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REPEAT-One-Quarter of Canadians Have Needed Medical Attention While Travelling Abroad: BMO Insurance

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jul 27, 2013) - With 83 per cent of Canadians planning on taking a summer vacation this year, BMO Insurance reminds travelers to keep safety and finances in mind when away from home.

According to BMO Insurance's Annual Travel study, a quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians have, at some point, required medical attention for themselves or a travel companion while on vacation.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that required medical treatment could cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, forty-two per cent remain confident they could cover all of their medical costs if they required medical attention while abroad, even if uninsured.

"Receiving medical treatment outside of Canada without the proper travel insurance in-place can be very expensive, particularly if those costs are not budgeted for," said Julie Barker-Merz, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, BMO Insurance. "We encourage Canadians to educate themselves on the potential financial risks they face when travelling without medical insurance, and to investigate what affordable options are available to them."

Ms. Barker-Merz noted that, for example, treatment for a broken leg in Florida could cost up to US$20,000, while decompression sickness in Thailand could cost up to US$40,000 to treat.

Top Reasons Why Canadians Don't Buy Travel Insurance

Further, according to the study, nearly a third (31 per cent) of Canadians either never or only sometimes purchase travel medical insurance when vacationing outside of Canada. Among those who do not always purchase insurance every time they leave the country, the top reasons identified were:

  • Already covered by a workplace or provincial healthcare plan
  • Already covered by a credit card
  • It costs too much money
  • Unlikely to need medical attention

"Emergencies can happen anywhere and any time, so it's critical that Canadians ensure they have the proper medical coverage before travelling," said Ms. Barker-Merz. "While Canadians can sometimes be covered under the terms of their credit card or workplace healthcare plan, they need to do their research well in advance of their trip to be certain that they have insurance in place that is right for their trip."

BMO Insurance 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.

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

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The online survey was conducted by Pollara with a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between May 9 and May 13, 2013.