Are you covered? Surprising ways you could be excluded from your travel insurance policy
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 7:06PM PDT
Your bags are packed, flights are booked and you’re ready to head off on vacation. You even purchased a travel insurance policy in case of emergencies. But are you really covered?
“About 15 per cent of travellers will have an incident where they need travel insurance,” said Allison Wallace of Flight Centre.
In a matter of moments, vacation fun can go horribly wrong and if you’re hurt, travel insurance can save you. But sometimes high-risk activities can void your coverage.
“I think a lot of people go and get insurance thinking they’re covered for everything. They don’t know what they have and then are surprised to find out they aren’t covered for certain things,” Wallace said.
Natalie Farrell got left behind from a backpacking trip to volunteer and provide community service in Bangladesh.
“It was mandatory in our contract to have valid travel insurance," she said.
Farrell did purchase insurance, but says she didn't know about a government warning to avoid non-essential travel to Bangladesh, which meant she wasn’t covered for medical or trip cancellation insurance. And she found out too late to do anything about it.
"I mean, you can go without insurance, but I don't think that's a safe thing to do in a country where the Canadian government's saying it's not safe for foreign travellers to go," she said.
Farrell paid the tour provider, Operation Groundswell, $3,300 and relied on its expertise since it organizes backpacking trips to many less-travelled places.
"If they're fully aware that there's a travel advisory that can affect your travel insurance and make it void, then they should be communicating that ahead of time," said Farrell.
The company encourages travellers to do their own research and doesn't take responsibility for the insurance they buy.
It’s a good reminder to ensure you know your policy coverage. You should also look for travel advisories before you book and exclusions in travel insurance, like pre-existing medical conditions or high-risk activities, like mountain climbing or parasailing,” Wallace said.
And even if you are covered be careful about drinking.
"There are a lot of insurance companies that could exclude [travellers] if they're under the influence, and that could be one drink," warned Wallace.
Farrell would have been insured for trip cancellation if she had bought travel insurance before a travel warning was issued. CTV News contacted a travel insurer who told us even with an advisory in place, a traveller would still medical coverage as long as illness or injury isn’t related to risks covered under the advisory such as terrorism, political demonstrations or clashes from enforced strikes. Each traveller, however, should confirm the details of their coverage with the provider.
If you are travelling to high-risk countries, you can purchase supplemental insurance, but that has to be done several days before your departure date.
You can also buy supplemental insurance for high-risk activities, but expect to pay more.