 – $135; age 60 – $157; age 65 – $170; age 70 – $193; age 75 – $233; age 80 – $330.
If you travel a lot you will want to look at a yearly travel insurance plan. For 30-day coverage, multiple times a year, you need to come back to B.C. at least 24 hours between trips, the fee is $350 per year for a 50-year-old person and $300 for a 30-year-old person including Covid emergency insurance.
I have yearly 60-day insurance and pay $375 per year. If we are going to be away for more than 60 days, I top up the insurance for the extra time I am away. It is important that your insurance covers you from the time you leave your home to the time that you return. If you decide to extend your trip, you must contact your insurer and pay for the extra time you will be away. It is best to do that before you leave on your trip.
Be truthful about your health history. Insurance companies have access to your medical records if they need them. Not being truthful will cause your insurance null and void if you need the insurance. If you have had any major diagnosis or treatment you must be stable for a defined period time, usually three months, but you need to check with your insurer. Make sure that you ask if every activity you plan on doing is covered. For example, rock climbing and parasailing require additional coverage as they are high risk activities.
You want an insurance company that has 24/7 operator lines because in many cases you need to get prior approval for emergency treatment plus they can help you navigate the medical system where you happen to be and provide many other services like monitoring your treatment. Coverage for medical flight evacuation is important and an insurance company who pays directly for any treatment or travel losses you incur so you are not out of pocket thousands of dollars for months.
You need travel insurance if you leave your home province even for a few hours. Most people do not know that there are many things not covered by their provincial medical insurance if they travel to another province and need emergency treatment. Each province in Canada has its own medical insurance plan and not everything is reciprocal between provinces so services like ambulance could cost you thousands of dollars.
In addition to medical and travel insurance you will need car insurance if you choose to rent a car. Rental cars in Canada, USA and most of Europe must have basic liability insurance in order to be rented. Many travel credit cards have Collision Damage Waiver coverage that protects you against theft and comprehensive damage. If you choose to purchase the rental car company CDW for about $30 per day your credit card coverage is null and void. You have to decline it in order to be covered by your credit card coverage.
If you rent a lot, it is a good idea to get rental car coverage on your car insurance. It will save you money and usually give you better coverage than the travel credit card coverage.
Insurance is something that you never want to use. It gives you peace of mind and could save you thousands of dollars if you ever need it. Don’t leave home without it.
– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and long time resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Visit his Tool page at www.budgetslowtravel.com/tools for powerful planning tools to book your whole trip. Like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/budgetslowtravel for weekly tips.