While most of us are not travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, if you do travel outside of your province, carefully check the wording of your provincial health plan and any other travel medical coverage you have, such as an individual medical insurance policy, a group plan, or insurance associated with a credit card. Ensure that you understand your coverage, limitations, conditions, and exclusions. Updates and changes to the wording in travel medical policies are constantly changing and already, radical changes have been made to keep up with our ever-changing world and the potential medical needs of travellers.
Medical Insurance Coverage While Travelling Within Canada
Some people have the misconception that Canadians travelling in Canada are automatically covered under their home province’s medical plan. Historically, provinces have helped to pay for unexpected medical services for residents while they were travelling within Canada, to the maximum paid for the same services they received at home. That might no longer apply when you travel outside the province where you live. Provincial health plans have set up agreements with each of the other provincial health plans regarding how they will deal with coverage for their residents travelling inter-provincially.
When travelling outside of your province, within Canada, your own provincial medical coverage could be very limited and contain strict conditions and exclusions. Each province does not have the same health care coverage. For example, BC MSP pays for only a small portion of hospital costs in Alberta. COVID-19 coverage for out-of-province travellers might be very limited or excluded completely in many provinces.
More important than ever, do not rely on your provincial medical plan to pay for your medical costs when travelling in any other Canadian province. Equally important is to purchase separate travel insurance in the province where you reside. For example, if you live in BC and travel to Alberta, you need to purchase your travel medical coverage in BC before you leave.
Medical Insurance Coverage While Travelling Outside of Canada
Your provincial medical plan coverage is extremely limited when travelling outside of Canada and pays very little of your medical expenses should they occur. For example, as of January 2020, Ontario’s medical plan no longer covers residents travelling outside of Canada and does not pay for out-of-country health care claims. While other provinces have not yet followed suit, this could happen in the future. At the moment, on average, only five to ten percent of out-of-country health care expenses are paid by a provincial medical plan. In most cases, you must first pay the entire medical costs yourself and then submit a claim to your provincial medical plan for reimbursement of whatever portion is covered.
You should have additional travel medical insurance coverage whenever you travel outside your province and you must read the coverage wording, not only in the insurance you purchase, but also in your provincial plan so that you are fully aware of the coverage, limits, conditions, and exclusions.
Stand-alone COVID-19 Pandemic Medical Insurance
If you must travel, many individual travel medical insurers offer an option to purchase a stand-alone COVID-19 policy, which is an additional insurance policy that works in conjunction with a standard travel medical policy. Please be sure you are fully aware of the limitations and exclusions of the policy. The COVID-19 coverage is very specific and covers losses arising from sudden and unforeseeable circumstances related to COVID-19 only. If you test positive for COVID-19 while you are on a trip, the policy will cover expenses related solely to COVID-19 up to the maximum insured amount detailed in your Confirmation of Coverage. You must meet all the eligibility criteria of your policy.
Precautions When Preparing to Travel
If you travel and have the appropriate insurance coverage, you must still follow the safety restrictions and requirements of your provincial health officials, Canadian health officials, Government of Canada’s official travel advisory notices, your travel destination, and travel carriers which you will be using to transport you to your destination.
Double check the wording of your provincial medical plan, your individual or group medical plan, credit card extended medical coverage, and any additional specific COVID-19 or pandemic travel medical policy you’ve purchased.
Call your Murrick Group Insurance agent to ensure you have up-to-date, accurate travel insurance information and the appropriate coverage for your trip.