International Travel Health Insurance: Know Your Coverage

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Buying international travel health insurance is an important step for sufficient medical coverage while outside Canada, but it is only the first step. To make your policy work, say industry regulators, there has to be a co-operative relationship between the policyholder and the company.

Indeed, the range of medical treatment around the world is so broad and varied, home-based insurance companies will provide booklets outlining what they will, and will not cover. Therefore, an equally important step at the time of purchase of international travel health insurance is for the traveller to become as familiar as possible with the basic guidelines of the policy before an emergency occurs. Decisions on the reimbursement of expenses are not likely to be the first thing on your mind in an urgent situation.

How do we ensure financial coverage during a medical emergency?

Here are a few guidelines offered by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). FSCO is an agency of the Ministry of Finance that regulates Ontario's insurance industry.

Obtain authorization

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As soon as possible, says FSCO, call the emergency service centre telephone number provided with your policy. The service centre's role is to manage your medical care and make the claim process fast and efficient. The centre provides claim administrators, on site doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to arrange care and monitor treatment. To ensure international travel insurance coverage, if possible, don't proceed with any medical treatment without full authorization.

You can assist the claims process more efficiently, if you:

  • Supply all the facts and information accurately.

  • Keep a log of the contacts at both the service centre and your insurance company, including the names of people assisting you, the date of the contact, and what was discussed.

  • Keep a detailed record of all medical transactions. Get receipts for the medical care including tests, treatments, and prescriptions. Receipts are a must when making a claim. Also, observe the time limits of your policy.

  • Complete the forms supplied and enclose all original bills signed by the attending physician, plus receipts and supporting claim documentation. Be sure to include your policy identification number, health card number and date of birth. Keep copies of all documentation submitted to the company.

More information on international travel health insurance is available online at www.fsco.gov.on.ca For a copy of their booklet Shopping for Travel Health Insurance phone (416) 590-7298 (Toll Free: 1-800-668-0128).

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