How NOT To Buy Travel Insurance

I’ve given you lots of Do’s about buying travel insurance. Now I give you some don’ts.
Don’t buy insurance on price alone. This is not a microwave oven with a given model number and price. Each policy is specific to the applicant. Your age, health profile, travel destination and purpose determines what you need in your policy. There are ways to keep your price down, and shopping around is fine. But first of all determine what you need, then do your shopping. And when comparing prices, which you should do, make sure you’re comparing equals Your neighbour’s plan may cost less, but is he younger? If he healthier or travelling for a shorter period? Does he have deductibles? Is his coverage package different? This is a product like any other and a Chevy will never be a Cadillac.

Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer, especially if you are taking prescribed medications or have a medical history that requires you to see your doctor on a regular basis—that usually means most of us. Every insurer offers you time to inspect your policy before you finally commit. Inspect it, paying special attention to Benefits, Exclusions, and Definitions such as Pre-existing Conditions (and how that applies to your special case). If you filed a medical questionnaire by telephone, you’ll need time to verify all of the information was recorded accurately. Ask for a copy. And before you leave you want to have a letter from your insurer confirming that you have coverage on the basis of the information you have provided, for whatever conditions you have specified.

Don’t consider travel insurance a last minute add-on, like the extra jar of sun screen. Do it as early as you can. Snowbirds are old hands at this. Many buy “early bird” insurance several months before their departure to lock in rates before they go up. This is a great money saver. But if your health status changes in any way before your effective coverage date, you must notify your insurer and have your application altered. And that means any change, in symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, alteration of medication or dosage.

Don’t Buy A Policy Without Reading It First. It sounds so basic, But every day people buy insurance without knowing what they’re buying and many times freely admit they never read even the summary of their policy. At least read the summary and check out some of the definitions like pre-existing condition, stable and controlled, exclusions. Would you buy an airline ticket without knowing where your plane is going and when it’s taking off?

Don’t Buy From Someone Who Doesn’t Clearly Explain The Policy To You. Not all people know the travel insurance product they are selling. The best course is to buy from a company or agent that specializes in travel health insurance. If in doubt, buy from an agent who is a member of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada. Some will have that logo on their product. If not, ask.

Don’t Buy A Policy That A Salesperson Says Will “Cover Everything”. Such a policy doesn’t exist. The agent doesn’t know what they are selling. Walk Away.

Don’t Lie, Shade the Truth, Omit or Obscure Information That Might Invalidate Your Policy. Just because you get a policy handed to you doesn’t mean you are absolutely covered if the insurer later finds out you didn’t tell the whole truth. And if you are asked to provide medical information, make sure it is accurate and complete. If you’re not sure about something medical, ask your physician for help and make sure your doctor’s medical record supports your answers fully. The great majority of claims declined for medical reasons are justified denials and are caused by inaccurate, incomplete or misinterpreted information provided or omitted by the applicant.

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