Strong loonie expected to spark more cross-border trips which many Canadians
still make without adequate medical insurance

BCAA offers advice to ensure your insurance coverage meets your U.S. travel needs

BURNABY, BC, April 15 /CNW/ - With the Canadian dollar at or near par, BCAA predicts more British Columbians will head to the U.S. this spring for vacations, quick getaways and retail shopping - and many may be taking costly risks along the way.

According to the latest statistics available, 37 per cent of Canadians never purchase travel insurance when visiting the U.S. for leisure (Ipsos Reid, May 2007). While people aged 65 and older are more likely to purchase travel insurance, 42 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 take the gamble, indicating they've never purchased travel insurance when visiting the States.

"Crossing the border without travel insurance is a huge risk," says Lorraine Bullock, BCAA's manager of travel medical and life insurance. "The U.S. has some of the most expensive health care in the world, and even small, unexpected medical emergencies can end up costing thousands of dollars."

Bullock says many people have the misperception that they are adequately covered by their provincial plan, employer plan or through their credit card.

"The fact is, Health Insurance B.C. may only cover as little as ten per cent of a person's medical expenses outside of the province," she says. "And, employer and credit card travel insurance plans often have limited coverage as well. Additional travel insurance can close gaps in coverage and be customized to suit specific health requirements and travel needs."

BCAA offers the following advice when selecting travel medical insurance:

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
        available?
    -   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 medical services?
    -   Does the policy provide coverage for your emergency transportation
        back to Canada or transportation of a companion to be at your
        bedside?

    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
        trips.
    -   What's the limit on coverage for medical expenses?
    

Leisure trips to the U.S. made by Canadians are expected to increase by 3.2 per cent this year (Conference Board of Canada, Feb 2010). BCAA recommends travellers of all ages carry adequate travel medical insurance so they can receive the treatment they need during their trip and avoid costly medical expenses.

To find out which policy meets your needs, speak with your insurance advisor, or visit www.bcaa.com.

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of over 780,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Public Affairs Advisor, Tel: (604) 268-5342, Cell: (604) 376-6889, niela.melanio@bcaa.com; Lorraine Bullock, BCAA Insurance, Senior Product Manager - Travel Medical and Life Insurance, Tel: (604) 268-5013, lorraine.bullock@bcaa.com


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