Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Make Sure Your Travel Insurance Policy Fits Your Trip and Your Health: Advisers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Make Sure Your Travel Insurance Policy Fits Your Trip and Your Health: Advisers

Article excerpt

Read the fine print on travel insurance


TORONTO - Last winter, Eugene Gushuliak was in the kitchen of his Mexican timeshare when he collapsed and blacked out.

Gushuliak, 73, doesn't remember the events that followed -- the ambulance that took him to the Puerto Vallarta hospital, the three specialists enlisted for his care, or the flight that brought him back to Winnipeg.

What he does know is that the three-day hospital stay to treat a heart problem, along with the flight home with his wife, nurse and doctor, added up to $90,000. It was a bill his travel insurance company took care of completely.

Virginia Gushuliak said she and her husband have been vacationing in Mexico for years and have never taken chances when it came to buying travel insurance.

"It's a gamble. You're gambling that you're going to be well," she said.

Alex Bittner, the head of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, said while the cost of a policy can put people off, the value should be weighed against the potential of receiving a bill for thousands of dollars for out-of-country emergency care.

He said it's risky to take the cheapest policy without reading the fine print first.

"I always say, know your trip, know your policy and know your health," said Bittner, who is president of the volunteer-run industry group.

"Price is important, obviously. We're all consumers. But coverage is key. Once I establish that the coverage is what I want and what I need, then I can start looking at the price and see if that fits my budget."

Other tips on buying travel insurance:

-- Ensure that the policy will cover you for the length of your trip and can be extended for any reason.

-- Know what medical conditions and emergencies are covered. For example, some policies exclude treatment stemming from high intensity sports, such as hockey. A parent who buys travel insurance for a child playing in a minor-league hockey tournament in the U.S. should make sure that the policy would cover all medical incidents, whether it's an on-ice accident or a slip and fall at the hotel pool.

-- Check the payout cap. A good travel insurance plan can have a payout of up to $5 million. …

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