Visitors to Canada Need Travel Insurance. Make Sure They Know

Parents, relatives, children from abroad coming to visit you for the holidays?  Make sure they have travel medical insurance—either from companies purchased in their home country, or from travel insurers in Canada who offer visitors’ insurance.

Most government health insurance plans in Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia will not cover accidents or medical emergencies incurred by their residents travelling in Canada or the United States. Virtually all travellers need to have private travel insurance to cover medical emergencies in foreign countries, except for members of the European Union who have some reciprocal arrangements between their nations.

If your visitors do not have medical insurance, you can still have them protected by getting coverage for them from the same travel insurance companies from which you buy your out-of-country insurance.  But there are some limitations you need to know about.

Because medical care in Canada is expensive (a foreign visitor could be expected to pay up to $5000.00 per day in a metropolitan area hospital—more if intensive care and major procedures were required), Canadian insurers cap the benefits they pay for visitors—usually up to $300,000. That is very different from the $1 to $5 million they will pay for medical and related benefits for out-of-country travel policies for Canadian residents.

Pre-existing conditions limitations will apply on your visitors’ policies.  So if they have a pre-existing condition, you should know about it when completing an application for them. You need to know if they are under treatment, taking medication or have had tests and referrals to specialists recently.  To be safe, you need to understand how a given policy defines pre-existing conditions, and how that applies to your parent, relative or child.

Buy the insurance before they leave their home country and make sure coverage goes into effect the moment they land on Canadian soil.  If you wait until they arrive, coverage will likely not go into effect until 48 or 72 hours after purchase. That’s a protection against people coming toCanada for medical services after they are already ill.

Pay as much attention to the Exclusions, Limitations, definitions of key terms such as “pre-existing condition… stable, or unstable condition, treatment, and emergency,” as you would if buying a policy for yourself.

Certainly you don’t want to be in a position of signing a promissory note to a Canadian hospital to cover the expenses left behind by family or friends.  Make no mistake: Canadian hospitals are expensive, they charge foreign travellers much more than the same services would cost if expended on Canadians, and they are not the least bit shy about demanding payment and doing what they need to get it.

Make sure your friends and family are protected when to come visiting.  But do your homework.

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