Canadian Travel Insurance News from Ray Battiston


                                                 

Some things to Consider when 'shopping' your travel insurance:

My office insures Canadian as well as other Insurance Brokers for their Travel Insurance.  Why? Because they are not experts in Travel Insurance and know it is easier and safer to buy their insurance from our office than trying to determine what they need themselves.  We explain insurance terms and coverage to lawyers. Why? Because they are not insurance lawyers and are unfamiliar with the many definitions, exclusions and limitations.  Some new Canadian Insurance web sites are literally suggesting that you become your own Insurance Broker and decide yourself which one is the best company based on what your personal requirements are. In my opinion this is a very dangerous situation.  A professional Insurance Broker can advise you  what types of plans are available, what policies will cover you for pre existing conditions, the differences between multi trip annual plans and single plans, deductible savings, age change savings, and what effect health changes can have on your policy.

Where do you buy your Travel Insurance?:

I'm partial to Insurance Brokers specializing in Travel Insurance, because that describes my office. I am an independent Broker contracted with over ten Insurers or plans. I am not an employee of an Insurer. Some General Insurance Brokers will  also sell travel 'on the side', in addition to their homeowner, auto and business insurance sales. An Agent has been traditionally described as representing only one company, and  cam be an employee of an Agency or Insurance Company.  A Travel Insurance Agent arranges trip tickets as well as Insurance, again usually representing only one insurance company. To sell Travel Insurance in Canada an Insurance Agent must be licensed and insured. Furthermore some of the Provinces require mandatory Continuing Education credits each year.  The Agent or Broker must maintain at least an Accident or Sickness License in the Province or Territory he or she is transacting business. Some Life Insurance licenses also allow Accident and Sickness sales (which includes Travel Insurance).

There are different kinds of Travel Insurance

The Travel Insurance most people think of when buying out of Province or out Canada Medical Insurance is also called Excess Hospital Medical Insurance.  It greatly increases the minimum levels of insurance for out of Province travel that Provincial Health Care covers.  For instance BC only covers $75.00 per day for Medical Care out of Canada, yet the daily bill could be $10,000 or more.  A trip to the emergency room in the US can result in thousands of dollars of charges. Extended hospital care can financially ruin you without the proper coverage.

In addition to the daily per trip travel insurance, there are also Multi trip annual plans, Air Flight Insurance, 24 hour Accident, Trip Cancellation, Interruption and Delay, Interruption only, Baggage coverage,  Rental Car Waiver, and All Inclusive plans, which pick up the trip cancellation portion as well as the other items listed above.  I can quote and sell all of these plans.

What happens every summer (or earlier) to the Travel Insurance marketplace?

Most companies, especially those insuring long trips in the 60 and up age groups change their program every year, usually brining out a new program each summer or earlier (and sometimes later). An Insurer may decide to get out that type of business, or the plan administrator may change the Insurer on their plan, resulting in new rates, new policy wordings and new applications.  The USA health system inflation factor alone is much higher than general inflation and new rates may have to be charged just based on that alone. So the plan you bought last year may not be available or may cost more this year.  To my knowledge there is only one guaranteed renewable travel insurance policy and we offer it through Manulife Financial Travel insurance. But in many instances you can still buy last year's plan today for you new fall/winter trip.

In 2008 there was a huge fluctuation in the Canadian Dollar.  In fact a number of companies increased their premiums a second time in the same policy year, either late 2008 or early 2009.   In 2011, the Canadian Dollar has traded very high, resulting in more Canadians purchasing vacation homes in the United States due to the high dollar, as well as the lower real estate prices.

In 2014/2015 Canada has suffered another drop in our dollar versus  American dollar.  What happens to travel Insurance?  It goes up.  Substantially.  Our office has just had two insurers increase their rates by 14%.  That is in addition to their 2014 increase. And we are not alone. We are still competitive because our competitors are increasing rates too.

What is a Pre existing Condition and how does it affect your insurance?

Each Insurer or plan has a different definition of Pre existing conditions.  Generally it is a condition that is or has been treated by diet, medication or exercise, surgery, or hospitalization.   All insurers will have some type of pre existing exclusion and conditions.  As a persona ages, a longer stability period in order to cover pre existing conditions is generally needed.  For example a 60 year old may be able to purchase a long term travel policy which only has a 90 day stability period, but a 75 year old would probably need  up to 12 months stability for a serious condition  be covered.  If you are not stable for that specified period of time, that condition will not be covered.  Sometimes even a related condition will be excluded for coverage.

What effect does the eligibility questionnaire have on  insurance?

Pretty simple but can be messed up by 'assuming what is meant by the question'.  Most insurers on long term travel for senior ages have eligibility questions on their application.  If you have certain conditions or too many conditions or medications that you answer "yes" to, then you can not buy the insurance, or if you answer them incorrectly and have a claim, your claim can be denied or policy voided. Why?  Because the Insurer is pricing their policy to insure the types of "risks" that they want to insure.

If you are not eligible to purchase  standard  travel insurance, what are your options?

First there are a lot of insurers out there.  There are probably about 60 different plans or insurers for travel insurance in Canada.  We sell about 10 or 12 of them.  Most offices sell only one or two insurance programs. In most cases we will have a company that is a 'good fit' to your insurance plans.  We'll tell you if we don't!

We have four sources for individual medical underwriting: TIC, Tour Med, Manulife Travel and RSA Travel Insurance requires the clients Doctor to complete the form.  The other three companies  will accept your application on their individual applications.  In fact Manulife will even take your application details over the phone. Either one of these companies may or may not be able to offer coverage on pre existing conditions.  Pricing is only determined once individual underwriting is completed. Call us or e mail us.

What about Visitors to Canada Insurance plans or returning Canadians awaiting Provincial Health Care Coverage?

If you are a returning Canadian you will need temporary insurance until your Provincial Health Care Plan kicks in.  If you are visiting Canada you can purchase Visitor Insurance to protect you from possible catastrophic medical costs from unexpected illness or accident.  If you have relatives or friends coming to Canada you can arrange to cover them on Visitors insurance.

There are basically two types of policies available: 1. New conditions only covered or 2. stable chronic conditions covered on an emergency basis.  Surprisingly almost all insurers only cover new conditions on visitors plans and completely exclude stable chronic conditions if they result in complications requiring emergency medical assistance.  Because we are a Broker, we have some companies which can cover most Pre existing conditions, and we can tell you if you qualify for this type of plan if you contact us directly.

In most cases our companies which provide pre existing conditions are competitive with others that don't and in some cases are actually lower priced. However even if pre existing conditions coverage is a little more in premium, would you prefer to buy a cheap policy that does not provide this benefit?

Coverage can be purchased with benefits as low as $10,000 limit per person and generally go up to $100,000 or $150,000 limits.  We do have some higher limit options in some cases.  As with all insurance plans when the potential loss is not known in advance, it is recommended you purchase as high a limit as you can afford.

Additional plans sold through our office:

Although travel insurance and visitors insurance are our main sales, we do have available Extended Health/Dental/Drug plans as well as Banking and MasterCard applications available through our contracting with Manulife Bank -yes, thats the one you saw on TV.  For Life, Disability and RRSPs we have a great associate who handles those enquiries for us!

 

 

  • mailtoRay@IceColdNorth.com att: Kipp Battiston or Ray Battiston
  • Ray Battiston, BA, CAIB, CIP,      Canadian Travel Medical Insurance Broker
    BOX 510, 7 RED HAVEN DRIVE, ST DAVIDS ONTARIO L0S 1P0 CANADA
    1-800-526-7420 Toll Free North America
    Business: 1 905-262-6575;
      fax 1-8666-14-8753    Office hours: Monday -Friday, 9 AM-5PM EST, closed holidays  (voice messages and e mail checked after hours)


    Disclaimer: Please refer to policies for complete details. It is recommended you speak with a qualified Insurance Broker prior to purchase. On line policy information is available for your  personal research. Call us or e mail us first before making your buying decision!


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  • mailto:Ray@IceColdNorth.com  or  mailto:Kipp@IceColdNorth.com
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    (c) 1996-2015, Raymond Battiston.  Revised March 9, 2015