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Make Sure March Break Doesn’t Break the Bank

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March Break already? Doesn't it seem like the first day of school just happened? Yet here you are, preparing to pack up the family for a well-deserved break. Except in this, the year of the polar vortex, March Break travellers need to be ready to take on the unexpected more than ever. Before you take to the friendly skies, keep a few things in mind.

Airlines Don’t Control the Weather

Airlines don’t have any more control over the weather than you do! If your flight is significantly delayed because weather conditions make it unsafe to take off or land, you’re on your own. Flight Rights Canada was announced to great fanfare in 2008 as a long-awaited passenger bill of rights, but it specifically states airlines are not responsible for “inclement weather or the actions of third parties such as acts of government or air traffic control, airport authorities, security agencies, law enforcement or Customs and Immigration officials.

That means you are responsible for hotels, meals and any other expenses incurred while you wait. If it’s a few short hours this should not be a big problem, but if your vacation destination is hit with severe weather like flooding, you could be waiting it out for a few days.

Provincial Coverage Doesn’t Leave the Country

The fact that you’re even reading up on March Break travel insurance means you’re well ahead of most Canadians. The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) surveyed Canadians about their travel habits, their understanding of provincial health coverage, and their travel health insurance purchases. The results showed a shocking lack of knowledge about travel insurance protection among respondents. Only 6% of Canadians are aware of how little protection their provincial plan offers while travelling outside of Canada, and 35% of Canadian travellers don’t buy any kind of travel medical insurance at all.

If you or a member of your family is injured or gets sick while you’re out of the country, your provincial insurance isn’t going to be much help. Each province has its own rules for covering residents while they are out of the country, but it is only available under very limited circumstances and it won’t go very far. For example, Ontarians can expect to be reimbursed a whopping $50 for an emergency room visit while on vacation. If your vacation destination is the U.S., the bill to treat a sprained ankle could be over $1,000. A medical transport back to Canada can run tens of thousands of dollars.

Fifty whole dollars? You can almost take a cab to the emergency room with that!

Unexpected Costs Can Be Avoided

Your vacation should be a fun, relaxing time for your family. If you’re out of pocket for extra nights in a hotel because of bad weather, or worse still you’re in a financial pickle because of a medical emergency far from home, the decision to scrimp on travel insurance is quickly revealed as a poor one. You don’t need to pick the most expensive package you find. You can explore your options to find the one that best suits the needs of your family. If you plan far enough ahead, you can select a multi-trip policy that will cover you for the whole year. That’s peace of mind for a lot of vacation time. Get booking!

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