Steer Clear of Hefty Hospital Bills When You Travel

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Exploring countries like Vietnam, Morocco, Cuba, Costa Rica or France by motorcycle or scooter is a great idea! But make sure you are covered by your travel insurance.

Scooter, motorcycle, moped, vespa, or bicycle — the choices can be endless when choosing a two-wheeled ride for your overseas holiday. There are a lot of reasons renting one is a great when you travel. It’s affordable, convenient and maneuverable, and they all get good gas mileage. Parking is a breeze, and you have the freedom to go at your own pace. You can travel like a local, and it’s thrilling becoming part of the scene itself instead of watching the landscapes and culture pass by through a window as you ride through the land.

But it’s strange how we tend to throw caution to the wind when on holiday. With absolutely no training or experience at home, many of us seem to think we’ll master the skills of riding on the spot in a foreign country.

Make sure you are licensed

If you DO have a valid motorcycle license, be thrilled — but consider getting an International Driver’s Permit (see below).

If you are NOT covered by a Class M license to ride a motorcycle or scooter in Canada, you are not permitted to do so overseas. You may be tempted to tick the box when you rent your vehicle, and be able to fool a traffic cop, but it won’t cut the mustard with your travel insurance company.

Consider what can happen

In the past few years, many Canadians have experienced the financial impact of uninsured accidents.

Matt and Ashley, a Calgary couple, crashed, skidding along rocks and pavement and needed debridement (removal of debris) surgery for over one week, costing $2,200 per day. They could not fly home for at least two weeks, and needed upgraded seats to reduce their discomfort due to their serious wounds.

Kieran, a University of Toronto grad, suffered life-altering circumstances and faced roughly $70,000 in hospital bills after his accident.

How travel insurance works

To be covered, you must take all the usual safety precautions when riding a motorcycle and you must be legally allowed to ride in the relevant country.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident and hurt yourself while riding, you will be covered for

  • evacuation if it’s urgent and medically necessary (by the most appropriate means, including helicopter, when necessary and available).
  • emergency medical expenses for treatment at the hospital or by a doctor at the local medical centre; and/or
  • repatriation if you’re seriously ill or injured and unable to continue your trip.

Should you require transportation to an appropriate medical facility to treat your injury, your policy will cover the reasonable and necessary transportation costs when pre-approved and arranged by your insurer’s medical department.

Who pays for medical treatment depends on what’s happened to you and the treatment required.

Steer clear of risks

Travel insurance policies exist to cover you for unforeseen events, not situations where risk is rife.

While we’d all prefer to bring home happy memories as opposed to broken bones, the cost of a hospital trip overseas can send your budget (not to mention your stress levels) skyrocketing.

Even with travel medical insurance in place, exclusions still apply. You are not covered

  • If you are racing and intentionally putting yourself at risk
    Any time you intentionally put yourself in danger, such as using your vehicle for jumps, stunts and tricks and injure yourself (especially if you are not wearing a helmet at the time), you are unlikely to be covered.
  • For competitive or professional riding
    Competitive riding of any sort is generally not a covered event under standard travel insurance policies.
  • If you do not follow the rules of road
    Always follow road signs including traffic lights and stop signs, and give way.
  • If you are under the influence
    You would not be covered if you were driving and had an accident while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If you do not wear a helmet
    Cut and bruises are not ideal travelling companions so make sure you wear a helmet at all times. Don’t be like most tourists when a helmet isn’t offered with the rental and shrug, climb on board the rickety wreck with a slightly flat tire and speed off. A helmet is more important than the precaution of putting on sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.
  • Anything else that’s listed in the exclusions on the policy.

Consider obtaining an International Drivers Permit

An International Driving Permit, or IDP, is a special driver’s license that allows licensed motorists to drive in other countries without further tests or applications. It is proof that the holder possesses a valid driver’s G or M license, issued by a competent authority, in his or her country of residence. The IDP provides you with additional photo identification and includes a multilingual translation of your valid Canadian driver’s license. You must contact the Canadian Automobile Association to apply for an IDP.

A Canadian IDP is only valid outside Canada and is valid for only one year from the date of issue. You must reapply if you need another one.

What else should you do before you scoot?

Taking the time to find the right travel insurance policy for your vacation can give you peace of mind — not to mention a smooth, hassle-free ride.​

Contact SBIS before you purchase travel insurance for your vacation if you’re uncertain about the policy details. It often pays to take a few minutes to make that short phone call to clarify. When riding on two wheels away from home you are taking risks with both your health and your money. Let us help you do your research and compare travel insurance quotes and coverage levels to get the protection that’s right for you.


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