What are your travel plans?

(NC) It seems the Polar Vortex that resulted in below average temperatures last winter has left an indelible mark on many of us, with 36 per cent of Canadians saying that they are more likely to travel this winter. Are you heading out too?

Here are some interesting findings from a survey conducted by Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA), in which respondents were asked about travel habits and trends, and also about their plans for insurance protection.

Residents from the coldest parts of Canada last winter − the eastern Prairie provinces, Ontario, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories − indicated that they are more likely to head to warmer climates this year. Ontario and Quebec residents had higher response rates than those from British Columbia, where temperatures weren’t as extreme. Seventy per cent of those more likely to travel say they plan to go to warm destinations.

The survey also revealed that 53 per cent of us routinely travel without travel health insurance, a surprising statistic given that 38 per cent indicated that unexpected medical expenses would represent a financial crisis.

“We weren’t surprised to discover that so many people are making travel plans after last winter,” says Alex Bittner, president of THIA. “But, we continue to be confounded that travel insurance isn’t considered as essential to a holiday as a bathing suit. Provincial health plans cover only around nine per cent of out-of-country medical costs. This relatively inexpensive kind of insurance is designed to pay for unexpected medical expenses.

Many people may already have some coverage through pension plans, employer benefits, or credit cards,” Bittner continues. “But these often have exclusions and limitations, so you have to know what is and isn’t covered by your travel insurance plan.”

THIA offers the following tips for the protection of travellers:

  • Be aware of your medical history, including why you take certain medications and tests. If you are unsure, ask your doctor.
  • Understand the different types of plans available. These include annual multi-trip plans for frequent travellers; single trip policies for snowbirds; special risk plans for adventure seekers; plans for those in less-than-perfect health.
  • Call your insurance company if you have any questions. They have dedicated phone numbers and staff available for you. And if at all possible, don’t wait until the last minute to buy insurance. This is an important purchase, and you want to have plenty of time understand your coverage.