A still strong Canadian dollar means more families are likely to choose U.S. destinations for their winter vacations this year.
The chances are good, however, that most of those crossing the border won’t have adequate travel insurance, maintains Milan Korcok, editor of the Travel Insurance File.
Too many travellers rationalize their way out of buying travel insurance by touting how healthy they are, how small a risk they run by just staying out of the country for a weekend, or how if they did start to feel ill, they’d quickly pop back home, he maintains.
Here are just a few of the misconceptions that get people in trouble:
Myth #1: You Only Need Coverage Outside Canada
While it’s true that travelling within Canada presents a lesser risk, you’re not necessarily in the clear once you cross provincial borders.
While provinces and territories all have standing agreements that allow Canadians from other regions to seek emergency medical treatment without cost, that doesn’t mean all costs are covered.
You’ll still face out-of-pocket charges for things like ambulance fees, prescription drugs, or home care services – all of which can add up, particularly for older travellers.
If you get into trouble and need to head home to take advantage of a service or drug unavailable in the province you’re visiting, for instance, an air ambulance could cost you thousands of dollars.
Myth #2: Airlines Will Look After The Costs Of Cancelled Departures
Unfortunately, airlines often don’t help out with the costs incurred by travelers, particularly when a flight is cancelled due to weather – a common experience in Canada.
Generally, an overnight stay in a hotel, food and even the rebooking of a flight if necessary will be your responsibility – unless you’ve bought a trip cancellation package. Most packages cover things like lost luggage as well.
Shop around. Some policies only cover expenses after 12 hours of the delay while others are more generous. Either way, you’ll only collect only if you can prove that you tried and couldn’t recover your losses from the airline or tour packager, Korcok cautions.
Myth #3: My Age Or Health Means I Won’t Qualify
There are plans with no age limits available. While some high-risk or unstable medical conditions can’t be covered, it’s still possible for you to qualify for coverage for expenses that aren’t related to your existing health issue, Travel Insurance File reports.
Don’t be tempted to lie about your medical status in the hope of the insurer not finding out you had a pre-existing condition.
Being up front means that an unexpected illness or injury, like food poisoning or a broken bone, would still be covered since it had nothing to do with your previous health.
Myth #4: My Credit Card Will Cover Any Costs
Many travel rewards credit cards offer trip protection as a cardholder perk. However, most don’t provide the full extent of coverage contained in a standard travel insurance package.
They often only cover accidents, not illness. More often than not, your coverage is also limited to travel costs that were paid for with that card.
If you’re heading to a high-risk destination or traveling to airports in remote locations, make sure your credit card travel insurance package includes lost baggage protection, trip cancellation coverage and other basics.
In some cases, you may want to consider buying extended coverage to make sure you’re fully protected for the entire trip.
Myth #5: Travel Policies Are Simply Too Expensive
Although it may seem expensive, travel insurance is actually very affordable when you look at the downside, Korcok maintains.
For frequent border crossers, there’s no substitute for the annual, multi-trip policy, he believes. You buy it once a year and you can take as many trips as you wish out of the country without having to fill out more applications, or making additional payments.
These multi-trip plans come in blocks of several different periods. For instance, if you buy a 15-day policy, you can take an unlimited number of days up to but not exceeding 15 days throughout the year.
One limitation is that you must return to your home province for at least one day between travel segments, he adds.