16 Things You Need to Know About Insurance in 2016

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The start of a brand new year is a great time to think about what lies ahead. Is a significant life change, like graduation or retirement, on the horizon? There is no time like the present to start learning more about insurance policies that can help bridge the gaps in government health insurance plans.

The state of health insurance, dental insurance and travel insurance markets in Canada are always evolving. It is in your best interest to arm yourself with as much information as you can to understand your coverage needs, now and in the future. The first step is learning 16 things you need to know about Health, Dental and Travel Insurance in 2016.

Health Insurance in Canada

In Canada, health insurance coverage is provided to residents by the province or territory in which they reside. Many people believe that’s all they need to know about health insurance in Canada. Here are a few things you may not have considered:

1. Many Services Fall Outside Provincial Coverage

While it’s true that residents with provincial coverage don’t have to pay to go see a doctor or for most hospital services, there are a lot of healthcare services that fall outside of the government plans. A short list of services that are not covered includes dental care, registered therapists such as physiotherapy, ambulance transportation, semi-private hospital rooms and prescription drugs.

These additional treatments are key components of our overall health and well-being, particularly when recovering from an illness or injury. Health insurance can help minimize the financial impact of paying for services that are not covered by the provincial plans.

2. Retirement Affects Coverage Options

Many Canadians approaching retirement are under the impression that any benefits they currently receive through their employer will continue after they have left the workplace. In many cases, this is simply not true.

For companies that do plan to allow employees to stay on with a benefit plan, only six percent of employers plan to do so at no additional cost to the retired plan member. The rest of 2016’s retirees will have to pay out of pocket to cover their healthcare costs.

3. Young People Also Need Health Insurance

It’s common to associate the ongoing care and treatment of health conditions with older Canadians. However, more and more of today’s new graduates are entering the workforce to find part-time or contract work is all that is available. This is a fine way to start a career, but one of the perks of full-time employment—a company group benefits package—is typically not included for casual workers.

This leaves many young Canadians without coverage for things they need every day, like prescription medications and vision coverage. No longer covered by their student associations or parental plans, newly-minted graduates are often facing life without health and dental insurance for the first time. The financial protection of a private policy is essential to getting off on the right foot.

4. Coverage for the Whole Family

It’s important to consider the needs of the whole family, including spouses and future dependents, when assessing health insurance needs.

In the event of an illness or accident, the last thing a family needs is the financial hardship of paying out of pocket expenses to manage treatments. Weigh the costs of a plan that covers the entire family against one that charges separately for dependents, for example, to ensure you’re getting the best value for your insurance coverage needs.

5. The Future of Health Insurance in Canada

It’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, but based on the trends of the last few years, we can say with certainty that Canadians will benefit from learning all they can about their options for private health and dental insurance. As dire predictions about the future of the public health insurance in Canada continue to gain traction in the news, it seems that Canadians will become responsible for more, not less, of their healthcare expenses in the future.

Whether you’re a retiree, self-employed, a new graduate or a new Canadian, there’s a health insurance plan that’s right for your needs. Make sure to purchase your health insurance plans based on what your needs will be in the future, not just your current healthcare needs.

Canada Dental Insurance Plans

The more we understand about the link between good oral care and good health, the more the importance of dental insurance in Canada comes to the forefront. With that in mind, there are a few things about dental insurance that you should know for 2016 and beyond:

6. Out-of-Pocket Costs Continue to Rise

As one learns on their first trip to the dentist without insurance, provincial health plans in Canada do not cover any dental maintenance. There’s no question that a trip to the dentist’s office can be very expensive, especially when patients are paying those expenses out of their own pocket.

The cost for an average trip to the dentist for something like a routine dental exam and cleaning can exceed $200 per person. If x-rays or more extensive work are required, the expenses associated with maintaining good oral health can add up very quickly.

7. Dental Insurance Plans can be Subject to Waiting Periods

Everybody wants to keep their monthly expenses as low as possible, and that’s a sound financial strategy. For some, this may include things like only carrying coverage for the bare minimum of oral healthcare services, thinking they can always upgrade their coverage later if it becomes necessary.

This can be a short-sighted strategy as most dental insurance plans in Canada include a waiting period for so-called major services. These major services that are excluded can include procedures like new crowns and dentures, which one might expect, but they also include repairs to existing crowns and bridgework.

When considering the cost of dental insurance, it’s important to evaluate your current and anticipated future needs with your dentist.

8. People with Dental Insurance See the Dentist More Often

Everyone should see the dentist. The exact schedule of care that an individual should follow is based on their health and dental history, and any ongoing treatments they require for the care and maintenance of their oral health. Your dentist is the best person to determine this course of treatment.

As mentioned previously, there is a strong link between good oral health and overall good health. And yet, without dental insurance, the people who need it most are also the most likely to go without dental care. People who carry dental insurance are dramatically more likely to keep up with the schedule of care their dentist recommends.

9. Dental Problems Tend to Increase with Age

It’s a fact: as we get older, our bodies slow down and we don’t recover quite as quickly we did in our younger days. Our oral health is no exception—dental care needs tend to increase with age. That’s why it’s critically important for soon-to-be retirees to understand what will happen to their dental insurance benefits when they leave the workforce.

Once upon a time, retirees in Canada could count on continuing the dental insurance benefits their employer provided. That’s no longer the case. To cut costs, companies are increasing co-pays, reducing benefits, or cancelling benefits programs for employees of all ages.

10. Future Trends for Dental Insurance in Canada

Dental care expenses have been steadily increasing for years, and there is no reason to believe this trend will change in the future. That means a person who is a decade away from retirement can’t use the costs of dental treatments today to develop a plan for the future—they must try to predict the future cost of treatments and adjust their retirement savings plans according. It’s clear that planning for the financial security of dental insurance is a sound long-term strategy.

It becomes increasingly apparent that the more we learn about the benefits of dental care, the more we realize that dental insurance benefits are an important element in maintaining overall good health.

Travel Insurance for Canadians

Canada is a beautiful country, but it’s a big world and travel is one of the best ways to broaden our horizons. Once your insurance needs at home are taken care of with health and dental insurance, it’s time to make sure you’re covered when travelling to another country, or even to another province.

11. Provincial Insurance Provides Care Within the Province

Many Canadians operate under the assumption that their healthcare needs are covered no matter where they travel in the country. They’re only partially correct. Outside of the province of residence, provincial health plans cover “Physician and Hospital Services Only.”

This means services that aren’t covered in your home province (ambulance transportation, medical equipment, semi-private hospital rooms, etc.) are also not included in another province. It also means that coverage is limited to what the same services would normally cost in your province of residence.

Because your extended health benefits provider assumes illnesses or accidents will occur in your province, you may not have automatic coverage when travelling to another province. This means that travel insurance is important for trips to another country, AND outside of your province or territory of residence.

12. Travel Insurance Matters at All Ages

Statistically speaking, your age at the time of travel and the duration of your stay outside of the country affect the likelihood that you will need to file a travel insurance claim. As many as 44% of young Canadians travel without appropriate travel insurance coverage. It’s potentially a very costly mistake!

Travel insurance is necessary for people of all ages. Consider the kinds of things we like to do on vacation: bike riding, trying new and exotic foods, swimming, sight-seeing. Any one of these holds the potential for accident, injury or illness. We can almost guarantee you will never find yourself in an emergency room far from home, regretting all that travel insurance you purchased!

13. Insurance May be Available With Pre-Existing Conditions

People travelling with a pre-existing condition often feel they will be unable to qualify for travel insurance because of that status, and they don’t bother to apply.

There are plans available that will cover stable pre-existing medical conditions. Before purchasing a plan, be sure to read the policies stability periods, limitations and exclusions to see how they will relate to your specific situation.

These applications often have lengthy medical questionnaires. If you have any doubts about how to answer the medical questions it’s in your best interest to consult with your physician.

14. One Policy Can Cover Multiple Trips

It may seem excessive to purchase travel insurance for something like an afternoon of cross-border shopping, or a weekend jaunt to a golf destination in a neighbouring province, but every trip should be insured. That’s where the value of multi-trip insurance policies really starts to shine.

For a premium that’s not much more than it costs to insure a single trip, you can be covered for all of your trips outside of the province, or outside of the country, for a 12 month period. Typical multi-trip options are 4 days, 9 days, 16 days, 30 days and 60 days of coverage per trip. You can also purchase “top-up” plans to cover the exact duration fo your trip.

15. Purchasing Travel Insurance is Easy

When purchasing travel insurance, people often think of the application process that comes with a purchase of life insurance. There are lengthy forms to complete, and the ensuing medical exam isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Rest assured, the application process for travel insurance for healthy adults and their families is much less daunting. In fact, many brokers and insurance companies offer an easy, online travel insurance application process. You can be on your way with adequate protection for yourself and your family in a matter of minutes.

Vacations are much more relaxing when you can enjoy them without worrying about the financial hardship that could come from an accident or sudden illness. In the event that you do have to seek treatment while far from home, travel insurance can provide relief from financial worries, letting you and your loved ones focus on getting better.

Choose an Insurance Broker

At every age and every stage of your life, insurance needs can change and it helps to have an industry professional on your side. That’s why we always recommend working with an insurance broker.

16. An Insurance Broker is on Your Side

The safest choice when considering your coverage options for any type of insurance is to work with a broker. An insurance broker is a knowledgeable professional, one who can help by educating and informing you about the sometimes complex language of insurance.

Brokers work to protect the best interests of their clients, not the insurance company’s bottom line. Brokers can act as your liaison between insurance companies and healthcare providers to investigate any discrepancies in the status of bill payments. Furthermore, in the event of an insurance claim, it can be extremely beneficial to have an advocate working on your behalf, navigating the insurance process and supporting your needs.

With these 16 things you should know about insurance in mind, are you ready to get started today? Contact us to reach one of our helpful customer service agents. We will answer your questions and help match you up the right health, dental and travel insurance for your needs, now and in the future.


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