Understanding Travel Insurance: Emergency Medical Insurance

Here is the scenario:  You have purchased your emergency medical travel insurance for your trip, or you already have it through your credit card or health plan. You don’t expect to need it so you put it to the back of your mind and probably don’t think about it again. However, CONSIDER BEING PREPARED for all eventualities BEFORE YOU EVEN TRAVEL…IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE STEPS LISTED BELOW:

1. Keep a copy of your insurance policy on paper AND also have it accessible on your cell phone.

2. Give the insurance details, including all the emergency numbers, to a contact at home AND to one or more traveling companions.

3. If your insurance policy provides a phone app to help with claims, download the app BEFORE you leave on the trip.

4. Be very aware that hospitals and health facilities MAY request a deposit. They may even require payment of smaller bills.

BE AWARE that travel insurance starts when you leave YOUR HOME PROVINCE and ends when you return to YOUR HOME PROVINCE. On RARE occasions it may be possible to make different arrangements BEFORE your trip starts. Contact your insurance broker for expert advice on this.

What happens if a medical emergency occurs during your trip? What do you do? At this point you would be surprised how many people panic and don’t know what to do next. They are confused. They are worried. Or maybe incapable of making the choices that they need to make at this point because of what has happened to them.

When the medical issue happens, the first thing YOU or SOMEONE ON YOUR BEHALF MUST DO IS TO PHONE THE EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE CENTRE FOR THE INSURANCE COMPANY. THE NUMBER WILL BE ON YOUR POLICY OR WALLET CARD.  Inform them of the medical issue. If you can, do this BEFORE going for any treatment, but only IF IT IS SAFE to do so. Otherwise contact the assistance centre AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Failure to promptly notify the insurance company of your emergency may result in denial of all or part of your claim.

Let the insurance company work with the hospital to get you well and, if necessary, get you back home.

For the insurance company you are going to have to provide your travel dates (start and end). Obtain proof of when you left Canada. Provide proof of return date if possible, e.g. airline ticket or booked accommodation back in Canada.

Since the claims examiner was not there to witness your emergency, it is a good thing to write down what happened, giving a timeline of events:

  • Be prepared to provide some context for the non-medical bills that you incur, so that the examiner does not have to ask for more information later on.
  • For your insurance claim you are going to need ORIGINAL receipts for all bills and invoices. ORIGINALS of medical records including complete diagnosis by the attending physician or documentation by the hospital which must support that the treatment was medically necessary. ORIGINALS of any pharmacy receipts. USE YOUR CAMERA or PHONE to take copies of all the receipts and reports.

You, or someone authorized on your behalf, will need to complete the claim form that your insurance company requires. When the claim form is sent in to the insurance company, it must have all the sections completed, all the requested documents and information. It will not be processed if it is only partially complete.

Mail in the claim forms within 30 days. This will speed up the process. If you don’t have all the bills yet, still send the claim in but let them know you are missing some bills.

Remember… Your emergency medical insurance covers you for acute medical care with a limited amount of follow-up afterwards. Travel Insurance is NOT a health plan, it is for emergencies only. If you need further tests after the emergency treatment, check with your insurer first before booking those tests. They may not be covered.

>