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BMO March Break Travel Study: One-in-Four Canadians Have Required Medical Attention While Travelling

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Mar 12, 2013) - With March Break upon us and thousands of Canadians heading to the slopes or beaches, BMO Insurance reminds travelers to make sure they have travel medical insurance before leaving home. According to a BMO study, one-quarter of Canadian travelers have needed medical attention while travelling, but only 41 per cent purchase travel medical insurance on a regular basis.

"Checking to see whether you have the right travel medical insurance should be one of the first things you cross off your list before you pack," said Julie Barker-Merz, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, BMO Insurance. "Whether it''s a broken leg or the stomach flu, health issues can arise while on holiday. Canadians should secure themselves with the right kind of insurance."

Highlights of the study include:

  • Forty per cent of Canadians have reported that they have travelled with someone who has required medical assistance. 
  • More than 60 per cent of Canadians, 65 years and older usually or always purchase travel insurance, while only 49 per cent of those under 30 do.

When asked about the specific costs associated with medical treatment while abroad, the study found that the majority of Canadians do not realize how much money is at stake. As well, only 50 per cent of Canadians correctly identified that, for those travelling without medical insurance, they themselves are primarily responsible for covering their medical expenses.

According to the U.S. Government''s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the average cost per hospital stay in the U.S. for adults ages 45-84 was over $12,000 in 2010.

"A medical emergency can turn into an unfortunate financial situation given the high cost of medical services that can be incurred while away, including medical consultations, ambulances, hospital stays or emergency air transport," said Ms. Barker-Merz. "Before you head out, be sure to check with your insurance provider to ensure you will be covered adequately. That way you can rest easy and enjoy your vacation."

BMO offers insights on what Canadians should consider when selecting a travel insurance policy:

  • Get enough coverage: Basic travel insurance will cover things like lost luggage, trip cancellation and missed connections, but may not include medical coverage. Look for a travel policy that includes medical and dental coverage, air ambulance, private duty nurse expenses, trip interruption and airfare/lodging for a family member to be by your side.

  • Make it cost-effective: "Pay-as-you-go" medical travel insurance can be purchased before each trip. However, those who are out-of-province or out of Canada more than once during a 12-month period should consider a policy with an annual premium. For example, BMO''s 10-Day Annual Travel Medical Insurance offers emergency medical coverage for the first 10 days of a trip for an unlimited number of trips each year, with coverage options available for individuals or families. This option can be extended for trips that exceed 10 days for an additional premium.

  • Understand who pays: Some insurers pay the doctor directly while others require the traveler to pay up front and then get reimbursed at a later date. Find this out beforehand to avoid confusion at your time of need.

  • Read the fine print: Make sure your insurance policy covers you for all your trip activities and is valid for the duration of the trip. Be sure to clarify any issues with the insurer before leaving home. Keep a copy of the policy for your records and the contact information of your insurance company.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara with a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between June 14-18, 2012.

For more information on BMO Travel Insurance: www.bmo.com/home/personal/banking/insurance/travel.

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