Pattie Lovett-Reid: The financial pitfalls of travelling without insurance
Whether you’re escaping for the holidays or from the holidays, travel during this busy season can be stressful – including getting organized. From arranging for pets’ care to water shut off and alerting the alarm company, the checklist of reminders is long. But according to a recent RBC survey, it turns out that Canadians are more likely to remember to bring electronics than travel insurance.
Cathy Preston, VP of Life & Health for RBC Insurance, offers a couple of things to consider when buying travel insurance, and why you shouldn’t leave home without it:
- Where are you going? Many people are choosing to travel to more exotic or remote locations, and take for granted the fragile economies or climates where there is often a higher risk of anything from epidemics to civil unrest. But even traditionally “safe” locations can experience unexpected events, from outbreaks on a cruise ship to something like H1N1. Get familiar with the different types of coverage available. Ask about medical evacuation, and if they offer trip cancellation for any reason.
- Age doesn’t matter. Only 26 per cent of young adults (18- 34) surveyed consider bringing travel insurance, perhaps thinking they are less likely to need it. But the reality is that they more prone to taking risks or engaging in adventurous pursuits that can lead to an increased chance of injury. But whether lying on the beach or skydiving, accidents and external events don’t discriminate by age. Ask about coverage for emergency medical treatments.
- What’s the language? If English isn’t widely spoken in the country you are visiting, ensure your travel insurance gives you access to a 24-hour emergency medical assistance phone line that you can call from anywhere in the world.
- Do you have a pre-existing condition? You can still get coverage, but your condition must be considered stable prior to travel, usually between 3-6 months before departure. Find out exactly what your travel insurance covers. And if you require a syringe for medications, remember to get a signed letter from your doctor explaining why it’s medically necessary.
- Are you travelling with gifts? During the holiday chaos, baggage is more susceptible to getting lost, stolen or damaged en route. Ask about travel insurance that includes baggage and personal effects coverage, which can help protect you in case your luggage goes missing.
Travel insurance like any type of insurance is best if never used but invaluable should you need. As the familiar jingle goes – don’t leave home without it.