Golden Girl Finance
Lori Yorke
Posts (9)

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Q&A: Travel insurance needed for trip to Cuba

November 23rd, 2012 by

My partner and I are planning a trip to Cuba; what kind of insurance do we need?

Asked by Frankie, Kanata, ON


In 2010, Cuba mandated that travel insurance is required as a prerequisite to being allowed into the country. This means you must show proof of your travel insurance upon arrival into the country. In fact, your entry into the country depends upon your medical insurance passing their validity test. Fortunately, they have allowed Canadian Travel Insurance companies to be named as valid travel insurance providers for their purposes, but you should definitely ask for verification of this prior to purchasing coverage from any travel insurance supplier before you leave for your vacation.

In your search for good coverage and well-priced travel insurance, consider these other important considerations:

  • Purchase your insurance from a knowledgeable provider, preferably someone who is licensed by your provincial insurance council.

  • Read your policy before you go, and preferably even before you buy your insurance. Ask lots of questions and get answers that make you feel comfortable.

  • Answer the medical questions as honestly and accurately as possible. Bring up everything that is in your history, not just what you think might be important.

  • Know that there are a lot of stories out there. Don’t let information that may or may not be accurate scare you from travelling where you wish to travel in your spare time. Get the facts from the professionals!

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Q&A: Travel insurance when going to school abroad

March 26th, 2012 by

My husband is going to med school in the US. We've been offered some low-cost plans, though I understand that cheapest isn't always the smartest way to go. He will be down there for a few years. What company/product would you recommend for him? He is 28 years old and I am staying in Canada. Thanks!

Asked by Young & Married, Winnipeg, MB


Congratulations for knowing that cheapest isn't always the smartest way to go! Here are some basic criteria you should be looking for in a policy to ensure you aren't risking any part of your family's bright future...

  • Resist the temptation to choose the plan based on costs rather than benefits. Heaven forbid, If something did happen, you'll be glad you did!

  • Many Student plans offer special benefits that appeal to your situation, such as Reimbursement of Tuition benefits (that would be valuable if something did come up and your husband couldn't finish his semester due to a medical reason; he would be eligible to receive his tuition back - up to the policy limit. This is an example of something you might not think of right away, but that would be great to have if the situation arose.

  • Most plans that are specifically created for students offer a renewal for subsequent years of study. This should be readily available with no fee for this feature.

  • Be accurate on the application. Be sure you have provided all the information that the company requires with regards to the school, course, etc., to ensure the policy is set up correctly.

  • Read the policy in full. Ask questions, questions, questions and get answers that make you feel comfortable. If you aren't completely satisfied, most plans will allow you to cancel with no penalty within the first 10 days after you make your purchase.

  • Know that there are a lot of stories on coffee row. Don't let information that may or may not be accurate scare you from realizing both your dreams. Get the facts from the professionals!

  • Purchase your insurance from a knowledgeable provider, preferably someone who is licensed by your provincial insurance council (such as the Insurance Council of Manitoba

The long road of being the spouse of a student enrolled in a school far from home will have good times, and also its share of challenging times. If you do your legwork now to ensure that medical insurance is taken care of properly, it will be one less issue to worry about later.

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Q&A: Travelling to the U.S. after breast cancer surgery

September 30th, 2011 by

I had breast cancer surgery and am waiting to hear if I need chemo. When would be the soonest we could go to Mesa?

Asked by L., MacGregor, MB


Congratulations to you for triumphing over your courageous battle. Timing for travel after such a serious medical condition and treatment is best discussed with your doctor. When your doctor gives you the go ahead, you will want to ensure you have proper travel insurance to cover you in case anything unexpected comes up.

Below is a list of requirements for most travel insurance policies in order to be eligible for a policy:

  • Not Traveling against Doctor's Orders - Be sure to have your doctor's blessing before planning any travel no matter how near or far from home you plan to go. This is a very important requirement so you should ask your doctor to put this in writing for you.

  • Terminal Illness - Most policies have an eligibility requirement that they won't offer a policy if you have been diagnosed with a Terminal Illness. This is the policy definition of Terminal Illness, and not necessarily your doctor's definition, so be sure to ask your travel insurance supplier what the policy definition is.

  • Current Treatment for Cancer - If you are in the midst of treatments, or have been in treatment in the last 6 to 12 months, you may not qualify for a policy with some insurance providers.

If you are able to qualify for a policy, that means you will have coverage for emergency related incidents, but how much will you have to pay?

  • The Medical Questionnaire - "Have you had, been diagnosed with, had treatment for....cancer?" You will have to answer 'yes' to this now. Answering yes to this question will add a surcharge to your policy. How long you will have to say yes depends on the timeframe of the question. 12 months? 2 years? 5 years? Preferably, you want the shortest time frame possible, so you don't pay a surcharge for too long. There will be a surcharge, but normally the surcharge shouldn't be too great.

Some people are under the misconception that if they pay the surcharge, they will automatically have coverage for their pre-existing conditions.

  • Cancer is a Pre-existing Condition - All policies outline how their coverage deals with pre-existing conditions. All policies require some amount of 'stability' to be reached before you depart on your trip in order to provide coverage for any medical emergency you might have regarding that medical condition. Most policies require at least 90 days of stability prior to your departure, but it does depend on other factors such as other medical conditions, age, and length of trip.

What happens if you don't meet all of this criteria? It might mean that you have to rethink Mesa, and consider other options. You may not mind having no coverage for anything related to cancer now that you have your relationship with your oncologist and you feel comfortable contacting him or her and making a fast trip back to Canada if anything should come up. Or perhaps you feel more comfortable spending the winter in Canada so your Government Health Care plan will cover any further treatment you may need.

Victoria is a very mild climate and many Canadians winter there. Extra travel medical coverage is not required within Canada, although it is readily available and is a good idea. In Canada, travel medical coverage can be a lot less expensive while providing better coverage for you to rely on should there be an unexpected problem.

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is for you to feel comfortable with the decision.

Remember this: Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Radmacher

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Q&A: Travel insurance for trip to Egypt

September 29th, 2011 by

What type of travel insurance do you recommend for travelling outside of Canada to, for example, Egypt?

Asked by William, Coquitlam, BC


Travelling to new and foreign places can be exciting and rewarding. Of course, it goes without saying that anytime you travel, you should ensure you have the travel medical insurance you need to protect yourself against the high cost of illness away from home.

Egypt poses a special concern in that the Canadian government has issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Egypt. This advisory has been in effect ever since the uprising in Egypt started almost a year ago.

Most travel insurance policies protect themselves against their policyholders traveling to areas where the Canadian government does not recommend travel, which they would consider a known risk. Obviously, that won't help you if your bucket list includes a trip to see the great pyramids.

Where to start?

  • You will want to check to see the status of your favourite destination. A full list of current travel advisories can be found here. You can also add your email to the free notification service by signing up through this link.

  • It is very important to ensure that you peruse the Exclusion section of any policy you purchase to ensure a travel advisory exclusion does not exist that excludes coverage if you travel to an area where a travel advisory exists. There are policies that exist that do not include this type of exclusion, but you will have to look around.

  • Even though your question isn't specific to trip cancellation insurance, I should add that trip cancellation insurance will have a similar exclusion against cancelling your trip because of an uprising when you booked your ticket with the knowledge that the Canadian government had issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to that jurisdiction. That means coverage would be excluded if you book a trip despite a warning that has been issued against the place you are travelling to, and you later decide to cancel your trip because of a change of heart about traveling to that region.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours as to whether your comfort level allows you to consider travelling to Egypt, despite the limitations you might have regarding coverage. Better to be informed, than not be informed.

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Q&A: Travel advisory for Mexico

February 18th, 2011 by

I was reading your recent response with respect to travel advisories. My husband and I spend the winter in Southern Arizona and we travel frequently to Mexico since we are so close. Does this travel advisory exclusion affect us as well?

Asked by Jeannie, Brandon, MB


That is an excellent question. Congrats for being on your toes, golden girl!

If you winter in Arizona, you probably didn't buy trip cancellation insurance. You probably drove down to Arizona from Canada and purchased travel medical insurance only. Travel medical insurance policies have exclusions based on travel advisories issued by the Canadian government just like trip cancellation policies do. That means that based on the travel advisory currently issued for Mexico, your policy may exclude coverage for any medical treatment you may need as a result of an incident that may happen in an area of Mexico included in the advisory.

If you look at the recent travel advisory issued for Mexico, you will see that border areas between the US and Mexico are included as part of the current travel advisory, warning Canadians against non-essential travel to those areas. So if you decide to go to one of the areas listed under that warning, and your policy contains an exclusion against travelling to these areas, then you may not have coverage.

Think of it like this. If your husband knowingly plans to put himself in harm's way, you might warn him not to do so by saying, "Don't do it, it's not worth the risk!" Similarly, if the Government of Canada takes the time to publish an advisory to its residents confirming that it is not safe to travel somewhere, and you decide to go anyway, your travel medical insurance provider may say, "If you go against the advice given to you, we won't cover you for the risk."

Let me reiterate that travel medical insurance policies are as varied as there are companies that sell travel medical Insurance. I recommend you check the Exclusion Section of your policy to determine what rules apply to you should you decide to travel to any part of Mexico. The possibilities are as varied as the policies themselves, so you may wish to call the company you purchased the policy through for their interpretation and advice on the matter.

Travellers of all ages and in all situations need to make smart decisions about taking risks. Don't let anyone talk you into taking a risk that you feel is not worth it. But also don't forget the importance of living life to the fullest!