The rough guide to travel insurance

Here’s how to avoid getting taken for a ride.

  57

by

From the February 2008 issue of the magazine.

  57

If you’re planning a trip this winter, buying travel insurance probably isn’t at the top of your itinerary. But there is a way to make the process simple, fast—and cheaper, too.

Just go to InsureMyTrip.ca. It allows you to easily compare policies and prices. That can mean the difference between paying $40 or $100 for the same coverage.

The site asks you for a few details about your trip, then produces up to a dozen different quotes from four agents. You choose the one you want, read the fine print before you buy, then purchase the policy directly over the web.

Jim Grace, founder of IMT Services, which operates the website, says the most important type of insurance to buy is emergency travel medical coverage. This insurance pays for health services that aren’t covered by your provincial plan. If you fall ill or get injured in a remote location, it also pays for emergency transportation to a health-care facility. Unless you’re already covered through a comprehensive private plan, you should get a medical policy—it could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

When choosing between policies, consider the price and the maximum amount you’re covered for (you need more in the U.S. and Europe, less in developing countries). Also look at the policy’s coverage of what insurers call “pre-existing conditions.” If you have a heart murmur, blood condition or other medical issue before you set off on your trip, and fall ill while on the road, some insurers will refuse to pay on the grounds that your holiday emergency was the result of a medical condition you had before the plane took off.

To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, Grace says you should call the toll-free number on the site for help if you’re older or have had health problems. His agents should be able to tell you whether the policy you’re looking at will cover you properly, given your age and medical history.

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