Taking the time to travel to visit family out of province or out of country is always a priority for many Canadians. By the time we reach age 70, many of us are ready to travel for a little leisure too – to take a beach vacation, a cruise, or to just extend a business trip. It’s time to seek out historic sites and museums we’ve always wanted to visit, have culinary experiences, go golfing or sailing, and just tour sites we have always wanted to see.
Many of us depend on the emergency medical travel coverage included with our employer or personal health insurance plan for our short trips away from home. An ‘expiry date’ on your travel insurance can spell real trouble.
Check the expiry date on your medical travel coverage
If you have been depending on the travel coverage in your health insurance plan, it’s time to check the ‘expiry date’: the year that you are no longer eligible to renew your protection.
Employer health plans typically end when you retire or reduce your work hours, including the emergency travel coverage
Employer group travel insurance usually provides coverage for trips between 60 and 180 days in length for full time employees but may be shorter. The benefit percentage payable may reduce for travel within Canada vs outside of Canada. If you continue working full-time after age 65, your travel coverage duration may reduce significantly under the plan and likely expires once you reach age 70. If you work part-time, you may not meet the travel coverage eligibility requirements at all.
Most Canadians retire just before they reach age 65, and most employer benefit plans cease on retirement. If you have depended on your employer group coverage for your travel protection, its time to purchase your own emergency travel insurance for your next trip(s).
Even if you still have travel coverage through an employer or retiree plan, be certain to check the stability clause because as we age we may experience changes in our health which affect our travel coverage eligibility.
Individual health plan medical travel protection expires, even though you can continue health benefits coverage for life
If you have a supplemental personal health insurance policy, only trips of shorter durations – typically 9 to 30 days, are covered (add on options available with some plans have up to 90 days) and the benefits expires for older insureds, for example*:
- Manulife Association plan travel coverage expires at age 65
- Manulife FlexCare or Guaranteed Issue Enhance Plan travel coverage expires at age 70
- Manulife FollowMe travel add-on coverage must be purchased before age 70, and terminates at age 80
- SunLife health and dental travel coverage ends at age 80
- GMS health and dental plan annual travel coverage is only available up to age 80
- Blue Cross programs vary by province, offering annual travel plan options available only available with full health questionnaire if you are 61 and over
- Canada Life emergency travel medical benefit rider is renewed annually only up to age 80, and contains a pre-existing condition exclusion (any injury or sickness or change in medical condition that happened in the 6 months before your trip if you are under age 60, or in the 365 days before your trip if you are age 60 or over)
Credit card coverage has limitations and also age restrictions
Credit cards often offer travel insurance as a card holder bonus, but it is important to understand the coverage limitations. Many cards limit travel coverage if you are over age 65 and have maximum age limits. And remember, to qualify for any travel insurance under your credit card you need to purchase your tickets with that card.
Two ways to get coverage after age 70
If you are no longer eligible or have travel coverage under an employer plan, SBIS offers two solutions:
Purchase a health and dental plan that includes travel coverage for as long as you need it
SBIS’ exclusive Prism Spectra, Precision or Continuum health and dental plans offer travel coverage for 10 days up to 30 days duration – for as long as you own the plan. There are no age limits for the travel coverage, and you can enrol in a plan anytime before you reach age 80.
If you are already covered through another health and dental plan, you can cancel the existing plan and apply for a Prism plan with no lapse or duplication of coverage. Just ensure that SBIS receives and approves your application for the Prism plan 30 days prior to your current health and dental policy expiring. If you end up paying for two plans in one month, we will refund your premiums for the Prism program for the month during which you had duplicate coverage.
To enrol for a Prism plan, you and/or your spouse/partner and/or any covered dependents must be:
- a Canadian resident and
- currently covered by your Provincial Government Health Care plan
- between the ages of 18 and 79 to apply.
Once you are enrolled, your coverage will not terminate provided your monthly premiums are paid.
Choose from a variety of travel insurance plans
With a wide range of Emergency Medical Travel Plan options, SBIS can help you secure the comprehensive coverage you need for worry-free travel.
- If you plan to enjoy frequent trips out of the country, from cross-border shopping trips that last a day to weeklong vacations for some fun in the sun, Multi-Trip insurance can cover you for all of your trips within the same twelve-month period.
- If you are planning just one adventure, a Single trip travel insurance policy may be just what you need.
- A Top-Up Plan can help cover travel days that are over and above any existing coverage you have at a daily rate.
When you have a pre-existing condition travel medical insurance is more expensive than it is for those who do not. You know what else is expensive? Paying out of pocket for medical care when you are far away from home, and you have very little leverage to negotiate.
You have to be upfront about your medical history when applying for coverage. It may be tempting to fudge a little on the details but omitting information on your application form will effectively void your policy. If you wonder whether the details of a prior accident or illness are important enough to disclose, then always err on the side of caution.
Do you think you have gaps in travel insurance coverage?
Regardless of what type of insurance coverage you need for your travels, it is wise to always be sure you have read the policy yourself and discussed any potential gaps with an insurance professional. At SBIS, we can help.
Don’t wait. Call us and buy your travel insurance online as far ahead of your travel time as possible and before the coverage under your health insurance expires. If you want to change to a health insurance plan that will continue with travel coverage you need, find out more about our exclusive Prism plans here.
We can help complete the forms and any necessary medical questionnaires without hurrying, and you will have the time to read the certificate of coverage from start to finish before you leave. Getting the right insurance is serious business; it’s all about your safety. Get started now by calling us at 1-800-667-0429 during our regular business hours or emailing us at email@example.com for prompt service at any time.
*as of August 2022