I cannot say this often enough! Medical travel insurance is not an option—it’s a necessity, especially today. And I don’t care what age you are. Equally vital is making sure everyone involved is well informed on the reporting procedures.
My husband travelled on his own to Portugal to visit family. Normally, I would have accompanied him, however, due to tight editorial deadlines on the magazine I edit, I could not.
It was a freak accident. My husband was at an outdoor shopping centre with his brother. It was raining so the outdoor escalators were slick. My very physically fit, strong husband stepped on the first step of a two-storey escalator, lost his footing when his rubber-soled shoes hit the slippery metal step and tumbled uncontrollably to the bottom. Luckily no one else other than his brother who stood behind him was on the escalator at the time. My husband lost consciousness at the bottom but his brother revived him and escorted him to their parents’ home. The next morning, my husband could barely move. His neck, shoulders, back and right hip were swollen and badly bruised and cut. An ambulance was summoned and he underwent a number of X-rays and scans at the hospital to ensure he hadn’t suffered a concussion or broken bones. Fortunately, he was fine.
I always buy medical travel insurance on a yearly basis so, regardless of when and where we travel, we’re covered.
However, being on his own and somewhat out of control of his circumstances, he had not notified the insurance company within the 48-hour window they require. Nor had he called me because he didn’t want me to worry so I wasn’t able to call the insurance company on his behalf. It is very important to make sure everyone, from your spouse to close family members and friends, are aware of the procedures when it comes to medical travel insurance. They may have to act on your behalf. Luckily, with some explaining on my part, we were covered.
On another occasion, guests from Rochester, New York, were staying for a couple of days at our bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. How often do you think of taking out medical travel insurance when travelling to the U.S.? What could go wrong in a day or two? Besides the American gentleman had just received clearance to travel from his doctor the day before they arrived.
That evening they attended a theatre performance. It was an old theatre and he had to climb stairs. He felt a little winded but said nothing. The following morning, after breakfast, he excused himself from the table. I noticed he looked grey as he shuffled to his room. His wife followed him shortly thereafter to find him seated on a chair, sweating profusely, gasping for breath. She asked how far the hospital was. I immediately asked if he needed an ambulance. He nodded. Within 10 minutes, paramedics arrived and whisked him off to the emergency ward. From there, he was transferred to another hospital an hour away for X-rays, tests and an emergency stent procedure, then returned to the admitting hospital later that evening—all by ambulance.
I asked his wife if they had medical travel insurance. She didn’t know. When all was said and done, she estimated this experience could cost them $20,000. I hope not.
But it is a lesson she and her husband will never forget. Never take anything for granted. Always make sure you are covered with medical travel insurance because you just never know when you will need it. Two to three hundred dollars a year is a small price to pay for peace of mind and knowing you and your loved one will be taken care of in case of an emergency.
Medical travel insurance coverage and clear communication are the lessons here, if you’re travelling anywhere out of your residential province for hours, days, weeks or more. And that includes travel within Canada because not all provincial plans are recognized in other provinces. Check before you go.