BURNABY, B.C., April 20 /CNW/ - As the Easter long weekend approaches
and the loonie continues to soar, many British Columbians may be
thinking of heading south to shop or vacation. That extra buying power
could, however, quickly be erased if someone finds themselves needing
medical attention without having adequate travel medical insurance.
The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) recommends anyone
travelling to the United States - even if just for a few hours -
consult their insurance agent and arrange for appropriate travel
"It's a gamble to travel outside the province without any or adequate
travel medical insurance coverage," says Michele Buttle, BCAA's
associate vice president, Insurance. "In the U.S., even a small,
unexpected medical emergency can end up costing thousands of dollars.
The cost of a travel medical policy is likely to be a fraction of the
cost of getting emergency medical attention."
Last year, when the Canadian dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar,
BCAA surveyed over 2,400 British Columbians to gauge the impact of the
strong dollar on cross-border travel and to find out how many
cross-border travellers purchased travel medical insurance. One third
of those who travelled to the U.S. during that time admitted they did
not purchase travel medical insurance, claiming they didn't think they
needed the coverage. The online survey also revealed older travellers
are most likely to purchase travel medical insurance. Of the
respondents who purchased travel medical insurance for their U.S. trip,
72 per cent were over 55 years of age.
Buttle says many people may have the misperception that if they're young
or have no medical conditions they don't need travel medical insurance.
Travellers may also think they are adequately covered by their
provincial plan, employer plan or through their credit card.
"Travel medical plans offered by employers and credit card companies
often have limited coverage, and Health Insurance B.C. may only cover
as little as ten per cent of a person's medical expenses outside the
province," she says. "Travellers can close those gaps in coverage with
additional insurance that can be customized to suit specific health
requirements and travel needs."
BCAA offers the following advice when selecting travel medical
Check the details of your current medical policies offered through your
employer and/or credit cards to find out what is and what isn't
covered. Things to consider:
Do you need to use approved facilities or can you seek treatment from
the doctor of your choice?
Can your supplier provide you with advice on where treatment may be
Does your policy cover incidental expenses such as telephone charges,
renting wheel chairs and crutches?
Do you have access to an emergency 24-hour, toll-free number with a
multilingual medical emergency assistance team?
Will the supplier communicate with treating physicians to ensure
treatment is appropriate and medically necessary?
Where possible, will the supplier coordinate up-front payment of covered
Does the policy provide coverage for your emergency transportation back
to Canada or transportation of a companion to be at your bedside?
Does the credit card provide travel medical insurance coverage for your
trip if the ticket or booking are not purchased using that credit
card? Travel medical coverage is usually provided by the credit card
company whether or not the trip was purchased using the card. However,
trip cancellations or interruptions may only be covered if the credit
card was used to purchase the trip.
Find gaps in your medical coverage by getting answers to the following questions
Does your insurance provider protect your spouse or children? If not,
can they be added?
Does it cover trips of any length? Some policies have a limit on trip
length and you may need to purchase additional coverage for longer
What's the limit on coverage for medical expenses?
BCAA also advises travellers to find out if your travel medical
insurance provides coverage for prescription drugs, ambulances, air
evacuation and emergency dental care.
To find out which travel insurance policy meets your needs, speak with
your insurance advisor, or visit bcaa.com.
# # #
BCAA strives to deliver an amazing experience to its 790,000 Members,
providing peace-of-mind and meeting their automotive, road travel and
insurance needs. BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C.,
with $400 million in gross annual sales and a Member in one-in-four
B.C. households. In addition to receiving award winning roadside
assistance and insurance services, Members can also take advantage of
CAA dollar rewards, insurance discounts and the Member exclusive Show
Your Card & Save program. To learn more about BCAA's benefits, services
and advocacy, visit bcaa.com.
SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association
For further information:
For further information, or to request an interview, please contact:
BCAA Public Affairs Advisor