Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada

October 15, 2010 08:00 ET

Travel Insurance Warning Issued for Canadian Snowbirds and Winter Vacationers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 15, 2010) - Canadian snowbirds and winter vacationers are being warned to have proof of private travel health insurance in place prior to leaving for any trips to the United States, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic or elsewhere in the Caribbean this winter. 

The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) says that private insurance is essential for all winter destinations, particularly the U.S. where soaring health costs and uncertainty about the future of health care reform is forcing many economically-stressed hospitals to demand up-front deposits or direct payment arrangements of patients who cannot prove they have insurance coverage.

David Hartman, president of THIA, says: "The relentless increase in health care costs world-wide makes international travel insurance absolutely essential, even for one-day trips, as provincial health insurance reimbursements for out-of-country medical services don't come close to covering foreign hospital bills that can total thousands of dollars per day." He adds that even Cuba now requires all foreign visitors to have proof of travel insurance adequate to cover any medical services they might require in that country.

THIA suggests the following TIPS when shopping for travel insurance:
  • Don't buy on price alone. Insurance plans differ. All policies need to fit your health profile.
  • Read your Policy. Discuss it with your advisor. Examine a plan's exclusions and limitations: what it doesn't cover, as well as what it does. No travel insurance plan covers everything for every applicant—no matter what price you pay.
  • To keep your costs down, consider deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium.
  • Many plans cover pre-existing conditions that are stable and controlled, but you have to understand what "stable and controlled" means. If you must complete a medical application, do it completely and accurately and get your doctor's help if you need to.
  • Don't wait to the last minute to buy your insurance. If you need to provide medical information you may want to consult your doctor or your pharmacist or a family member who knows about your medical history. Leave time to do this properly. 
  • If you buy early for a trip you're taking later on in the year and your health changes in the interim, notify your insurer immediately.
  • Understand your own obligations and what you're required to do if a medical emergency strikes while you're out-of-the country.

"There are a lot of travel insurance products in the marketplace and very few Canadians who don't qualify for some level of coverage. For those with medical conditions, the best way to purchase travel insurance is to deal with a qualified advisor who deals extensively in travel insurance," says Mr. Hartman.

About THIA. THIA is Canada's national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is

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