The MSH Experience: Client Services

Matthieu was hiking in a canyon in Peru when he fell several meters, fracturing his kneecap and elbow. “After 12 days in a local hospital, I was sent back to France where I spent 2 more weeks in the hospital and months getting physiotherapy,” he remembers. Matthieu’s hospitalization, repatriation, and rehabilitation expenses were all covered: “Without my MSH travel health insurance, it would have been a real nightmare. €16,000 for the hospital and €50,000 for my repatriation with two air ambulances – can you imagine?”

This is how we can help you travel with confidence:

  • full international healthcare coverage
  • in-house 24/7 multilingual support
  • healthcare professionals and security specialists
  • hospitalization, rehabilitation, and repatriation
  • access to extensive, high quality medical network
  • different coverage level and options to enhance your plan

Proudly supporting international mobility for more than 40 years. Wherever you are going and growing, we have a plan.

Have inquiries or would like to receive a quote? Contact us now!

International & US inquiries
Pamela Kwiatkowski, Chief Revenue Officer
m+ 1 416 640 7868e pamela.kwiatkowski@americas.msh-intl.com

Sales Inquiries
Jasmine Bender, Sales Executive
m.+ 1 403 705 0174e jasmine.bender@americas.msh-intl.com

Susanne Hendrickson, Director of Sales
m+ 1 604 561 0381 e Susanne.hendrickson@americas.msh.intl.com

General Inquiries
d+ 1 800 672 6089e sales@americas.msh-intl.com

The MSH Experience: Corporate Client Stories

Ines, a 37-year old woman from Spain, was working for a leading global energy company in Mozambique when she discovered she was expecting twins. She informed MSH and the team immediately put her in touch with MSH’s medical director. Ines decided to give birth at the specialized clinic in South Africa recommended by the medical director and stayed in touch with the MSH medical team throughout her pregnancy. Everything went smoothly and now Ines and her babies are doing well.

This is how we can help you travel with confidence:

  • for organizations of all sizes and industries
  • full international healthcare coverage
  • in-house 24/7 multilingual support
  • healthcare professionals and security specialists
  • hospitalization, rehabilitation, and repatriation
  • access to extensive, high quality medical network
  • different coverage level and options to enhance your plan

Proudly supporting international mobility for more than 40 years. Wherever you are going and growing, we have a plan.

Have inquiries or would like to receive a quote? Contact us now!

International & US inquiries
Pamela Kwiatkowski, Chief Revenue Officer
m+ 1 416 640 7868e pamela.kwiatkowski@americas.msh-intl.com

Sales Inquiries
Jasmine Bender, Sales Executive
m.+ 1 403 705 0174e jasmine.bender@americas.msh-intl.com

Susanne Hendrickson, Director of Sales
m+ 1 604 561 0381 e Susanne.hendrickson@americas.msh.intl.com

General Inquiries
d+ 1 800 672 6089e sales@americas.msh-intl.com

Canada Dropping Pre-entry Test Requirement for Fully Vaccinated Travellers

It seems that each day brings us one step closer to pre-pandemic life.

As of April 1, 2022, Canada will no longer require pre-entry tests for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada. However, travellers may still be selected for mandatory random testing.

Until then, pre-entry test requirements, including the submission of information via ArriveCAN, remain in place.

For more information, we encourage schools to share the Government of Canada link with international students: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/covid-vaccinated-travellers-entering-canada

As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.

The StudyInsured Team

Get Ready for Snowbird Season with COVID COVERAGE!

As the weather cools off in the Great North, and snowbirds get ready to set off to warmer destinations, make sure they’re prepared for their travels… and you could win monthly prizes!


Sell snowbird insurance and you could WIN!

Contest ends December 31st, 2021

Until the end of the year, every Snowbird policy you sell is a ballot entry for a monthly draw to WIN a $100 Amazon gift card! Don’t miss out!

Easily reach out to a member of our Insurance Solutions Sales Team and find the plan that best fits your client’s travelling needs.

Email us for more information at msh.agent@americas.msh-intl.com or call +1 416 730 8488 (or toll-free at +1 800 360 3234).

StudyInsured™ kicks off 2021 with newly streamlined, student-focused phone line, StudyInsured™ Assistance

PRESS RELEASE, TORONTO, February 1, 2021 – StudyInsured™ announced today the launch of StudyInsured™ Assistance, a single phone line providing all-encompassing medical assistance and mental health support for its students. The in-house line features centralized resources for students, via a single phone number, for all their assistance needs, including:

• A crisis line for mental health support via the Stay Healthy at School program

• Medical assistance and health care guidance

• Insurance coverage queries and claim support.

“It’s all about making sure the resources we provide to students are easily identifiable – the simpler, the better,” said Susanne Hendrickson, Director, Sales. With in-house assistance previously named Intrepid 24/7, the new branding of StudyInsured™ Assistance reflects the company’s commitment to simplifying and streamlining student products and support. Intrepid 24/7 will remain the company’s assistance line for white label services and various non-student clientele.

StudyInsured™ has provided student insurance services for over 70 years. The organization continues to raise the bar to provide products and services that evolve with the needs of the thousands of international students it serves across Canada and beyond.

About MSH

MSH International (Americas) comprises MSH International, StudyInsured™ and Intrepid 24/7. These are all subsidiaries of SIACI SAINT HONORE, a world leader in the design & management of international health care and life and disability insurance solutions for globally mobile individuals. Its services are designed for employees of multinationals, micro-businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, workers in international organizations, individual expatriates and local high net worth individuals in need of international insurance coverage. Thanks to its decentralized structure, 4 regional head offices in Toronto, Paris, Dubai and Shanghai and 18 service offices worldwide, MSH International (Americas) provides round-the-clock assistance to 2,000 corporate clients and over 400,000 insured members in nearly 200 countries.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Pamela Kwiatkowski, Senior VP Distribution and Client Experience

Direct +1.416.640.7868 email: Pamela.kwiatkowski@americas.msh-intl.com

Susanne Hendrickson Director of Sales

Direct: +1.604-561-0381 email: Shendrickson@americas.msh-intl.com.

COMPLAINT EXAMINATION AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION POLICY

This policy is in compliance with the provisions set out in the Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services (Quebec) pertaining to complaint examination and dispute resolution.

1.           Purpose of the policy

1.1         The purpose of this policy is to set up a free and fair procedure for examining all complaints received by us (the “firm”). It is intended, in particular, to govern the receipt of complaints, the delivery of the acknowledgement of receipt to the complainant, the creation of the complaint file, the transfer of the file to the Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) and the compilation of complaints for the purpose of preparing and filing a semi-annual report with the AMF.

2.           Person in charge

2.1         The person in charge of the application of the policy for the Province of Quebec is Ghada Darwish.

2.2         As the person in charge of the application of the policy for Quebec, this person shall also act as the representative with respect to the AMF. She shall train the personnel and, in particular, provide the personnel with the necessary information for compliance with this policy.

2.3         As well, the person in charge shall have the following duties:

(a)         send an acknowledgement of receipt;

(b)         send the file to the AMF, at the complainant’s request;

(c)          keep a complaint register up to date;

(d)         file a semi-annual report with the AMF.

3.           Complaint

3.1         For the purposes of the policy, a complaint is the expression of at least one of the following three elements:

(a)         a reproach against the firm, one of its brokers or one of its employees;

(b)         the identification of real or potential harm to a consumer;

(c)          a request for remedial action.

3.2         Any first consumer communication or informal step aimed at correcting a particular problem is not a complaint, insofar as the problem is dealt with by one of the firm’s operational divisions.

4.           Receipt of the complaint

4.1         A consumer who wishes to file a complaint must do so in writing to the following email address resolution_canada@msh-intl-com.

4.2         A broker or an employee who receives a complaint shall immediately forward it to his immediate supervisor or to the person in charge of the application of this policy.

4.3         The person in charge shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 5 business days. The acknowledgement of receipt shall contain the following information:

(a)         a copy of this policy;

(b)         a description of the complaint;

(c)          the name and contact information of the person in charge of examining the complaint;

(d)         in the case of an incomplete complaint, a notice requesting additional information to which the complainant must respond within five business days, failing which the complaint will be considered to have been abandoned;

(e)         a notice informing the complainant of his right to request, upon the expiry of the period of 15 business days set for obtaining all necessary information, but no later than one year following the answer to the complaint, the transfer of his file to the AMF if he is dissatisfied with the outcome of the examination of his complaint or the examination itself. The notice shall also indicate that the AMF may offer mediation if the parties agree;

(f)          a notice reminding the complainant that mediation is an amicable settlement process in which a third party intercedes with the parties to assist them in reaching a satisfactory agreement.

5.           Creation of the complaint file

5.1         A separate file shall be created for each complaint.

5.2         The file shall contain the following:

(a)         the complainant’s written complaint, including one of three elements of a complaint (reproach against the firm, its broker or employee; real or potential harm; and remedial action request);

(b)         the outcome of the complaint examination process (analysis and supporting documents);

(c)          a copy of the firm’s final written answer, containing reasons for the answer, as sent to the complainant.

6.           Complaint examination

6.1         Upon receipt of a complaint, the person identified under paragraph 4.2, his superior and the person in charge of complaints shall conduct an investigation.

6.2         The complaint shall be examined within 15 business days following receipt of all required information.

6.3         After the investigation, the person in charge shall send the complainant a final answer in writing, containing reasons for the decision.

7.           Transfer of the file to the AMF

7.1         If the complainant is not satisfied with the result of the examination of his complaint or with the examination itself, he may ask the firm to transfer his file to the AMF.

7.2         The complainant may exercise this right only upon the expiry of the maximum time limit of 15 business days allowed for obtaining a final answer, but without exceeding a period of one year following this answer.

7.3         The file transferred to the AMF shall include all the documents regarding the complaint.

8.           Creating and updating a register

8.1         A complaint register shall be established by the firm for purposes of the application of the policy. The person in charge shall be responsible for keeping the register up to date.

8.2         Any complaint that falls within the definition found in section 3 shall be recorded in the register.

9.           Semi-annual report

No later than one month after December 31 and June 30 of each year, the person in charge shall file a report with the AMF indicating the number and nature of complaints received in the last six months, according to categories set forth in the register.

10.         Notice to brokers and other employees of the firm

The person in charge shall ensure that brokers and other employees of the firm are made aware and have a copy of this policy.

11.         Effective date

This policy is effective as of September 22, 2020.

MSH Americas and StudyInsured™ are proud to announce the launch of the International Student Wellness Hub

Our mission at MSH Americas will always be the same: to respond to the needs of today’s globally-mobile individuals and organizations with innovated products and industry leading duty of care solutions.

We have been protecting international students and supporting schools to improve the study aboard experience in Canada and around the world. Being able to anticipate the changing landscape of the international education industry and responding to the needs of students and schools is what sets StudyInsured™ apart from the competition.

To continue this legacy, we are proud to bring the International Student Wellness Hub to our students, schools, and partners here at home and around the world.

The Hub is the ultimate resources for international students and schools, to find useful and practical information during this uncertain time due to COVID-19. The Hub includes information on:

1. Mental Health Tip Sheets for students: Information and tips for your mental health, and learning From the Front Lines with our Medical Director, Dr. Michael Szabo

2. COVID-19 Useful Links for students: To guide our students regarding Government updates

3. Provincial Resources for students: International Student programs and COVID-19 information by province

4. Finance & Job Opportunities for students: How students can manage their finances, plus job searching tips

5. Information & Resources for Schools: Tips for educators and administrators to assist students with well-being

We hope the Hub helps international students, schools and administrators through this difficult time! We would love to hear from you, feel free to share your feedback and suggestions to marketing@americas.msh-intl.com

Earn FREE Continuing Education (CE) credits with: Pre-Ex 101: Insurance Rules for Pre-Existing Conditions

What you’ll learn:

  • How to identify what constitutes a pre-existing condition
  • Whether your client’s condition is insurable
  • The application process and its requirements
  • How to guide applicants through application process

Register today for one of the upcoming sessions!

Hosted by subject matter experts:

Gail Roberts, Sales Executive

Alannah Amantea, Sales Executive

Enable a successful return to work for employees…

…while taking mental health into account

As companies around the world organize their employees’ “physical” return to work, questions about the psychological challenges employees experienced during the lockdown should be addressed. Taking into account the mental health impacts of COVID-19 will fortify a safe and successful return to work. This webinar will help to better understand these impacts by reviewing concrete examples and recommending practical measures to implement.

O U R   E X P E R T S   W I L L   D I S C U S S :

  • Psychological occurrences and effects during lockdown
  • Steps management should take to adapt to the diversity of employees’ psychological needs
  • A global overview of best practices, based on real-life cases
  • Q&A (20 min)

The session takes place at 8:00AM – 9:00AM (EDT) on Thursday, June 25, 2020. It is especially relevant for anyone in a leadership or Human Resources role.

OUR SPEAKERS:

Dr. Annie PEYTAVIN
Chief Medical Officer, MSH International

Based in Paris, Dr. Peytavin is Chief Medical Officer of MSH International. She coordinates the activities of all MSH medical teams (including doctors and nurses) across regional head offices in Toronto, Paris, Tunis, Dubai and Shanghai.


Barbara MATTISON
Senior trainer, Psychotherapist, Eutelmed

For over 20 years, Barbara has worked with individuals and teams to develop their strengths in international situations. Born in the United States, and having resided in the US, Canada, the UK and Algeria, she is a psychotherapist and senior trainer based in Paris. Her interventions within organizations generally encompass management and team solutions, intercultural communication or international mobility.


Albane GIACON
Clinical Psychologist, Project Manager, Eutelmed

Albane Giacon is a psychologist, psychosocial risk consultant and project manager at Eutelmed. She has resided and worked in the US, China, India and France. Her expertise includes work changes, stress and conflict management.


Please note that participation in this webinar is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. Full details on how to join will be sent upon registration. A recorded version will be made available after the session for those unable to participate.

The latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Opera are the best advisable options for webinar access.

Best regards,

The MSH International and Eutelmed teams

Happy Birthday, Canada! How Old Are You Now?

You might hear people say that Canada is turning 153 years old this year. What this really means is that we’re celebrating the 153rd anniversary of the Constitution Act of 1867, which established Canada as a country. In actuality, this place is a whole lot older than 150 years!

Long before European settlers showed up, this land was inhabited by Canada’s First Nations. In fact, they’ve been living in the place we now call Canada for at least 12,000 years. (Learn more about the first peoples of Canada.)

Of course, having lived here for such a long time, our various First Nations groups have their own unique explanations as to how our country came to be. Read some of those creation stories here—and find out why some know North America better as “Turtle Island.”

For the key events in Canadian history since Europeans came to our shores, see this summary of Canada’s history from the Canadian government (also available in French). It has an audio version, too!

How Big is Canada?

Canada is huge! It spans 9.9 million square kilometres—and it’s second in land mass only to Russia. It also has the world’s longest coastline at 243,000 km.

Despite being so big, when it comes to population size, Canada is only number 35 on this list. In other words, we have plenty of open space to discover!

Check out this collection of maps to help you explore Canada further.

More to Discover

Every Canadian who had a television in the ’90s will have many memories of Canadian Heritage Minutes—short films about important moments in Canadian history. Good news for newcomers: You can still get up to speed on your Canadian nostalgia, as all of the Heritage Minutes are available online! (Watch now.)

Working Out at Home Like a Pro during COVID-19

As the world adjusts to life during the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are spending much more time at home than we usually would. Whatever routines we may have had just a few short months ago have had to adapt and change. And current social distancing guidelines meaning that in-person fitness classes are not likely to come back any time soon.

The good news is that there are plenty of exercises you can complete in the comfort of your own home, right now—no fancy equipment required. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your at-home workout.

  1. Start with bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercises are just what they sound like: rather than relying on equipment or weights, they use the weight of your body—like push-ups and sit-ups, for example. This makes them easy to complete pretty much anywhere. (Just don’t forget to stretch first!)

Here are some of the bodyweight exercises most recommended by experts:

Try incorporating a few of these exercises into your routine. Some experts recommend choosing about five exercises, doing each one for a minute, and then repeating that set of exercises three to five times.

  • Turn everyday household objects into gym equipment

If you’re stuck at home but still want to vary your routine like you would at the gym, there are plenty of ways to use the things around you for a more interesting workout.

  • Chair workouts: A chair is an incredibly versatile helper when it comes to at-home exercise. Try using it for exercises like step-ups and triceps dips. You can even use a chair as a guide during your squats: try to stop just before your butt touches the seat.
  • Staircase workouts: If you have a staircase in your home, you have everything you need for a variety of workouts. For some intense cardio, try alternating walking, jogging, and running up and down your staircase. You can also use your stairs to assist you during lunges and mountain climbers.
  • Everyday objects as weights: No need to stop lifting, even if you don’t own weights: consider using heavy objects like jugs filled with water to keep up with your weight training. You can also keep practising your form by lifting something like a broomstick instead of a barbell. Even if they’re not as heavy as you would normally prefer at the gym, experts suggest that using these sorts of methods can be a big help in keeping you on track until your regular training can resume.
  • Consult the Internet for easy-to-follow routines

From livestreamed yoga classes to instructional fitness videos, the Internet is full of resources to help you make an at-home plan and stick to it.

If you find the variety of workouts out there overwhelming and need some help deciding what exactly to do, consider trying an at-home workout routine that sets out a specific plan for you to follow. Or search YouTube for an instructor who motivates you.

  • Remember: The first step is always the hardest

When it comes to working out, one of the hardest parts is simply getting started. And in a time of unusual stress and uncertainty like now, it can be especially difficult to find the motivation for—well—anything.

If you’re having trouble getting into an at-home exercise routine, you are not alone. Here are a few tips to help you conquer that mental block:

  • Just do a few minutes. If you can’t seem to summon the motivation to do a full workout, try just doing some exercise for a few minutes, with the permission to quit after that. It can be a lot easier to get started when you know that all you’re signing up for is a couple of quick and easy squats—and much of the time, you’ll find that once you’ve gotten yourself started, you will suddenly find the motivation to continue longer than you expected. (But if you find yourself tapping out after those first few minutes—hey, that’s okay. The important thing is that you stayed in the routine, and you can try again tomorrow.)
  • Celebrate your progress. It’s okay to start small—the most important thing is that you got started. Don’t worry about how many sets you can do relative to anyone else. Instead, focus on how many push-ups, squats, or burpees you can do today, and then see if you can best that number by just one tomorrow. In time, you’ll be amazed by how far you come. Each step is worthy of celebrating!

Visit our International Student Wellness Hub to learn more tips about health!

Five Self-Isolating Tips From A Nuclear Submarine Captain

The evolution of the brain is the most obvious example of how we evolve to adapt.

Rick Potts, Director of the Human Origins program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

We’re all living in a new world, and the self-isolation that comes with it. As social beings, we’re used to living our lives by connecting and empathizing with others. Read on for some survival tips on how to cope with our new reality, as told by a nuclear submarine captain about his experience on a U-boat.

1.           Ask questions: “How are you feeling today?” has become our new greeting – and that’s fine. We need to reach out to friends and family and check in every day. It instills empathy and reminds us to feel that we’re not alone.

2.           Think first, act later: When living through stressful situations, we tend to act on instinct. Let’s slow down the decision-making process and implement a ‘think, then do’ action plan.

3.           Focus on one thing: As with days, it’s important to take one task at a time. Multi-tasking during this time may compromise the quality of what you’re trying to do.

4.           Discipline: Create a ‘downtime routine’ in a quiet space. By this point, you know what routine works best for you, so stick with it, at your own pace.

5.           Maintain a clean environment: Your external world reflects your inner world. Keeping everything in order helps to maintain levels of calm and boost your creativity

The most important thing is to focus on what you can control, one day at a time. No matter how challenging our new world may be, we have the capacity to think creatively to get us through it.

[CE Credit Webinar] Managing Expats: Know the Landscape, Seize the Opportunity

Attention agents and brokers in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario!

Are you looking for free Continuing Education (CE) credits?

Do you know the difference between a travel insurance solution and iPMI (International Private Medical Insurance)? Do you want to learn how to successfully overcome global mobility challenges? Get the right global mobility strategy to embrace these changing times in a free CE Credit Webinar on Wednesday, April 29 or Wednesday, May 6, sponsored by MSH International (Americas).

Join this session to learn:

  • How to define an expatriate vs. a global citizen
  • Solutions for an improved travel and health care experience for globally mobile clients
  • Best practices on how to provide value amid changing global circumstances

Register today for one of the upcoming sessions:

Hosted by Sales Executives, Alannah Amantea and Addie Ziprick

Sponsored by MSH International (Americas)

Introducing MSH HealthExtend

Flexible, everyday health coverage, affordably priced

Is your client…

In need of a benefit plan?

We can help them take care of their health and wellness.

We partner with the world’s best providers of health benefit plans to bring your clients uninterrupted health coverage, tailored to their needs.

Our expert advisors are with you every step of the way to help you choose the right product and streamline the enrollment process.

Contact our Health & Insurance Solutions Team
Call toll-free: 1 800 292 9460
Email: msh.agent@americas.msh-intl.com

10 Tips to Help International Students Survive Self-Isolation

For the 642,000 international students currently in Canada, COVID-19 presents a challenging situation, leaving them isolated and financially vulnerable with few options available. Studies have shown that loneliness can damage mental and physical health, leading to depression. Some students may face problems processing information, and have difficulties with memory retention, recall and decision-making.  

Our minds can serve as our best friend or worst enemy during such times. As guardians for and carers of international students, we want to share these 10 tips to help them survive the COVID-19 crisis: 

  1. Kill isolation with daylight: Our circadian rhythm can change in only 24 hours without daylight, impacting our sleep cycle and making isolation feel worse. An increase in daylight exposure reduces levels of melatonin, helping students to feel more alert and awake.
  2. Encourage moderation of online activities: Find activities that don’t require a screen. Students are accustomed to stimulation from mobile devices so disconnecting is important for them to reconnect with themselves. This may be accomplished by simple tasks such as preparing a meal or house cleaning.
  3. Teach them to be their own best friend: The truth is students only have themselves right now so the need to find inner strength and peace is crucial.  There are multiple exercises that can help such as meditation, self-affirmation and writing a journal.
  4. Practise xenophobia-awareness: International students, especially those of Asian origin, have dealt with micro-aggressions stemming from xenophobia (prejudice and the fear of foreigners) with the spread of COVID-19.
  5. Start a community WhatsApp or Facebook group: Reaching out to isolated students can be meaningful and helpful stay connected with students and keep them in the loop.
  6. Find cross-cultural counsellors: Reach out (virtually) to cross-cultural counsellors with experience with international students. Take this as an opportunity to find volunteers who want to help. 
  7. Re-adjust rule structures: Create a list of at-home activities and rules to avoid boredom for students. Have a game plan to keep them busy and entertained.
  8. Give yourself space: In these moments, stress levels and short fuses can increase for everyone. Decide upon and recognize a signal that means “enough”, then take a moment to collect yourself in a different room. Remember to stay positive and learn how to find peace when someone strains your patience.
  9. Encourage them to exercise: By Increasing our heart rate, more oxygen is pumped to our brain. This results in a plethora of hormones to better our brain function.
  10. Help them create a new plan: Students need to understand that these challenging times will not last forever. Help them to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that they can think about the next step and what they plan on doing after this has passed. This will teach them a great life lesson to reapply in future difficult situations.

COVID-19 Expatriates FAQ’s

Effective Date: March 26, 2020
Please note: This FAQ document replaces any and all previous versions.
Currently Available in English Only.

Can I receive COVID-19 testing even if I have no symptoms?

Since medical benefits are largely limited to expenses related to unforeseen emergencies requiring immediate attention, elective testing for COVID-19 is unfortunately not covered. If you are in Canada, please check with your province’s Ministry of Health for COVID-19 testing details. For example, in Ontario, COVID-19 testing is covered at no charge, regardless of your eligibility under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Where do I go for COVID-19 testing?

If you are in Canada, please visit the website for your province’s Ministry of Health to view a list of assessment centres in your area.

Are over-the-counter COVID-19 screening kits (such as those available in pharmacies) covered?

Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications, including screening kits, are not covered.

Does my policy cover medical expenses related to COVID-19? 

All policies with effective dates before the Government of Canada’s global travel advisory issued on March 13, 2020 will cover emergency COVID-19 treatment not covered by government insurance, provided the trip destination was not under a travel advisory at the time of departure. It must be noted, however, that governments normally cover pandemic-related treatment costs.

Will my policy provide repatriation coverage if I get COVID-19 and need to be returned to my home country?

Unfortunately, our Assistance service excludes coverage for repatriation that requires transportation in a biohazard isolation unit.

Am I covered by trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?

Canadian travel insurers determine this on an individual policy basis. Policies purchased after the Government of Canada’s global advisory against non-essential travel issued on March 13, 2020 may not provide coverage for trip cancellations related to COVID-19.

What do I do if I get sick while I am travelling?

If you begin to feel symptoms related to COVID-19, contact Assistance at 1-866-883-9787, toll-free from Canada or the United States, or at 1-416-640-7865 from anywhere in the world.

Assistance will help to assess your symptoms and direct you, as needed, to a hospital or clinic for the appropriate care. Depending on your specific situation, Assistance is also available to:

  • Provide interpretation services to help you better communicate with health care personnel
  • Advance funds to a service provider if you’re required to pay up-front for medical care
  • Monitor your case through to recovery

When consulting with a doctor, be sure to disclose if you visited any high-risk areas or have been in contact with anyone who has shown COVID-19 symptoms.

Will I be covered for self-isolation or quarantine—for example, if I need a hotel room?

Precautionary quarantines imposed on travellers due to government restrictions, including upon arrival at a destination or upon return to their home country, are not covered under our Discover Canada policy. However, if your return to your home country is delayed due to a precautionary quarantine, your coverage can be extended provided you remain eligible. Coverage is automatically extended for up to five days under certain circumstances (ex: delayed return due to flight disruption or hospitalization).

Provided their policy took effect before March 13, 2020, insured individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections will be covered the same as with any illness. However, this does not include self-isolation outside of a hospital, as our policies do not cover additional living expenses.

Will my policy limit or end coverage if an official advisory is issued by the Government of Canada?

Most policies exclude expenses incurred in locations for which an advisory was issued before departure. As the Government of Canada advisory against all non-essential travel was issued on March 13, 2020, policies for trips taken after this date would not cover COVID-19 related expenses.

Policies with an effective date up to March 13, 2020 will continue to provide coverage for unforeseen emergency expenses related to COVID-19, as per policy terms. New Canadian government advisories will not affect COVID-19
coverage in these policies. However, expenses related to COVID-19 will not be covered for any travel to, from, or through a country for which the Government of Canada had issued a travel advisory prior to the effective policy date.

Can I still mail information, such as original documents regarding claims, to MSH International?

While our offices are still open and mail continues to be delivered, we kindly ask that claims and supporting information be submitted online or via email.

What if I get sick returning to Canada from abroad?

If you have travelled, or have been in contact with someone who has travelled:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days
  • Contact your local public health authority within 24 hours of your arrival in Canada
  • Follow up with your health care professional

Closely monitor your health. If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing over the 14 days after your return:

  • Call your health care provider or your local public health authority
  • Disclose your symptoms, travel to the outbreak area/area under travel advisory, and/or any contact with individuals with symptoms

If you are sick and need medical attention in Canada:
Notify the medical clinic or hospital in advance. Disclose your symptoms and/or your travel abroad. DO NOT take public transit, an Uber, or a taxi!
– Wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent spreading the illness

If you feel sick before your departure for Canada:
– Do not use any form of public transportation
– Seek medical attention immediately

If you feel sick during travel to or upon your arrival in Canada:
– Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services agent. They will decide whether medical assessment by a quarantine officer is needed

My expatriate plan covers 100% of my medical costs. Does this include care related to COVID-19? Are there reimbursement limits?

All existing MSH International expatriate policies will cover COVID-19 the same as any other illness, based on each policy’s terms and conditions. Any specific exclusions would be listed in the policy exclusions.

My doctor postponed my medical appointment because of COVID-19 and my insurance has since expired. As the postponement wasn’t my fault, will this appointment still be covered?

Unfortunately, since the policy has expired, the appointment will not be covered.

Are there specific hospitals where I can be treated for COVID-19?

Most hospitals are equipped to handle patients with COVID-19 illness. The MSH Provider Tool can provide you with more details on nearby hospitals in our network. If you are seeking COVID-19 treatment, it’s crucial that you call ahead and notify the hospital of your symptoms before visiting.

Who do I contact if I am showing COVID-19 symptoms?

Contact your primary care physician or your province/state’s local public health department for medical guidance and protocols. It’s important to maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others at all times.

I’ve called the health department in my area but can’t reach anyone. What do I do?

If your COVID-19 symptoms are minor to moderate, isolate yourself at home. If you live with others, stay in a separate room, or keep a 2 metre (6 foot) distance away. Continue trying to reach your local health department or primary care physician. If your symptoms worsen (for example, difficulty breathing), call 911, the emergency room of your local hospital, or your urgent care centre. It is crucial to notify them of your condition before you arrive so that the medical team can take the proper precautions.

Contact your account manager if you have any questions about your coverage.

COVID-19 Visitors to Canada FAQ’s

Effective Date: March 26, 2020
Please note: This FAQ document replaces any and all previous versions.
Currently Available in English Only.

Can I receive COVID-19 testing even if I have no symptoms?

Since medical benefits are largely limited to expenses related to unforeseen emergencies requiring immediate attention, elective testing for COVID-19 is unfortunately not covered. If you are in Canada, please check with your province’s Ministry of Health for COVID-19 testing details. For example, in Ontario, COVID-19 testing is covered at no charge, regardless of your eligibility under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Where do I go for COVID-19 testing?

If you are in Canada, please visit the website for your province’s Ministry of Health to view a list of assessment centres in your area.

Are over-the-counter COVID-19 screening kits (such as those available in pharmacies) covered?

Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications, including screening kits, are not covered.

Does my policy cover medical expenses related to COVID-19? 

Visitors to Canada medical insurance policies can cover emergency COVID-19 treatment in Canada, but policy exclusions may apply, such as exclusions related to pre-existing medical conditions. Governments may also cover pandemic-related treatment costs. Expenses related to COVID-19 that occur on side trips outside of Canada would not be covered if the trip destination is under a Canadian travel advisory at the time of departure.

Will my policy provide repatriation coverage if I get COVID-19 and need to be returned to my home country?

Unfortunately, our Assistance service excludes coverage for repatriation that requires transportation in a biohazard isolation unit.

Am I covered by trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?

Canadian travel insurers determine this on an individual policy basis. Policies purchased after the Government of Canada’s global advisory against non-essential travel issued on March 13, 2020 may not provide coverage for trip cancellations related to COVID-19.

What do I do if I get sick while I am travelling?

If you begin to feel symptoms related to COVID-19, contact Assistance at 1-866-883-9787, toll-free from Canada or the United States, or at 1-416-640-7865 from anywhere in the world.

Assistance will help to assess your symptoms and direct you, as needed, to a hospital or clinic for the appropriate care. Depending on your specific situation, Assistance is also available to:

  • Provide interpretation services to help you better communicate with health care personnel
  • Advance funds to a service provider if you’re required to pay up-front for medical care
  • Monitor your case through to recovery

When consulting with a doctor, be sure to disclose if you visited any high-risk areas or have been in contact with anyone who has shown COVID-19 symptoms.

Will I be covered for self-isolation or quarantine—for example, if I need a hotel room?

Precautionary quarantines imposed on travellers due to government restrictions, including upon arrival at a destination or upon return to their home country, are not covered under our Discover Canada policy. However, if your return to your home country is delayed due to a precautionary quarantine, your coverage can be extended provided you remain eligible. Coverage is automatically extended for up to five days under certain circumstances (ex: delayed return due to flight disruption or hospitalization).

Provided their policy took effect before March 13, 2020, insured individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections will be covered the same as with any illness. However, this does not include self-isolation outside of a hospital, as our policies do not cover additional living expenses.

Can I still mail information, such as original documents regarding claims, to MSH International?

While our offices are still open and mail continues to be delivered, we kindly ask that claims and supporting information be submitted online or via email.

What if I get sick returning to Canada from abroad?

If you have travelled, or have been in contact with someone who has travelled:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days
  • Contact your local public health authority within 24 hours of your arrival in Canada
  • Follow up with your health care professional

Closely monitor your health. If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing over the 14 days after your return:

  • Call your health care provider or your local public health authority
  • Disclose your symptoms, travel to the outbreak area/area under travel advisory, and/or any contact with individuals with symptoms

If you are sick and need medical attention in Canada:
Notify the medical clinic or hospital in advance. Disclose your symptoms and/or your travel abroad. DO NOT take public transit, an Uber, or a taxi!
– Wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent spreading the illness

If you feel sick before your departure for Canada:
– Do not use any form of public transportation
– Seek medical attention immediately

If you feel sick during travel to or upon your arrival in Canada:
– Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services agent. They will decide whether medical assessment by a quarantine officer is needed

Am I covered for emergency medical treatment in Canada for COVID-19?

Policies for travel purchased will continue to cover new and unforeseen medical expenses related to COVID-19 infection; however, it’s best to consult your policy wording for specific details. Alternatively, you may contact us for help in determining the impact of COVID-19 on your coverage.

Am I covered if I am from a country with a known outbreak of COVID-19?

Coverage for COVID-19 treatment in this instance will be determined on an individual case basis, taking into account traveller health for the stability period before the policy start date.

Will I be covered if I contract COVID-19 during travel outside of Canada, or on a visit to my home country?

The Discover Canada policy allows for side trips outside of Canada, provided that certain criteria are met (see your policy wording for details). Side trips outside of Canada that took place before the Government of Canada’s global travel advisory issued on March 13, 2020 are covered for emergency COVID-19 related expenses, provided the trip was not made to a country for which an advisory was issued at the time of departure. Side trips after March 13, 2020 are not covered for COVID-19 related expenses.

The Discover Canada policy does not cover expenses incurred during trips to your home country.

You can also call us at 416-730-8488 (or toll-free at 1-800-360-3234) to speak with a customer service representative or email us at helpline@americas.msh-intl.com

Spring Break Part Two: The Caribbean & South America

Spring_Break_Destinations_for_2020

Feel like wandering a little farther afield than your typical Spring Break jaunt? Try venturing to one of these destinations closer to the equator for a tropical getaway.

The Caribbean

Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica are Caribbean hotspots this time of year. It’s worth planning any excursions and activities well in advance. When it comes to dining, made-to-order food stations guarantee fresher and better-quality options. Seafood is a wise, and likelier cheaper choice, given the proximity of these locales to the ocean. Staying at an all-inclusive resort? Check the activity calendar for fun things to do—just be sure to verify what’s included in your stay.

Brazil

The Carnival of Brazil is a feast for the senses. Considered to be one of the world’s biggest parties, the five-day festival features parades with elaborate floats and thousands of dancers and drummers in the streets. Samba with the locals at any of the free live concerts and blocos de rue (neighborhood block parties). These are all-day (and all-night) events so be sure to bring your phone charger but leave your valuables at home.

Colombia

Colombia may be synonymous with coffee, but it’s an ideal destination for nature lovers. Horseback riding tours are popular and available for every riding level. With trails winding through lush forests and pristine beaches, these tours offer a memorable way to experience the diverse scenery. From accommodation to local attractions, Colombia is an inexpensive destination. You’d be hard pressed to find tastier street food—think arepas, tamales, empanadas. For a truly authentic Colombian experience, visit the farmers’ markets for unique arts, crafts, fresh produce, and the best food trucks available.

Peru

Peru offers so much more than Machu Picchu. Its capital, Lima, known as the city of kings, boasts an exciting nightlife, colonial-style architecture, world-class food, and adrenaline-inducing activities such as surfing, paragliding, sandboarding, and ziplining. Numerous museums in the city, and throughout Peru, offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Popular attractions such as Plaza Mayor, Casa De La Literatura and Parque del Amor are also free. The Free Walking Tour Peru group, operated by licensed Indigenous guides, run highly-recommended tours in Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Barranco and Miraflores—and yes, the tours really are free.

COVID-19: STAY SAFE WITH THE FACTS

COVID-19

from the MSH Americas Medical Team

WHAT IS COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

CORONAVIRUSES are a family of viruses causing illness ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Synrdome (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), and COVID-19 (2019-nCoV).

Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and humans. SARS was first transmitted to humans from civet cats; MERS was transmitted to humans by dromedary camels.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Common symptoms are:

  • Fever over 38°C
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath / difficulty breathing

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.

HOW IS IT SPREAD?

COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person by respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. These droplets can be inhaled if you are in close contact with an infected person. Touching objects or surfaces with respiratory droplets on them and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes can also spread the virus.

The time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms is between 5 and 14 days, so the appropriate quarantine period for an individual exposed to COVID-19 is 14 days.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Medical care is focused on managing symptoms, by getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and treating the fever.

PREVENTION IS KEY

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and/or sneeze or cough into a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not use public transportation or taxis. Do not go to work, school, or other public places.
  • If you have symptoms, avoid travel, particularly flying, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If you are travelling to an area known to have cases of COVID-19, avoid:

  • High-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets, and areas where animals may be slaughtered
  • Contact with animals (live or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks, and wild birds
  • Surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them

If you have or may have COVID-19, please refer to this link for more guidelines on preventing the spread of infection.

Top US Spring Break Destinations for 2020

Whatever the reason for your getaway– tired of the cold, need some family time, or just plain burnt out– here are some tips to help you get the most out of your travels during this upcoming spring break. First up, some places to consider for both relaxation and excitement in the continental USA.

3 places to spend a week off in America:

MIAMI, FLORIDA

It’s called the Sunshine State for a reason, so be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of water. The Metromover train is a convenient (and free!) way to get around downtown Miami. If you can’t do without your dose of yoga while on vacay, free classes are offered across the city. View local graffiti and street art at Wynwood Walls or take in one of the live music shows at Bayside Marketplace. A trip to Miami isn’t complete without a visit to Miami Beach, but steer clear of hotel restaurants along Ocean Drive and their 2-for-1 drink offers—they typically include conditions, hidden gratuities, and extra charges, with an astronomically expensive bill as a result.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA

For many families, going to Disney World is a rite of passage but a costly one. Buying bottled water on Disney grounds will seriously hurt your wallet (not to mention the planet!) so do as the locals do and tout your own reusable (non-glass) water bottles. You’ll be able to refill them at water fountains and quick service restaurants around the park. Consider insulated, stainless steel bottles to ensure water stays cold for as long as possible. Bringing snacks for the kids can also be a big money saver, unless you don’t mind paying $7 (US) for a Mickey Mouse pretzel. Be sure to pack the daily essentials—sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, umbrella—as these items are outrageously overpriced. Ditto for the Mickey Mouse ears and other Disney souvenirs—they’re considerably cheaper at stores outside the park. The My Disney Experience app can help maximize family fun by bundling every aspect of your trip, from booking your hotel to researching wait times at attractions to looking for the nearest bathroom and other amenities.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Check out the spectacular Fountains of Bellagio for a beautifully choreographed performance of music, water, and light. The free 15-minute show runs daily and draws huge crowds, so consider getting there early. Tour the hotels along the strip—with their various themes, they’re attractions in their own right, even if you’re not an actual guest. But there’s more to Vegas than just the strip. Sample some tasty brews (try the coffee beer!) at Banger Brewing, learn about some less-than-upstanding historical figures at the Mob Museum, marvel at the views and engineering of the Hoover Dam, or take a short day trip to one of the many nearby natural attractions like the Valley of Fire State Park, the Grand Canyon, or Red Rock Canyon.

10 Things I have Learned About Human Trafficking Since Launching Our Task Force

In the run up to 30 July – World Day against Trafficked Persons, which is calling for governments to take more stringent action to fight Human Trafficking, I took the opportunity to reflect on what I have learned about the issue since WTTC launched its Human Trafficking Task Force at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, April this year. 

  1. Human Trafficking is a big money ‘business’.

According to the International Labour Organization, Human Trafficking is an illicit industry worth more than $150 billion annually, which is equivalent to the entire tourism economy of Brazil ($152.5 billion).

2. Human Trafficking affects everyone, everywhere.

Victims of Human Trafficking are men, women and children, and they can be found in every country in the world. An estimated 24.9 million people are trapped in forced labour:

  • 16 million of which are exploited in the private sector,
  • 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and
  • 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities.

Human Trafficking disproportionately affects females who make up 99% of commercial sexual exploitation cases and 58% in other sectors.

3. You don’t have to be physically moved to be ‘trafficked’.

A common misconception when it comes to Human Trafficking is the idea that a person is ‘trafficked’ from one country to another. In reality, a person need not be physically transported from one location to another in order to be considered a victim of Human Trafficking. In fact, UNODC estimates that the number of people being trafficked within their own country has doubled in recent years to 58% of all detected victims. Human Trafficking is therefore about coercion; forcing someone to do something against their will, and exploiting them.

4. Travel & Tourism is often an unwitting facilitator of Human Trafficking.

Travel & Tourism is responsible for the movement, accommodation and employment of millions of people around the world. These systems and platforms are often used by traffickers to exploit vulnerable people and children.

5. Trying to understand where Human Trafficking is taking place is really complicated.

Human Trafficking is a criminal activity that is hidden in plain sight. The biggest global Travel & Tourism brands have multifaceted organisational structures and operate in numerous and diverse destinations around the world where laws, customs and practices may vary. Value chains can be complex, including contractors, suppliers and other business partners – which could potentially heighten the risk of trafficked persons being hidden within their operations. 

6. Travel & Tourism has a big role to play in the fight against Human Trafficking. 

With 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals and 4 billion air passengers in 2018 alone, the Travel & Tourism sector interacts with billions of customers at all stages of the travel process. This provides an enormous opportunity for companies to raise awareness of the severity and prevalence of Human Trafficking, to encourage responsible tourist behaviour, and to inform travellers how to spot and report suspected cases.

7. Travel & Tourism employees are the eyes and ears on the ground (and in the air).

Travel & Tourism supports 1 in 10 jobs around the world – a total of 313 million people. Aware that their employees interact with millions of different people daily, many Travel & Tourism companies provide training to customer facing employees so that they know how to spot signs of Human Trafficking, how to report suspected cases, and have policies in place to protect whistle-blowers. 

8. There is a role to play in supporting survivors, too.

As one of the largest employers in the world, and in addition to providing advocacy and awareness raising and employee training programmes, some Travel & Tourism companies, namely within the hotel industry are providing much-needed support to survivors including training and employment opportunities.   

9. Global Action is required to tackle a problem of this magnitude.

WTTC launched its Human Trafficking Task Force at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville. Bringing together nearly 20 of the largest global Travel & Tourism brands, the Task Force facilitates information exchange and coordinates efforts across the private sector, while strengthening cooperation with the public sector and civil society.

10. Governments need to wake up and step up – it’s time for action!

While prevention and protection are crucial pillars in the fight against Human Trafficking, we need government support and leadership to take us beyond awareness-raising. Specifically, governments should strengthen the integration with local authorities to ensure perpetrators are duly processed and punished. The weakness in this ‘system’ is the lack of coordination for how to ensure reduction of the crime through the justice system.

Is your Government doing enough to fight Human Trafficking in your country?

New Product Launch: LivExpat. Customizable Benefits That Will Save Your Clients Money.

MSH AMERICAS announces the launch of LivExpat – A flexible, affordable international health insurance plan for 1 – 150 lives.

LivExpat is the beginning of a new generation of flexible, cost efficient and innovative international health insurance plans. Designed to meet the needs of the ever-changing global traveler and SME’s.

LivExpat fully insured plans give you choice; Emergency medical only coverage or Comprehensive medical coverage with optional Disability, Life and AD&D. These plans provide insurance protection with several duration options and mix and match benefits to best suit you and or your employees.

  • Medical including hospitalization, routine and vision care, and prescription drugs, and optional dental care;
  • Evacuation including transportation, hospitalization and repatriation;
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Life & Disability, including Life, Long-Term Disability, Temporary & Permanent Total Disability, and Accidental Death & Dismemberment benefits.

LiveExpat includes access to MSH‘s exclusive Provider Network of more than a million healthcare professionals around the world and MSH’s “in – house” 24/7 assistance and case management.

LivExpat premiums include three geographical zones; high, medium and low risk locations, so that you pay for what you need, ensuring affordability for all members.

Pamela Kwiatkowski, Senior Vice President, Distribution & Client Experience at MSH Americas, says: “SMEs and individuals are changing and their travel and expatriate lifestyles are becoming more diverse and unique in their needs and expectations. It is our mission to make sure they are supported with programs that are flexible and cost appropriate. LivExpat will continue to evolve and deliver a variety of coverage and pricing options for the globally mobile traveler. Individuals and businesses are looking for cost-efficiency without sacrificing essential benefits. At MSH we listened and responded to our partners and will continue to work with them to deliver relevant plans and exceptional service.

LivExpat is further enhanced with our NEW MSH Navigator, a duty of care mobile application including geo tracking, security warnings, travel and city guides, 2-way communication and single touch access to emergency assistance and provider networks.

 


MSH AMERICAS annonce le lancement de LivExpat : un régime d’assurance-maladie international flexible et abordable couvrant de 1 à 150 vies.

LivExpat marque le début d’une nouvelle génération de régimes d’assurance-maladie internationaux flexibles, rentables et novateurs. Ces derniers sont conçus pour répondre aux besoins des voyageurs internationaux et des PME en constante évolution.

Les régimes LivExpat entièrement assurés vous donnent le choix entre une couverture de frais médicaux d’urgence seulement ou une couverture de frais médicaux complète avec les options d’assurance invalidité, d’assurance-vie et d’assurance décès et mutilation par accident. Ces régimes offrent une protection d’assurance avec plusieurs options de durée et associent les avantages qui conviennent à vous et vos employés :

  • les frais médicaux, y compris l’hospitalisation, les soins de routine et les soins de la vue, les médicaments sur ordonnance et les soins dentaires facultatifs;
  • l’évacuation, y compris les frais de transport, d’hospitalisation et de rapatriement;
  • un programme d’aide aux employés;
  • l’assurance-vie et l’assurance invalidité, y compris les prestations d’assurance-vie, d’invalidité de longue durée, d’invalidité totale temporaire et permanente et de décès et mutilation par accident.

Le régime LivExpat comprend un accès au réseau exclusif de fournisseurs de MSH qui compte plus d’un million de professionnels de la santé à travers le monde, ainsi qu’une assistance et une gestion de cas « à l’interne », 24 heures sur 24, sept jours sur sept.

Les primes LivExpat sont établies selon trois zones géographiques : des lieux à risque élevé, à moyen risque et à faible risque, afin que vous payiez pour ce dont vous avez besoin, tout en garantissant des prix abordables pour tous nos membres.

Pamela Kwiatkowski, vice-présidente senior de la distribution et de l’expérience client chez MSH Americas, a déclaré : « Les PME et les personnes évoluent et leurs modes de vie de voyage et d’expatriés sont de plus en plus diversifiés et uniques dans leurs besoins et leurs attentes. Notre mission est de nous assurer qu’ils bénéficient de programmes flexibles et abordables. LivExpat continuera à évoluer et à proposer diverses options de couverture et de tarification au voyageur mobile dans le monde entier. Les particuliers tout comme les entreprises recherchent la rentabilité sans sacrifier les avantages essentiels. Chez MSH, nous avons écouté et répondu à nos partenaires et nous continuerons à travailler avec eux afin de proposer des régimes pertinents et un service exceptionnel. »

LivExpat s’enrichit encore plus grâce à notre NOUVEAU MSH Navigator, une application mobile de devoir de diligence munie de géolocalisation, des alertes de sécurité, des guides de voyage et de ville, un système de communication bidirectionnelle et un accès d’une seule touche aux réseaux d’assistance et de secours d’urgence.


For more information on LivExpat, contact a Sales Executive/Pour plus de renseignements sur LivExpat, veuillez communiquer avec un directeur des ventes:

Alannah Amantea

alannah.amantea@americas.msh-intl.com

Addie Ziprick

addie.ziprick@americas.msh-intl.com

Tel: +1 (403) 705 0174

 

Join Our World Wanderer Club! Experience the World in a Whole New Way.

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World Wanderer Club 

We are excited to introduce the new and exclusive “World Wanderer Club” to you travel lovers! If you’re looking for new places to go, travel secrets and tips, the right products to assist your trips, helpful travel blog posts on current events, and special travel perks, discounts, and contests – this is a travellers’ wonderland for you!

We hope to inspire you to travel and see the world just like we do and to discover places you never knew about.  You can gain a new perspective and educate yourself by travelling abroad as well as learning how to protect yourself when you’re away from home. You can always have fun, but you’ll have the most fun when you’re prepared!

Our World Wanderer Club is your resource for:

  • International travellers
  • Canadian travellers and Visitors to Canada
  • Special risks and adventure travellers
  • Group travellers
  • International student travellers
  • Snowbirds
  • Expatriates

Be entertained, stay informed, and prepare for travel with the World Wanderer Club.

Let us help you travel with confidence!

Travel Navigator Has Been Nominated for an Insurance Business Award

We are pleased to announce that Travel Navigator has received a nomination in this year’s Insurance Business Awards for the IV3 Solutions Award for Excellence in Risk Management.

Travel Navigator keeps over 2.5 million policyholder members informed, connected, and safe worldwide by providing them with real-time alerts, emergency assistance, and a wealth of travel and health information. With all of these resources kept right at travellers’ fingertips, Travel Navigator makes it easier than ever to manage risk on a global scale.

Celebrating the best and brightest in the insurance industry, the Insurance Business Awards gathers top industry players together to recognize outstanding achievement across twenty categories. This year’s winners were announced at the Liberty Grand in Toronto on November 30.

This nomination is a great honour for our company, placing our work among some of the most innovative companies in the industry. Watch some of the highlights of this year’s awards here.

Congratulations to the winners and to our fellow nominees!

Watch the video below for a thank-you message from our CEO.

Spotlight City: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and is the second most populated city in the United Kingdom with about one million people living in the greater Edinburgh area. As part of the United Kingdom, Edinburgh is home to the monarchy, the Scottish Parliament, many historical and cultural attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is the second-most popular tourist destination in the UK. Crime rates are among the lowest in the country.. Before embarking on your adventure through bonny Scotland, be sure to keep a few things in mind to have a safe and enjoyable trip!

 

Threats and risks to travellers in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is considered a safe city by international standards. Its crime rates are comparable to that of any other large city in the world. While violent crime is rare, petty crime may present occasional issues for visitors to the city. Pickpocketing is the most prevalent form of petty crime. Be aware of your surroundings and always be conscious of your belongings in public by keeping your valuables and bags within view. Some neighborhoods in Edinburgh such as those outlined below may be slightly more unsafe than others. Be aware of locations and situations that could make you vulnerable to crime, such as; lane ways, isolated parks and buildings, back streets, and poorly lit parking lots.

Violent crime does not present a major risk in urban Edinburgh. However, street brawls involving intoxicated participants have been known to break out at night. Stay away from all drunks you may encounter in the city. The streets of Edinburgh are generally safe to traverse at night (with the exception of Cowgate, and the Meadows in Old Town, Calton Hill, Lothian Road, and the top of Leith Walk in New Town) as long as you exercise common sense and avoid isolated areas.

edinburgh_2

Personal security practices for travellers

Be extremely cautious when crossing the street, as cars drive on the left and many pedestrians get into accidents for looking the wrong way. Look both ways, and it is not advised to jaywalk even though it is common local practice. Traffic is heavy and can be dangerous if you do not follow pedestrian signals. Exercise common sense such as being aware of your surroundings in crowded areas and at night.

edinburgh_4

What to do in the event of an emergency

In the event of a life-threatening emergency in the United Kingdom, dial 999 or 112. You may also contact your country’s local embassy or consulate. Embassies are located in London; however there are many consulates in Edinburgh. They will be able to provide you with a limited degree of emergency assistance, depending on the nature of the situation. Hotel concierges are also able to provide a limited degree of assistance in emergency situations.

Police Scotland, Scotland’s police force, maintains a presence in Edinburgh at a level typical of any major city. They may be summoned in an emergency by dialling 999, or 101 in non-emergencies. In the event of a medical emergency, travellers may visit the Accident and Emergency department of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, the city’s main hospital. Ambulances may be reached at 999.

One helpful resource to know about if you feel unwell, drunk or disoriented is the SafeZone Bus service. Operated by volunteers, it is in service on Fridays and Saturdays from 22:00 to 04:00 and offers free transportation home and first-aid services. Buses can be found at Cathedral Lane opposite the Omni Centre in Old Town. Bus staff may be contacted at 0771 425 9609.

edinburgh_6

Enjoy your trip!

Edinburgh is a whimsical city that combines a medieval feel with a contemporary way of life. The captivating city is easily walkable, and visitors can experience century old architecture and castles with modern museums, shopping, and galleries. Soak up the charming Scottish culture and food, while practising common sense and looking both ways!

 

Content provided by Travel Navigator™.

 

Check our blog for more city spotlight articles!

Safety Precautions for Canadian Travellers to Turkey

The recent coup attempt in Turkey, and the government’s massive retaliation, must be taken seriously by any Canadians planning to visit family or friends in that country.(According to the 2011 census, there were then almost 55,500 Canadian residents who claimed full or partial Turkish descent, and certainly a lot more today.)

In the wake of the botched uprising, the Government of Canada has warned its citizens to “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” to Turkey as a whole, or to “Avoid All Travel” to its border region with Syria—specifically within 10 km of said border.

These warnings are not just formalities. They can have serious consequences for you if you ignore them and then run into any problems or even misunderstandings while in that country.

Following is what the advisories mean:

 

Avoid non-essential travel

There are specific safety and security concerns that could put you at risk. You should reconsider your need to travel to the country, territory or region. If you are already in the country, territory or region, you should reconsider whether or not you really need to be there. If not, you should consider leaving while it is still safe to do so. It is up to you to decide what “non-essential travel” means, based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with a country, territory or region, and other factors.

 

Avoid all travel

There is an extreme risk to your personal safety and security. You should not travel to this country, territory or region. If you are already in the country, territory or region, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so.

 

Be aware that although the Canadian government can issue advisories and give you information to protect your security, its ability to help you if you get into trouble is limited.

If you choose to travel despite the warnings, make sure you at least register with the “Registration of Canadians Abroad” service at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration. This will help maintain a connection with your family and friends in case of disruption or loss of contact. You can register online, so if you are presently in Turkey, register now.

If you run into an emergency while in Turkey, you can call the Embassy of Canada in Ankara or the Canadian Consulate in Istanbul and follow their instructions. You can also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll free at 00800-14-220-0149. But the toll-free number is not available for mobile phone users in Turkey.

If you have dual citizenship with Turkey, be aware that while you are in that country, Canadian authorities may be unable or limited in their ability to help you if Turkish authorities consider you a Turkish citizen. For example, if you are of suitable age, you may be required to do military service. And if you have other obligations current in Turkey, local authorities will have primacy in dealing with you.

Also, since the recent government crackdown and the re-assertion of Islamic practices, be particularly sensitive to the rules of behaviour.

As the Canadian government advisories emphasize:

Use of drugs is absolutely forbidden; heavy fines and jail terms can be expected.

Drinking and driving is a zero tolerance activity that is punished on the spot.

It is illegal to desecrate the Turkish flag or to insult the name or image of its historical founders. We can also suggest you be careful about making any derogatory remarks about the current authorities. Canadian-style freedom of speech is not fashionable in Turkey.

Be careful not to photograph military or public institutions, public demonstrations, or members of the police or security forces. Do not photograph people without their permission.

Though homosexual activity is not illegal, intolerance is high in some parts of the country. Avoid physical contact such as handholding in public, for either or both sexes.

Always dress conservatively, especially in non-urban areas and coastal resorts. Women should cover their heads and avoid showing bare arms and legs.

In case you need medical services, understand that cash payment will likely be required, unless you have internationally valid travel health insurance. And if you plan on being in Turkey for an extended period, such as a year, you will be required to register for Universal Health Coverage under Turkish social security.

If you are visiting for a shorter period, you will be expected to show proof of valid health insurance that’s substantial enough to cover any bills you may generate. Your provincial health insurance won’t do it.

Take all your travel insurance documents with you—a toll-free number or name of insurer won’t be accepted by border officials, hospital, or clinic personnel. And if cash is demanded, aside from the local currency (the lira—TRY), U.S. dollars, euros, and major credit cards are widely accepted. Leave the loonie at home.

As for your travel insurance, be aware that if you are in an area already designated by the Canadian government as an “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” or “Avoid All Travel” zone, your travel insurance benefits may be sharply limited or voided altogether. Make sure you ask your travel insurance professional to explain these limitations to you when you buy your coverage. And if travelling anywhere to Europe, Asia, or beyond, it is always safest to first review and then purchase your policy from an agent or company that specializes in international travel insurance. Don’t take shortcuts.

The bottom line is that government advisories are based on ground-level decisions aimed at protecting you when you travel. They are to be taken seriously. There is only so much your government can do once you fall under the authority of another country’s laws and practices.

The responsibility to cede that authority is yours.

 

For more on travel advisories, read our articles here.

Brexit Impacts on Canadian Travellers

Britain’s break-up with the European Union (EU) continues to make headlines around the globe, and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. The initial shock waves destabilized markets and foreign currencies, even causing some travellers to question their future vacation plans. The United Kingdom is the second-most-favoured international destination for Canadians, so many are wondering what the short- and long-term effects will be on trips to Britain and the rest of the EU.

Here are a few different ways Brexit might affect your next trip across the Atlantic…

 

Unsteady foreign currencies

After the referendum, the British pound took quite a tumble, reaching its lowest level in thirty years. Compared to the Canadian dollar, the pound lost 6.5% of its value, and the euro dropped over 3%. This sharp decline makes the United Kingdom much cheaper for Canadian travellers. As foreign currencies continue to react to the news, it is unclear when and where they will stabilize. For the time being, though, travelling to the UK is a great deal for Canadians compared to recent years. If you’re unsure whether the loonie will maintain its value against the pound and you are travelling to the UK soon, monitor the exchange rate and buy pounds in advance to guarantee a good rate.

 

The potential rise in airfare costs

Even though travel inside the United Kingdom is cheaper due to the wavering pound, the cost of airfare may increase considerably across Europe and Britain. British airline stocks tanked after Brexit, with some dropping more than 20%. The reason for the potential hike in prices: the European Union Open Skies Agreement will have to be reviewed. The agreement allows airlines to operate seamlessly across member states, but now airlines may have to apply to operate in Britain and the EU, costing serious time and money.

British airlines will also have to renegotiate access to European Union airports, and the EU will likely demand a high cost, which will almost certainly be transferred to passengers via higher airfares. Canadian travellers may not immediately see a rise in ticket prices, but there will likely be increases, especially for Europe’s well known budget airlines. Furthermore, the UK is a hub for trans-Atlantic flights, which also will directly affect North American travellers, depending on how the agreement pans out.

 

Longer waits at borders

Border control in British airports may become major headache for international travellers. All EU passengers currently stream through their own quick line at customs, and Canadian travellers are grouped with all other international travellers splitting the lines quite nicely. However, Brexit may force all EU passengers to now queue with the rest of the world at border control, creating a major pain and vastly increasing wait times for international passengers, including Canadian travellers. Until both sides reach a deal, uncertainty over changes will persist.

 

Increased vigilance and security

The threat of terrorism has grown across Europe since the Paris and Brussels attacks, and many governments advise a higher level of caution for travellers this summer. With Britain now leaving the European Union, political uncertainties add to the tense security situation in Europe. Canadian travellers are encouraged to heed travel advisories and stay vigilant across Europe this summer. Monitor local news and travel alerts, and practice good personal security for future European destination trips.

 

Travel insurance

There are a host of questions surrounding Brexit and how it will directly impact travellers. However, travel insurance can eliminate many concerns and fears that surround such uncertainty. Always have travel insurance prior to your trips—and make sure you understand the coverage. The protection will ease your worries and create a more relaxing and adventurous vacation across the pond.

 

For current global travel alerts, follow Government of Canada travel advice and advisories. To keep up to date with the European Union referendum, click here.

France Struck Yet Again

The month-long UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament held throughout France was labelled as a major event with a high threat level. Increased security presence was felt at the venues, and the public was kept safe for the most part, with the exception of some incidents with so-called hooligans.

Tragically, though, just days after the tournament ended, an attack was carried out during the heart of French National Day celebrations. Bastille Day, or La Fête nationale, is a holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Bastille Day marks the beginning of republican democracy in France, and carries with it great significance and symbolism to the French culture that has now been tragically tainted.

The Bastille Day attack is the worst attack since the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Around 30,000 people were gathered in Nice, France’s second-most-popular tourist destination, to celebrate and watch the fireworks over the Mediterranean Sea on the beach and the famous Promenade des Anglais, which was cordoned off as a pedestrian zone. Shortly after 22:30 local time, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, of Franco-Tunisian origin, breached security barriers in his large white truck and began zigzagging down the Promenade des Anglais for up to two kilometres (1.25 miles). The attacker had a pistol and a larger gun in addition to numerous fake grenades and weapons. He began firing at police as they were attempting to stop him, before he was ultimately shot dead.

One day after the event, 84 people are dead, and approximately 50 others remain in the hospital with life-or-death injuries, so the death toll will likely rise. Currently, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and officials are unsure if the perpetrator acted alone. However, Islamic State (IS or ISIS) and Al Qaeda have both released global calls for their supporters to use vehicles as deadly weapons. Bouhlel was known to police as a career criminal, to neighbours as a loner, and was estranged by his wife. French authorities’ new mobile app—designed to send immediate alerts in the event of an attack—has been criticized, since the alert was delayed for 3 hours.

France will now extend its national state of emergency, due to end on July 26, for an additional three months. For individuals thinking about travelling to France, we urge you to keep it on your list. Although there have been a number of attacks on French soil over the past year-and-a-half, the chances of witnessing an event like this are exceedingly rare. One of the best steps you can take is to educate yourself before you travel. There are many publicly available resources and government websites that contain up-to-date country information to help mitigate your exposure to various risks, including everything from car accidents to terror attacks. Understanding what do in the extremely unlikely event you are caught in an attack is crucial in order to save your life and others’.

Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport is currently open and operating according to schedule, although there was a brief closure earlier on July 15 day due to a suspicious package. If you wish to cancel upcoming travel to France, we recommend you contact your travel agency and/or travel insurance provider to determine what options are available to you.

 

For more travel advice and warnings, see our recent article entitled Summer Travel Warnings for Europe.

Contemplating Medical Tourism? Weigh Your Options Wisely

Travelling abroad to receive faster, cheaper treatment seems to be a growing trend in Canada. Approximately twenty medical tourism companies are currently operating across the country, most providing options for elective surgeries, such as knee or hip replacements, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery, or transplants. But what makes people consider getting care abroad? They may wish to bypass long wait times, save money for elective surgeries that would not be covered by provincial health care, or even access new treatments that are not yet offered in Canada. Whatever the reason, or no matter how great the benefits, Canadians must understand the importance of doing their research and making an informed decision before considering health care abroad!

 

Who would be providing your care?

Canadian health providers are well aware of the consequences they face if they harm a patient, practise beyond the scope of their knowledge, or are negligent. They are accountable to both their College of Physicians and Surgeons and their hospital board, and possibly even the courts. As a result, Canadian doctors are strongly motivated to practise sound, evidenced-based medicine, and patients can be compensated for any type of malpractice-related injuries.

Doctors, medical staff, and hospitals in other countries are certainly subject to regulations and legal accountability; however, navigating a foreign health care or legal system can be difficult and costly for non-citizens. Without an intimate knowledge of the culture, it is difficult to know just how effectively another country’s regulatory system polices the behaviour of its health professionals. In Canada, the medical profession is highly supervised, and medical professionals undergo peer review. Canadians can file a complaint and seek recourse if they’ve received inadequate medical care. However, in another country, this process may be non-existent, poorly organized, or hard to access as a tourist. Also, in the event that you need to take legal action, you will likely be required to travel back and forth to appear in court. Keep in mind that court rewards for medical malpractice in a foreign country may be a small fraction of what you would expect to receive in Canada.

 

What type of health care facility should you expect?

Although hospital standards will vary greatly from one country to the next, it is important to note that your experience may be very different from what you are used to here in Canada.

Provincial legislation and various non-governmental associations hold Canadian hospitals to high standards of organization, cleanliness, infection control, and safety. And while they are certainly not perfect, hospitals in Canada enjoy a strong reputation for quality around the world. Canadian hospitals are also required to accurately and regularly report on the health outcomes they achieve.

In certain countries, care facilities may not be accountable for their health outcomes, and in some cases reporting practices for these outcomes may not be readily accessible or available at all. The Joint Commission is an American accreditation agency that has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish standards of patient safety in hospitals internationally. It is critical that you check any overseas hospital for accreditation by The Joint Commission if you are considering health care abroad.

 

Who will arrange your care abroad?

Patients who travel for treatment often do not enlist the help and support of their family doctor for several reasons. They may be concerned about what their doctor might think, or they might assume that Canadian doctors are not well versed in foreign treatment practices. As a result, medical tourism brokers or facilitators often arrange for overseas treatment. Keep in mind that these individuals may not be medical professionals and may have a financial interest in your decision to go forward with the treatment. For this reason, it may be very difficult to obtain unbiased information on the specific facility where your procedure is to take place. Additionally, it is unlikely that they will have any detailed knowledge regarding your current health concern or your health history, a fact that can significantly affect both your choice of treatment and your road to recovery.

If you receive care in another country, remember that you may not be speaking in your native language. An inability to communicate with a caregiver could be scary or frustrating at best, or life-threatening at worst. Most medical tourism companies offer translation services, but you will want to feel confident that you can access them anytime you need them—day or night.

 

Who will follow up on your care?

If you have surgery in Canada, your surgeon will normally see you for at least one follow-up visit to ensure you are recovering as expected. Support staff (e.g., nurses) will also be present to assess your recovery, risk of infection, and general well-being immediately after your surgery as well as over the following days and weeks. Depending on your medical concern, there may be an entire host of tests, therapies, and follow-up visits that you should participate in. If you suffer complications from your surgery, your surgeon will once again get involved in your treatment, especially if further surgery is needed.

If you choose to have surgery overseas, there may be little or no further contact with the surgeon who performed your procedure. In addition, you will be relying on the foreign medical staff or the medical tourism company to provide your Canadian doctor with the medical records from your overseas treatment as well as any recommendations for post-operative care. Your doctor at home may come across translation issues or missing information that you will need to retrieve in order to ensure the follow-up care you receive is appropriate. Also, if you do require further care from a domestic surgeon, there is an increased possibility that medical data and/or health recommendations could be missed because you have not received continual care throughout the course of your treatment. If your doctor is unfamiliar with the treatment you received or does not obtain any follow-up documentation, it can affect their ability to properly monitor your recovery in Canada, which, in turn, can have an impact on your future health.

Also, in the event that something goes wrong during your surgery abroad and you require emergency medical treatment back home, getting to Canada could prove both costly and complicated. For example, air evacuation services can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $150,000 (or more), and the hospital in Canada could deny you admission depending on the availability of beds.

With all of these unknowns, you may wonder why anyone would opt for surgery abroad. However, for some people, the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

What’s the bottom line?

If you are considering medical tourism, make sure to do your research to find out as much as you can about your options. Be sure to do the following:

 

Talk to your Canadian doctor first. Consult your physician to discuss your options and get their opinion. Does your doctor think you are well enough to travel? Is your condition serious? Can you wait for treatment in Canada without your health being negatively affected? How are you managing your health while you wait? Have you visited another health professional for a second opinion? Perhaps in your case surgery is not the best option. Another doctor may know of alternative treatments that they could recommend to you.

Very often, you will need your doctor to provide your medical file to the physicians abroad. If you decide to undergo treatment overseas, your current medical specialist and/or family physician should speak one-on-one with the overseas provider. Be cautious of foreign doctors who will not comply.

 

Consider the costs. In rare cases, you may be able to get partial reimbursement for your treatment if it is a medically necessary service unavailable in your province or elsewhere in Canada. Note that your provincial ministry of health will need to agree to cover the treatment beforehand. If this is the case, you will likely have to pay up front and then seek repayment after your treatment. You should work with provincial authorities (you can likely do so through your specialist) at home prior to leaving the country to determine if your situation qualifies and how much will be reimbursed. Each medical concern is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so contact your ministry or department of health to learn more (see Ontario’s Out of Country Services or Manitoba’s Out-of-Province Medical Referrals for examples).

Some overseas medical companies offer financing programs. Read all contracts carefully before signing and, if in doubt, consult a lawyer to review the terms of the contract.

 

Research, research, and research some more! Not sure where to start? Find the answer to the following questions before you make a final decision:

  • Who will be providing treatment? What are their credentials? Find out as much as you can about the doctor who will be performing the surgery.
  • How is the medical procedure performed? Have your doctor review the details too.
  • What is the facility itself like? Consider facilities where this procedure is frequently performed, and strongly consider only those with official, documented clinical effectiveness, such as published materials that your Canadian physician can review. It may be helpful to look for credible foreign facilities with existing international patient programs.
  • How will your care be documented? Find out what information will be included, and if it will be sent to your Canadian physician securely and in a timely manner.
  • What type of facility will you be staying at for your follow-up care?
  • What is the risk of complication? How and by whom will complications be handled?
  • What are the timeframes for treatment and follow-up care? Find out when it is safe for travel (flying is not advised after certain treatments).
  • What is the country itself like? Is it safe? What will you need before travelling? Are there any medical reasons why you should not travel? Will you need a medical visa, vaccinations, or any other preparation?

The more you know, the better you can assess whether medical tourism is the right option for you. Enlist the help of your care team; your Canadian health care providers can be your allies throughout the process. Above all, make sure that your decision to undergo surgery abroad is an informed one—and the right one for you.

 

Key Websites

Related Articles

For more travel health information, click here.

Staying Safe at Rio 2016

The 2016 Summer Olympics are being held from August 5 to 21, and the Paralympic Games from September 7 to 18. The games are based out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although some soccer events are taking place around the country, including in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, and the Amazon city of Manaus. There are 37 venues in total and 306 events, with the country expecting over 600,000 fans to travel from all over the globe to attend. If you are travelling to Brazil this summer for the Olympics, there are a variety of health, safety, and security tips to consider to ensure a successful trip.

 

Trip preparation

Seek travel health advice at least four to six weeks in advance. Brazil has a variety of tropical diseases in different areas in country, including malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever, and, most recently, Zika.

The Zika outbreak has been an international concern for visitors, athletes, and locals alike. The bottom line: anyone who isn’t pregnant or planning to become pregnant should still go to Rio, since transmission rates during August and September are extremely low. However, still be meticulous about avoiding mosquito bites at all times of day by using repellent with at least 50% DEET.

  • Prepare a travel health kit that includes essentials like insect repellent, prescriptions, basic first aid items, sun screen, antidiarrheal medication, and pain medication
  • Make sure you have all necessary visas, travel documents, and a passport for entry into Brazil
  • Leave copies with a relative or friend for safekeeping before departure
  • Take note of your bank’s phone numbers, and be sure to have online access to monitor your account during your trip in the event your card is stolen or skimmed

Security measures to expect

The crime rates in Brazil are notoriously high, which has caused great concern over the safety and security of the Olympics. The political and economic instability of the country has also compounded the issue, with high risks of large-scale disruptive protests. However, authorities are assuring travellers that security for the Olympics will be extremely tight at all venues. Visitors should expect airport-style security checks and two- or three-tier security cordons surrounding the infrastructure. Approximately 85,000 security personnel will safeguard venues, athletes, Olympic villages, and fans. Due to these measures, expect serious congestion and delays at venues. Carry identification and expect random stops and checks by security guards.

 

Safety tips

In addition to the security measures taken by Brazilian officials, you can take numerous personal security precautions that will also help you stay safe and healthy throughout their trip:

  • Keep a low profile to avoid being a target of crime, and never display wealth
  • Stay vigilant: pickpocketing and mugging are commonplace and are the main threat to foreigners, especially on beaches, busy sidewalks, and public transportation and at tourist sites and intersections
  • Never resist criminals if you are being mugged
  • React with force to avoid danger if you are being pushed in large crowds or public transportation
  • Express kidnapping is a threat to travellers, especially those with perceived wealth
  • Avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent
  • Leave your passport in a safe at your hotel or accommodation (carry a photocopy)
  • Always keep doors locked and valuables secure
  • Avoid night travel, and do not take public transportation at night (call a taxi)
  • Never walk alone, and travel with a companion
  • Plan your travel route to avoid dangerous areas of the city, and monitor local media
  • Use official bank ATMs inside buildings, banks, or shopping centres for security reasons, and avoid carrying large sums of cash
  • Register with your embassy or diplomatic office upon arrival
  • Stay hydrated and use sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Exercise caution when eating or drinking (bottled water and thoroughly cooked food)

Have an emergency plan

In the event of an emergency, it is crucial to have a plan. When registering with your embassy, note their emergency phone numbers. The national emergency number in Brazil is 190, and if you don’t speak Portuguese then speak slowly in English. The Rio tourist police specialize in helping provide information and assistance to visitors in the city, and they can be easily contacted or approached. Their headquarters are in Leblon, and they can be reached at (+55)2332-2924. Additionally, make plans with your travel companions in the event of separation or an emergency. Have meeting points and organize ways to communicate because mobile service is expected to be limited near extremely crowded Olympic venues.

 

For more travel alerts, read here.

Europe Travel Alert: World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland

The United States has issued a Europe Travel Alert lasting until August 31, 2016, warning travellers of the large number of tourists visiting Europe this summer and associated risks. Specifically, the surge in visitors presents a greater concern for potential terrorist attacks due to the number of large events. And although the alert covers Americans, Canadians are urged to heed the same advice and follow travel advisories if they are heading to Europe this summer.

One major event the travel alert mentions is the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, which is taking place in Krakow, Poland, from July 26 to July 31. The event is expected to draw upwards of 2.5 million visitors between the ages of 16 and 35 to the Polish city. The Polish Prime Minister’s Office has said there are no signs of increased terrorist activity in the country and reassured travellers that security will be stringent. The safety and security of participants will be provided by almost 25,000 army, security, and emergency personnel in Krakow.

 

What to expect if you are travelling to Poland

Bring your passport and necessary visas. If you are from a Schengen area country, you are likely aware that you don’t need your passport to travel between member states such as Poland. However, Poland is imposing border controls at all national borders and stricter security measures from July 4 until August 2. The time frame covers the Warsaw NATO Summit, scheduled for July 8–9, as well as World Youth Day. As a result of these additional measures, even citizens of Schengen area countries must present their passports at Polish borders. All visitors to the country are therefore required to carry their passport regardless of the Schengen agreement.

In addition to these temporary border controls, Poland’s facilities and infrastructure will be strained to handle the huge crowds expected at World Youth Day. It is wise to plan for longer commutes since public transportation, streets, and venues will be extremely crowded. Lines for food and water at local cafes will likely be never-ending, so prepare by packing water beforehand—Poland can be hot and humid in the summer.

Areas in and around Błonia Park in central Krakow and Campus Misericordiae (600-acre meadow called “Field of Mercy”) on the border of Krakow and Wieliczka are the two main locations for gatherings during World Youth Day. There are no health care facilities near Campus Misericordiae, but the Polish Army will be setting up a field hospital and medical tents along with appropriate medical transportation in the event of an emergency.

 

Maintain solid personal security practices

Previous World Youth Days have generally been peaceful and successful events. However, massive crowds and open air public events always require a few extra security precautions:

  • Remain vigilant when using public transportation and secure your belongings at all times
  • Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense
  • Always follow the instructions of Polish authorities, particularly in the event of an emergency
  • Stay in touch with friends and family and have a plan in place the event of separation or emergencies
  • Keep your embassy’s contact information handy as well as Polish emergency numbers (dial 112 anywhere in Europe for emergency assistance)
  • Learn a few Polish “survival” phrases—they will make you a better traveller and likely be useful in emergency situations

Don’t be intimidated

The advice and travel warnings are routine in nature because any large gathering would pose a potential threat. However, Polish authorities are reminding visitors that the travel alert did not arise from any specific intelligence on planned terrorist attacks in Poland. One bishop from the World Youth Day organizing committee reminded journalists that the young adult visitors during the gathering will demonstrate faith, joy, and happiness first and foremost and shouldn’t be intimidated by stricter security or travel alerts.

 

For more information on travel alerts, please click here.

UEFA Euro 2016: Europe Travel Alert

The United States has issued a Europe Travel Alert over the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe targeting tourist sites, major events, transportation, restaurants, and commercial centres. The alert focuses on the Euro 2016 soccer championship being held in France from June 10 to July 10 as a major event with a high threat level. France has issued a state of emergency until July 26, as the matches are expected to draw several million fans from across the continent and the globe. In the wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks that shook Europe, French security has taken major steps to mitigate any risk of further terrorist attacks during the third-largest sporting event in the world.

 

Stade de France

The Stade de France was one of the targets in the Paris terrorist attacks last November, where three suicide bombers attempted to reach the interior of the stadium during the Germany–France match. However, the robust security and well trained staff denied entry to the bombers, preventing what could have been a massacre. The Stade de France and the rest of the stadiums and fan zones across the country will now go above and beyond their already strong security precautions in attempt to eliminate any potential threats.

France is deploying nearly 100,000 security forces to safeguard the 51 games and 10 venues across the country. The security forces will protect the tournament, match venues, fan zones, and any other areas where fans may congregate. Furthermore, all the bases of the 24 competing countries and stadiums where matches will take place have been declared no-fly zones.

 

Extensive security measures

In addition to the vast number of boots on the ground, the physical security measures in place at the events are sweeping. Stadiums have security cordons at their perimeter and security screening checkpoints at the entrances. Even the fan zones will have security standards equivalent to the stadiums, since some zones will attract upwards of 90,000 people in one location. Security checks will be similar to those used in French airports and include bag scanners, metal detectors, and pat-downs, if necessary. The stadiums will have thousands of police and private security guards in operation. Moreover, in every match location a command centre will be set up to centralize the security operation by connecting emergency personnel and police. These locations will also have riot squads, police snipers, and armoured vehicles.

 

New tools

French authorities have also introduced new technology to bolster their already vast security efforts. For example, authorities are using new equipment designed to take control of and divert suspicious drones around venues rather than destroying them. Additionally, France has launched a new app called SAIP (système d’alerte et d’information des populations), which alerts users immediately if there is an attack or suspicion of an attack in eight different geographical locations; it also sends emergency instructions within fifteen minutes of an event to the user. A SAIP spokesperson responded to the public’s growing concern for safety, saying that France must not overestimate the threat of terrorism, but, above all, the country must be vigilant.

 

Security precautions to bear in mind

The French security operations are clearly vigorous and exhaustive, yet travel alerts and advisories are still on the minds of fans and travellers. If you are travelling to France during Euro 2016, it is important to keep in mind the following security precautions on top of the safety measures French authorities have implemented.

  • Stay aware of your surroundings and try to avoid overly crowded areas if possible
  • Be extremely vigilant when travelling on public transportation or in public places
  • Monitor local media and use any updates or news to plan your travel and activities accordingly
  • Leave extra time for additional security screening and any other disruptions during Euro 2016. In the event of an emergency, follow the instructions of local authorities and have a prepared emergency plan with friends or family, such as how to reach each other if separated or how to get in touch
  • Use common sense and be an informed traveller, so that in the event of an emergency you will be prepared and safe

Euro 2016 security update: June 14, 2016

After the first weekend of matches in France, security concerns continue to grow. The Russia–England game in Marseille caused major headaches for French authorities. Before the match, police used tear gas on both groups of fans to try and deter violence. However, during the game, Russian fans shot flares before the final whistle in the Stade Velodrome. They managed to smuggle in smoke bombs, flares, and fireworks, raising questions on the level of security at the perimeter check-points of the stadium. After the game, Russian fans stormed the English section inside of the stadium and began hurling objects and punching and kicking the opposing team supporters. English fans fled to exits in a panic, causing a dangerous stampede in the 67,000-person arena.

Overall, 31 people were injured on Saturday. Police ordered bars and restaurants to shut once the game ended, and alcohol was banned near venues and was not sold in stadiums in an attempt to curtail clashes. The violence in Marseille was described as the worst football violence in years, which is causing trouble for the over-stretched French police, who very clearly have other issues to worry about.

There are evidently gaps in security for the tournament, and England has offered to send more police for the country’s next game in Lens, France. European soccer body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Russia’s soccer association after the violence. Additionally, England and Russia could be expelled from the games if fan violence continues. Beyond the England–Russia match, Nice experienced brief violence on Saturday when Northern Irish and local fans threw glass bottles at each other. Additionally, before the Turkey and Croatia game in Paris, 15 people were arrested in scuffles. French authorities have also prevented 3,000 fans from entering the country based on lists of hooligans provided by foreign countries. Authorities have focused heavily on eliminating terrorist threats, but they definitely need to improve their approach to hooligans and fan clashes in the coming weeks of high profile games.

The Aedes Mosquito: Carrier of More Than Just Zika

 

Short read: Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

 

Introduction

As Zika continues to spread, doctors and scientists have officially concluded that a causal relationship exists between pregnant women infected with Zika and microcephaly appearing in newborns (in addition to other brain anomalies).[1] Belize, Saint Lucia, and Vietnam are the latest countries to experience their first locally acquired cases. Meanwhile, Panama has recently announced its first case of microcephaly potentially linked to Zika, and Brazil is continuing to experience large-scale transmission of the virus, with a significant increase in cases of newborns suffering from microcephaly. And Colombia is experiencing an uptick in Zika cases, with the rainy season (i.e., more mosquitoes) just around the corner.

 

Spread of Zika

chart

Image source: WHO

 

But Zika is not the only mosquito-borne virus of global concern. In this article, we trace the epidemiology (spread) of two similar arboviruses—dengue, and chikungunya—and the mosquitoes that primarily transmit them. This overview excludes other mosquito-borne conditions like malaria (214 million cases worldwide in 2015) and yellow fever (estimated 30,000 deaths every year). However, understanding where Zika comes from, which mosquitoes carry the virus, and how it is similar to (and different from) other arboviruses can help you recognize the health implications for your own situation as well as those for societies located in areas affected by these viruses.

 

Zika: What is it, and what’s the big deal?

Zika is an arbovirus, which is a class of viruses transmitted via arthropods (the prefix “arbo” is short for arthropod-borne). Arthropods are a family of invertebrates that include ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, and crustaceans. Not all arthropods can act as competent vectors (carriers) for Zika, however. In the case of Zika, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which inhabits tropical and subtropical climates, is the primary vector of the disease at this point in time (more on this later). People become infected with Zika when they are bitten by a mosquito that is carrying the virus. Other potential methods of transmission exist, e.g., sexual intercourse, but mosquito bites by infected insects are by far the most common method of transmission.

The symptoms of Zika are mild, if they appear at all. In fact, roughly 80% of individuals infected with Zika virus do not notice any symptoms. And those who do develop symptoms typically experience only mild ones like fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle and joint pain, and general malaise. However, the medical community has now definitively determined a causal relationship between Zika and microcephaly (as well as other brain anomalies) in offspring. The medical community is concerned that Zika may also be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Brazil’s recent explosion in Zika cases and reported cases of microcephaly has led a number of governments to issue travel warnings advising pregnant women to refrain from travelling to areas experiencing Zika outbreaks. In addition, there is growing concern and evidence that Zika may cause other spinal, brain, and fetal disorders in addition to GBS and microcephaly.

 

Are there other viruses like Zika?

Zika is only one member of the arbovirus family. There are a number of other viruses that belong to the same family, as well as a number of other conditions that are similar but not classified as arboviruses. Dengue virus is the most common arbovirus worldwide, with an estimated 40% of the world’s population living in areas with dengue transmission.[2] The symptoms of dengue are similar to those of Zika, but much more severe. Roughly 1 in 10 cases of severe dengue causes death (equating to roughly 1 in 2,000 total cases of dengue).[3]

Chikungunya virus is another common arbovirus. It only began to appear in the Americas in December 2013 but has since resulted in over 1.8 million suspected cases in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.[4] Symptoms are again similar to those of dengue and Zika. Although researchers are developing treatments, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika currently cannot be prevented through the use of vaccines or prophylactic remedies. The only way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites.

There are a number of other arboviruses, some of which you may be familiar with already: yellow fever, West Nile, various types of encephalitis, and others. In addition, other mosquito-borne conditions exist that result in similar symptoms and complications but are not considered arboviruses. The most widespread of these is malaria, which is a protozoan transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. In the year 2015 alone, there were 214 million cases of malaria, and 438,000 deaths associated with the illness.[5] Nearly half the world’s population (3.2 billion people) is at risk. It is important to understand that many populations around the world, as well as travellers, are exposed to arboviruses and other similar illnesses, of which Zika is just one.

 

Primary vector – the Aedes mosquito

  Chikungunya Dengue Zika
Aedes aegypti Yes Yes Yes
Aedes albopictus Yes Rarely Potentially

 

Aedes aegypti

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, commonly called the yellow fever mosquito, enjoys tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Originating in Africa, the Aedes aegypti is thought to have migrated to the Americas hundreds of years ago following the arrival of Europeans.[6] Some experts have found that most populations of Aedes aegypti in South America are genetically similar to those in Southeast Asia, leading to a belief that the Asian and Australian Aedes aegypti populations migrated across the Pacific from the Americas.[7] [8] Aedes aegypti inhabits urban areas with or without vegetation, laying its eggs both indoors and outdoors.[9] It is a sneaky biter, with peak activity occurring around sunrise and sunset (including post-sunrise and pre-sunset).[10]

map

Image source: eLife 2015

 

Aedes albopictus

Aedes albopictus, commonly called the Asian tiger mosquito, inhabits a wider range of climates than its cousin Aedes aegypti. Aedes albopictus has shown the ability to adapt to tropical and subtropical climates, as well as cooler, drier, more temperate climates.[11] As a result, the Aedes albopictus mosquito has populations as far north as the Great Lakes in North America, and northern Italy and Slovenia in Europe. Native to East Asia, Aedes albopictus is the most invasive mosquito in the world and is now considered an invasive species on a number of continents. It arrived in the Americas much more recently than its cousin did, potentially being transported along with shipments of used tires from Asia. Aedes albopictus is mostly an outdoor mosquito associated with thickets and arboreal vegetation.[12] It is an aggressive daytime biter, with peak activity occurring around sunrise and sunset (including post-sunrise and pre-sunset).[13]

 

map 2

Image source: eLife 2015

 

Historical epidemiology

 

Dengue

minimap1 minipap 2 minipam 3
Image source: CDC Image source: CDC Image source: CDC

 

There are four strains of dengue virus: DENV1, DENV2, DENV3, and DENV4. Although the virus has likely been circulating for hundreds of years, with reports of dengue-like cases dating back to the 19th century, the virus was first isolated in Japan (1943) and then in French Polynesia (1943) and Hawaii (1944).[14] A second strain (DENV2) was first reported in Papua New Guinea (1944). At that time, global travel associated with the Second World War is believed to have been a primary factor in the transmission of the virus across regions. Epidemics began to occur from India to the Philippines.

Moving into the second half of the 20th century, the transmission pattern of dengue closely followed that of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, with migration across oceans likely occurring as a result of increased urbanization and international movement of people and goods. A large-scale Aedes aegypti eradication program was undertaken in the Americas in the 1960s into the early 1970s, which effectively reduced populations of the mosquito as well as associated dengue epidemics.[15] However, the collapse of the eradication campaign in the 1970s led to a rapid return of both Aedes aegypti and dengue.

Dengue is now endemic to many parts of the tropics and subtropics. Consequently, it occurs every year, typically during a season when Aedes aegypti mosquito populations are high, like wet seasons. Most cases of dengue are asymptomatic, but when symptoms are present, they can take the form of mild dengue fever (DF) or more severe forms called dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS).[16] Dengue is the most common arboviral disease worldwide, with an estimated 40% of the global population living in areas with dengue transmission. The World Health Organization estimates that 50–100 million infections occur every year, 500,000 of which are the severe DHF, and 22,000 of which lead to fatality (mostly in children).[17]

 

Chikungunya

chikungunya map 1 chickungunya map 2
Image source: CDC      Image Source: PAHO

 

 

Chikungunya virus was first detected in an epidemic along the border of Mozambique and Tanzania (1952–1953). An outbreak in Bangkok in 1958 was the first known incidence of chikungunya in Asia. Outbreaks continued to spread in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Indonesia up until the mid-1980s, when there was a decrease in chikungunya outbreaks.

The virus re-emerged at the turn of the century. It appeared in Malaysia (1998–1999), produced a large outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1999–2000), and emerged in Kenya (2004). From Kenya, the virus quickly spread eastward in the mid-2000s, appearing on western Indian Ocean islands and then in India, Thailand, and Indonesia.[18] On the western Indian Ocean island of Réunion, there was a large outbreak that affected an estimated 266,000 people (34.5% of the island’s population). The Réunion outbreak was medically significant because the chikungunya virus had genetically mutated, allowing the Aedes albopictus mosquito to act as an efficient vector (previously, the Aedes aegypti had been the primary vector of chikungunya).[19] Soon after, an epidemic struck a number of states in India that resulted in an estimated 1.25 million cases of chikungunya.

From there, chikungunya was reported in Europe for the first time, when over 200 people were infected in northeastern Italy in 2007. Outbreaks continued to occur across Southeast Asia, and the first local transmission was reported in the Americas in the French Caribbean department of St. Martin (Dec. 2013). Over the next few months, chikungunya spread to multiple Caribbean islands, with June 2014 estimates reporting that more than 165,000 people in the Americas had already been affected by local transmission of the virus in just a half a year. The virus continued to spread, with locally acquired cases occurring in France later that year.

Chikungunya is now present in many parts of the tropics, subtropics, and more temperate climates due to the ability of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus to act as efficient vectors, although the former remains the primary carrier. As with dengue, the epidemics generally occur during wet or rainy seasons, although outbreaks in Africa have occurred after droughts (with open water containers acting as breeding sites for mosquitoes).[20] Since 2005, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Thailand have seen 1.9 million cases of chikungunya.[21] Likewise, since December 2013, when the virus first appeared in the Americas, there have been over 1.8 million suspected cases in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.[22] While the virus does not often result in death (although fatalities are not uncommon), severe joint pain can last for months or years.

 

Zika

zika map 1 zika map 2
Image source: WHO Image source: WHO

 

Zika virus was first isolated in Uganda (1947) during an experiment meant to collect data on yellow fever in Rhesus monkeys. Although the virus had likely been present in African monkeys (or some other host) for a long period of time, this was the first time it had been isolated. Shortly afterwards, Zika antibodies were found to be naturally occurring in populations of humans in Uganda and Tanzania (1952), and the virus was isolated in a human for the first time in Nigeria (1954).[23] From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Zika expanded in geographical distribution, migrating to equatorial Asia, including Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. However, there were no documented outbreaks of the disease until 2007.

An outbreak of Zika on Yap Island in the Southwestern Pacific (2007) brought the virus back to the attention of the international medical community. The outbreak had resulted in an estimated 73% of the island’s population over three years of age being infected with Zika.[24] A few years later, a number of other Pacific islands experienced outbreaks. French Polynesia saw a large outbreak (2013), with 28,000 people (11% of the population) estimated to have been sent into medical care. Zika was first detected in the Americas a year later (2014), and Brazil experienced an outbreak in the northeastern region of the country beginning in March 2015. This represented the first time the virus had been reported on the South American mainland.

As of April 2016, Zika virus was present in 35 countries in the Americas, 17 territories in Oceania/the Pacific Islands, and Cabo Verde in Africa, with Belize, Saint Lucia, and Vietnam being the most recent additions to the list of countries with locally acquired cases. Brazil has estimated that there have been as many as 1.5 million cases within its borders already, while Colombia is the second-most-affected country, with 64,839 confirmed and suspected cases as of early April 2016.[25] Colombia’s rainy season will begin soon, and the mosquito population will explode. In other words, the number of Zika cases in the country will likely skyrocket. The Colombian government fears the country will see over 600,000 cases by the end of the year. The World Health Organization has warned that Zika may spread through the Americas, with the only exceptions being Canada and Chile, officially calling the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This puts it in the same class as swine flu, polio, and Ebola over the past several years.

 

Conclusion

Zika is a global health issue. It is already spreading around the world, affecting large numbers of people and following patterns of spread similar to those of other arboviruses. If the Aedes albopictus mosquito is found to be a competent vector of Zika, which some medical professionals suspect is likely, then the virus may also spread further into more temperate climates.[26] Fortunately, roughly 80% of Zika cases are symptom-free. The danger lies with the consequences for pregnant women living in or travelling to affected areas. Pregnant women infected with Zika, even if they do not have any symptoms, are at an increased risk of having children with microcephaly or other disorders. With such large numbers of cases occurring, the result could be a generational burden on society in areas that are heavily affected by Zika, particularly where social institutions are nonexistent or are ill equipped to deal with these types of situations.

Dengue and chikungunya, which can cause long-term health complications and even death, are already present in many areas of the world. Forty per cent of the world’s population live in areas with dengue transmission, with between 20,000 and 25,000 fatalities occurring every year, primarily in children. Millions of people have been infected with chikungunya over the past several years, and the virus has only recently arrived in the Americas. Malaria, transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, is prevalent in areas where 3.2 billion people live, causing 214 million cases and 438,000 deaths in 2015 alone.

Zika is a global health concern, even more so now that it has been causally linked to microcephaly and other serious disorders. But there are other similar viruses and afflictions that have already affected millions, even hundreds of millions, of people. The importance of being adequately informed cannot be stressed enough, particularly since currently there are no vaccines or prophylactic treatments for these viruses.

On a societal level, preventing the transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses can include releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild or informing populations about the need to reduce local mosquito breeding sites and to practise personal prevention measures. On a personal level, you can protect yourself from mosquitoes by using insect repellent containing DEET (safe to use if pregnant), wearing light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants, using mosquito netting, and staying in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.

We urge you to stay informed, whether for your own health, your loved ones’ wellbeing, your employees’ safety, or a general global human interest. There are reliable resources that outline which health conditions are prevalent in every country and territory around the world. Staying up to date with factual information about your own country of residence, neighbouring countries, and areas you plan on visiting is a simple and effective way to empower yourself and mitigate the risk of contracting illnesses.

 

Further reading

Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

Zika “Emergency” in Florida–What Does It Mean for Canadians?

Travel Warning: Zika Virus Invades the Americas

The Zika Virus Advances: Part 2

Chikungunya Virus Outbreak: What Travellers Need to Know

Notes

[1] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1604338?query=featured_zika

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

[3] http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

[4] http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_topics&view=readall&cid=5927&Itemid=40931&lang=en

[5] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

[6] http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0074-02762013000900011

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16181519

[8] http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0074-02762013000900011

[9] http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/resources/30Jan2012/comparisondenguevectors.pdf

[10] http://oecologiaaustralis.org/ojs/index.php/oa/article/viewFile/oeco.2010.1403.09/444

[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2212601/

[12] http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/resources/30Jan2012/comparisondenguevectors.pdf

[13] http://oecologiaaustralis.org/ojs/index.php/oa/article/viewFile/oeco.2010.1403.09/444

[14] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946041/

[15] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946041/

[16] http://www.ajtmh.org/content/87/4/584.full.pdf

[17] http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/epidemiology/

[18] http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/6/942.full

[19] http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/6/942.full

[20] http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/chikungunya

[21] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs327/en/

[22] http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_topics&view=readall&cid=5927&Itemid=40931&lang=en

[23] http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171082/en/

[24] http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171082/en/

[25] http://www.ins.gov.co/boletin-epidemiologico/Paginas/default.aspx

[26] http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/zika-mosquito-brazil-1.3489572

Post-Brussels Travel: Protect your Investment

First Paris, then Brussels. What now for your travel plans to Europe this summer? It’s only reasonable you should be nervous about laying down thousands of dollars in deposits and other advance fees if by June, July, or August you change your mind and decide you no longer want to go.

I’m not suggesting you should or shouldn’t travel—only you can make that decision, in consultation with your family and your travel partners. But I am suggesting, as strongly as I can, that you take the time now to protect your investment by buying trip cancellation/interruption travel insurance that allows you to “change your mind” later. Such products are available, but you need to talk to a travel insurance professional to ensure you understand (1) how these plans work and (2) what you need to do to make sure you are covered.

Basic trip cancellation insurance covers you for incidents where you or your travel partners become ill and unable to travel, you lose your job, you are called for jury duty, a domestic situation arises that prevents travel, your house burns down, a close family relative becomes seriously ill, or your government issues an “Avoid All Travel” or “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” to the region of your planned visit, etc. These situations are usually spelled out in the policy, and these policies are certainly worth buying as benefits on their own.

But not all trip cancellation policies cover the eventuality that another situation like the terrorist attacks in Paris or Brussels knocks you out of your comfort zone and threatens your decision to travel. You need a back-up.

Here’s what you need to do.

Buy your travel insurance at the same time you buy your trip cancellation/interruption plan and reserve your airline tickets, hotel reservations, special tours, etc. That stands for whether your buy your basic plan or a plan that includes the “change of mind” option. Most plans require twinned purchases, or purchases made within hours or days of each other. Remember, the point here is protection.

If you purchase your trip May 1, and your insurance the day before you depart on July 15, you will lose 76 days of protection. If some catastrophe happens in the meantime, it’s a little late to change your mind. Then, you may have to count on the good graces of your airline, foreign tour operator, or hotel chain to “forgive” your cancellation penalties. They may give you consideration if a disruption happens at their location or on their route, but not on the sole anticipation of your being nervous about something that “might” happen.

If you have the basic trip cancellation and your government raises the travel warning signals, you may still be covered for any non-refundable deposits or advance payments you have made (up to certain limits, and I’ll touch on that).

But if you have a “change of mind” option (or some similar term), you may not have to rely on a government advisory or another disruption or attack to convince yourself or your travel partners that the emotional anxiety and risk simply aren’t worth it. You can then cancel your trip on the strength of those emotions. And bad emotions can ruin the best of trips.

However—and this is a big however—whether you buy the basic trip cancellation/interruption insurance or the “change your mind” version, understand that only the non-refundable portion of what you have already paid out will be covered (and then only up to certain limits defined by your policy). If you prepay $1,500 per a night for the Georges Cinq Hotel in Paris, don’t expect your insurer to cover every dollar. There will be limits. You still have to pay for the luxury.

And if the kind folks at the Georges Cinq generously offer you a rebate on their own volition, that refund will not be covered by your trip insurance. No double dipping allowed. Similarly, if your airline waives the fee for changing your flight, or refunds part of your fare or offers you a voucher for future travel, an insurance payout will not kick in. Only non-refundable payments for goods or services will be covered. But if you’re paying $10,000 or $15,000 to take your family to Germany, Slovakia, or Croatia this summer, having a trip cancellation backup can still save you a bundle.

You need to understand trip cancellation/interruption plans, read the fine print, and, most importantly, let a travel insurance professional guide you. This is no game for amateurs.

I don’t endorse specific plans. I make no specific recommendations. I prefer to let the experts do it. Contact those connected with this site; they represent Canada’s major providers of trip cancellation policies, so you have good choices.

I believe the one choice you don’t have, though, during what could be another summer of discontent, is the option to leave your investment unprotected. The anxiety just isn’t worth it.

 

What can travel insurance do for you if your trip is interrupted by an act of terrorism? Find out more.