With cross-border trips increasing in appeal, BCAA reminds travellers of the importance of travel medical insurance

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 medical coverage.

"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 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?
  • 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 trips.
  • 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.

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About BCAA
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:

Niela Melanio
BCAA Public Affairs Advisor
Tel: 604-268-5342
Cell: 604-376-6889

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