What Does Travel Health Insurance Cover?

Though there are minor variations from policy to policy, whatever is necessary to treat your medical emergency abroad is pretty well covered in policies issued by most Canadian travel insurance companies. This includes:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance hotline you can call from anyplace in the world for advice and assistance in handling a medical emergency. This will be staffed by the insurer’s emergency assistance service, which will be supervised by qualified medical professionals.
  • Inpatient or outpatient hospital and doctors’ fees (including specialists), intensive care, surgery, lab tests, anesthesia, blood, room and board, in-hospital drugs, medically necessary special duty nursing.
  • Outpatient hospital, clinic, or lab services – though there may be some limitations. This could vary from policy to policy. Check it out.
  • Some policies may cover limited chiropractor or therapist or other allied professional services but don’t take that for granted. Check your policy out first.
  • In addition, most policies will cover your air evacuation to a hospital if you’re in an area without appropriate medical services, such as a remote island or resort, or repatriation to a hospital in Canada under certain conditions. If, after your emergency is stabilized, the assistance service determines it’s safe for you to be transferred to a Canadian hospital for further treatment or management, they have the right to transfer you at their cost. This may include medical evacuation by air ambulance or by regularly scheduled airline (possibly with a qualified attendant). If you decline their recommendation, they can end their coverage.
    On the other hand you may want to be air evacuated back to Canada but they may prefer to keep you where you are. That’s up to them, and those decisions are not always done for clinical reasons but for economic ones. Medical Air repatriation is no free ticket home. Arrangements like these are complex and they can only be made by your emergency assistance service in coordination with your attending hospital, the air ambulance service, and the hospital receiving you in Canada (provided a bed has been reserved in your name—often with the help of your family physician). If you want your insurer to pay for this (at $15,000 to $25,000 within North America) you better let your emergency assistance service do it.
  • If, alas, you die while abroad, your policy will likely cover the return of your remains to your next of kin’s funeral director of choice, but this includes only the basics: no fancy caskets, flowers, or organ music. This too is best handled by your insurer as different countries and states have their own regulations and requirements about transporting the dead.
  • Most policies also provide benefits to allow family or a relative to travel to your hospital bedside if you are traveling alone or otherwise need assistance.
  • Most Canadian travel policies also offer options for baggage loss or damage, trip interruption or cancellation (with limitations you should read about in the section on Trip Cancellation), return of your auto or recreational vehicle if you have an emergency and can’t drive home on your own, other roadside assistance services which may also be duplicated by your auto club memberships.

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