Travel Insurance and the “Pre-Existing Condition” Enigma and the Canadian Visitor to the United States of America (And Elsewhere)

When Canadians think of health insurance, they typically think of the universal health and medical coverage offered by the provincial government in their home province and which is offered and made available to all residents of Canada under the Canada Health Act. Unless they are a “snowbird”, the idea of medical travel insurance seldom comes to mind.

Many Canadians are fortunate to have employee benefit plans or individual health insurance programs, which are generally intended to enhance medical coverage (i.e. dental, vision, and prescription drugs) which is not otherwise available under the provincial health care programs. Many of these plans have imbedded in them a travel insurance component. “Travel insurance” refers to protection against “unexpected or unforeseen” medical emergencies, sudden illness or accidents which require medical attention, while travelling outside of the home province. Many also provide trip cancellation, trip interruption and baggage loss and other related unexpected travel events.

In an earlier article entitled, “Health Care and the Canadian Visitor to the United States of America”, I outlined the history of universal health care coverage in Canada (Alberta) together with its practical limitations and in doing so, identified the absolute need for supplemental or extended health insurance when travelling to the United States (or elsewhere), not only for the “snowbird” who frequently travels to the U.S. for their extended vacation but also for the infrequent visitor who crosses the border for shorter periods of time. In this regard, it is vitally important to understand the types of medical travel insurance available in Canada (hereafter referred to as “TIP”) and the nature of the limitations, conditions and exclusions that are contained in these types of insurance products. Moreover, it is critically important to be familiar with the “pre-existing condition” enigma contained in most of these policies. Failure to do so, could result in considerable financial risk to the uninformed or unprepared traveler.READ ON

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