By SHANNON KELLY
Most of us are aware of the risks of travelling without medical insurance outside of Canada, but what about travelling to a different province? Turns out you can still be liable for quite a few expenses. And insurance policies for coverage within Canada can be just as tricky to navigate.
Here are seven tips to avoid getting stuck with a broken appendage and a giant medical bill.
1. Cover yourself, even in Canada. Even if you don’t plan to leave the country, you may not be fully covered in a different province. Fees for hospital stays and ambulance or helicopter emergency transport, for example, may come out of your pocket. This can add up to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Know what your province covers and what it doesn’t. We’ve linked to policies for residents of every province below; click here to read your province’s policy.
2. Know who you’re buying from. One tip that Susan Eng, Vice President for Advocacy at CARP, a non-profit advocacy organization for seniors, shared in a recent episode of CBC’s Marketplace is to buy insurance from a licensed insurance agent. These agents are skilled in interpreting the legalese in the forms. Vancouver-based independent insurance brokerage firm David Cummings Insurance Services recommends plans with full medical underwriting, because “while these plans take more work to apply for and will often cost more, the benefit is that you can get an offer of insurance that confirms in writing what conditions in your health history can be covered.”
3. Read (and understand) the fine print. Insurance companies don’t make policies easy to read. A cynic might say that the the language is purposefully confusing so it’s easy for insurance companies wriggle out of paying up later. Whatever the reason, it’s important to read the often many pages of dry, laborious language before signing. And it’s important to note that an insurance company can deny a claim even if the mistake you made has nothing to do with the condition for which you’re making a claim.
4. Understand the fine print. Get confirmation on anything you don’t understand. Our rule of thumb is to confer with at least two sources: a licensed insurance broker or insurance lawyer and your doctor. Know that (and speaking from personal experience) a test that came back negative for a certain condition can still qualify as treatment for that condition.
4. Be honest—to a fault. Never lie, stretch the truth or provide an answer you’re unsure of. In fact, it’s best to err on the side of providing information than may be necessary.
5. Delve deep into your medical history. Forgetfulness could be a critical error. If you’ve had any health complications in the past, flag sections in the policy that might pertain, then review these with an insurance broker and your doctor. Also, get a list of all your medications from your pharmacy, even those you haven’t filled.
6. Know what’s not covered. Some activities that are popular for vacationers, like zip-line tours, dog sledding and kayaking, may only be covered with an additional premium—or in the case of more intense activities like rock climbing or skydiving, not covered at all. Oh, and if you were drinking before or during your accident, it’s a good bet you won’t be covered.
7. Alert the insurance company to changes. If you get a new prescription or are treated for anything between the time you submit your application to the beginning of your trip, make the insurance company aware of it. Any change could change your coverage.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nunavut – for details, contact the Government of Nunavut by phone at 877-212-6438 or 867-975-6000
Prince Edward Island