While snorkeling with the boys during a family vacation in Maui a few years ago, my right knee had an unfortunate encounter with a sea urchin.
After receiving basic first aid instructions from the lifeguard and alternating vinegar compresses and dips in the hot tub I was left with nothing worse than an irritating itch for the last few days of our stay.
Although it was an annoyance I don't care to repeat, I felt a tremendous sense of peace knowing that I wouldn't be bankrupted by medical bills if my medical needs were more acute.
Without coverage, you can get into trouble even if you don't leave Canada.
Medical plans vary from province to province, so don't make the mistake of thinking all is good the next time you visit outside of British Columbia.
Another mistake I often see is people buying travel insurance even if they have it already.
Check the details of your group benefits plan and any coverage provided through your credit cards.
If the coverage is sufficient, you may not even need to get extra coverage.
When purchasing travel insurance, here are some questions you should ask:
Will your policy cover you for the entire length of your absence from Canada or your home province?
If you decide to extend the length of your stay, can your policy be extended? How would this be done?
What types of restrictions and limitations does your policy have?
Does the policy deny benefits if your medical emergency arises because of a pre-existing condition?
Does your insurance company have a toll-free telephone number for emergency assistance that you can reach from anywhere you travel?
Are there exclusions that pertain to specific activities/events i.e., sports, war, suicide, substance abuse?
What maximums, deductibles and/or coinsurance would apply in the event of a claim?
What documentation is needed to submit a claim? What are the procedures?
Does your policy pay for emergency return home?
If you are traveling with others, does each individual need a separate policy, or can one policy cover all travelers?
Are there certain locations/countries that are not covered under the policy?
Does your policy provide for trip cancellation, baggage loss and other damages?
If you have out-of-country coverage through your group plan, are there any restrictions? Does it cover you for business travel only?
As in all financial matters, don't do this alone.
Your best bet is to go through the options with your financial advisor or insurance broker.
Feel free to contact us for a copy of our unbiased guide to travel insurance.
The opinions expressed are those of Richard Vetter, BA, CFP, CLU, ChFC. Richard is a certified financial planner and owner of WealthSmart Financial Group.