Read the Fine Print Before Getting on the Plane

Read the Fine Print Before Getting on the Plane

When the calendar turns over to January 1, many Canadians pack up and head south. Once you are outside of Canada, most provincial healthcare plans will not cover your medical costs and expenses if you need medical help. The results can be devastating.

As a personal injury insurance lawyer, I’ve had clients who went into hospitals in the United States come out with bills of over $100,000. Each person had applied for and received travel medical insurance, but the insurers relied on a technical defect in the application to refuse to pay the hospital’s bill. Be careful — this can happen to anyone.

If you have ever purchased travel medical insurance, you know that buying the insurance is a very simple process. Indeed, many times the travel insurance can be obtained over the telephone by answering several questions. In these cases, the policy is never even directly provided to the person before travelling. While the convenience of obtaining travel medical insurance is great when you head out, convenience comes at a hefty price.

What you are not told at the time you apply for and obtain travel medical insurance is that if you do need to use your medical insurance while travelling, before paying the medical bills, your insurer will obtain your medical records and carefully review the records to look for any discrepancy in what you told the person when applying for medical insurance and the information in your medical records. If a discrepancy is found the insurer will deny coverage. You will be stuck with the bill.

To protect yourself, even if the insurance may cost more up front, you should always err on the side of providing more information to the agent when applying for travel medical insurance. Also, if answering a question about your previous medical health or previous prescription medications, you are almost always better to answer that you are not sure if you’ve had a particular complaint or taken a particular medication than answering in the definite negative. You don’t want to give the insurer any open door to later deny you coverage. If you are unfortunately already facing a hefty medical bill that your insurer has refused to pay, you should consult with an experienced insurance lawyer to review your options. You should almost never pay the full cost of the medical bill. In most cases, even if you ultimately have to pay the costs because your insurer can legally refuse to pay, the hospital will reduce the overall amount.

Remember, always obtain a copy of the travel insurance policy if you can before you leave the country and read the fine print. This small step could save you thousands.

Kristian Bonn, Personal Injury Lawyer

Bonn Law Office, Trenton/Belleville, ON