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Travel Insurance Destination Guide

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Every year, tens of thousands of Canadians make an escape for parts of the world that are warmer than here in the month of March. In fact, even though the weakened Canadian dollar has affected the vacation plans of some would-be travellers, there are many ways to work around the financial hit of currency fluctuations.

It seems the only real limit is deciding where to go for a March Break vacation. Of course you know that the most important thing you can pack for your trip is a travel insurance policy that can help protect your family financially if you are sick or injured while away.

You must always check with your travel insurance broker for guidance regarding your personal insurance needs, and to review any special considerations for your travel destination of choice. With that in mind, here is a March Break travel insurance destination guide. Please keep in mind that this guide is a general overview of the kinds of things you should bear in mind when booking a vacation and purchasing travel insurance.

Your Adventure Destination Guide

One of the greatest things about travel is the ability to try new things that you would never be able to do at home. There is something about being far from home that brings out our inner daredevil. Unfortunately, for some of us, these relaxed inhibitions come with some serious consequences for our physical and financial well-being.

The popularity of adventure travel has skyrocketed in recent years. With the stunning vistas you can take in during your travels, we don’t blame you for being tempted!

But, did you know that if you get hurt while participating in extreme sports, you may void your travel insurance policy? That means you won’t have any coverage to treat injuries sustained during activities like scuba diving, skydiving, rock or mountain climbing, bungee jumping or motor racing.

And that’s not the whole list! Some might say that any activity you take part in while travelling comes with some risk, and that’s very true. But not every activity is detailed in the exclusions section of your insurance documentation.

The moral of this story is that you should always check the details of your travel insurance policy before taking part in any extreme sports activities. If you have any questions about the fine print, consult your insurance broker for a detailed explanation of what is, and isn’t, a covered activity while on vacation.

Check with Your Local Travel Vaccine Clinic

There is one bonus to the cold temperatures that we experience every winter in Canada: it makes this country a terrible place for many viruses to survive and spread. Other parts of the world are blessed with much warmer climes, but it comes at a price.

Before you head out of the country to an exotic locale, be sure to consult with your local travel clinic or family doctor to see if any additional vaccines are recommended for your destination.

Specific recommendations will vary based on any current conditions that are prevalent in the area you plan to visit on your holiday. Many vaccine-preventable viruses are common in places outside of Canada. A very short list includes cholera, hepatitis, typhoid fever and yellow fever. Because these conditions aren’t widely seen in Canada, they do not form part of our usual vaccination schedule.

The Government of Canada has a website that outlines some the common health considerations, including vaccines, which you should take into account before venturing out of the country. Be sure to consult this website, and your travel insurance broker, before every trip for specific recommendations about your travel health needs.

Expectant Mothers: Avoid Areas Affected by the Zika Virus

By now, you have no doubt heard about the Zika virus that is affecting multiple countries at this time. Zika virus (ZIKV) is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most healthy adults and children don’t experience any symptoms of this illness. Even pregnant women who contract the virus don’t report any ill effects. However, it’s possible the virus can have extremely damaging consequences for a developing fetus.

If you are an expectant mother, or you suspect you may be pregnant, the safest choice is to avoid all areas that are currently affected by the Zika virus. At the time of this writing, areas with widespread areas of active cases of the Zika virus include:

  • Central America
  • The Caribbean
  • The Pacific Islands, including Hawaii
  • South America, with an area of high concentration in Brazil

Please note that this situation is unfolding rapidly, and other countries could report a Zika outbreak at any time. The safest choice for expectant mothers would be to stay close to home until more information becomes available. As mosquito-borne viral outbreaks can spread quickly, it’s a classic case of “it’s better to be safe than sorry” when it comes travelling to areas affected by the type of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is suspected to be associated with severe and damaging birth defects when it passes from a mother to her developing fetus. If you are pregnant, or suspect you may become pregnant shortly, and travel to an affected area is indeed unavoidable, please speak to your doctor about ways to protect yourself and your child from the virus. Please read the special statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada on the Zika virus for more information.

If a Hawaiian vacation is on your wish list this year, you may want to put it on the back burner for the time being. In addition to an active outbreak of the Zika virus, the state of Hawaii has declared a state of emergency because of dengue fever, another mosquito-borne condition.

Unavoidable Factors that Can Disrupt Travel Plans

We all know that we need travel insurance to provide financial protection if we get sick or injured on vacation. But many other circumstances crop up that can put a serious damper on your March Break vacation plans. For example, how familiar are you with the weather forecast and labour conditions of your travel destination?

At the time of this writing, pilots at Air Transat have voted in favour of a labour disruption that may affect the March Break travel plans of tens of thousands of Canadians. But, if you have purchased travel insurance, you’re covered if your trip gets cancelled by a strike by airline employees, right? The answer is a definite maybe.

There are a lot of misconceptions about exactly what an airline or travel tour provider is responsible for when you purchase a flight or a vacation package. The Canadian government has prepared some information on air passenger rights, but you may be surprised by what is NOT covered by the policy. Specifically, you should keep in mind that the airlines don’t have any more control over the weather than you do! 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.”

Simply put, if you are stuck in your destination due to any of those conditions, you’re on your own if you didn’t purchase adequate insurance coverage. You can expect to pay for meals, hotels and any other expenses you incur while you wait for the adverse conditions to change. That’s probably not a problem if you have to buy a snack for a delay that lasts a few hours. But in the event of a labour dispute or severe weather event, it could be a matter of days. If that doesn’t make you check the specifics of your travel insurance policy, we don’t know what will!

A change in March Break travel plans doesn’t have to break the bank. Be sure to consult with a travel insurance specialist to find out if your policy helps to protect more than your health while you’re on vacation.

Choose to Work with a Travel Insurance Specialist

Every day, far too many people leave on a trip outside Canada without any kind of travel coverage. Thankfully, the importance of carrying travel insurance has finally started to catch on. It has become so popular, in fact, that many travel agencies include optional travel insurance with each vacation package.

The trouble is, while travel agents are very knowledgeable about travel and destinations, they’re not insurance experts. Usually, these policies are offered through one insurance carrier only, and because of the markup by the travel agency, they can be more expensive than what you could find yourself by completing an online travel insurance application form. They also only cover a single vacation, when other travel insurance options can include multiple trips.

When you choose to work with an insurance broker who specializes in travel insurance, you can be assured that you are getting the best possible coverage for your needs. A broker will help you decide if a single-trip policy will work for your journey, or if it would be more economical to select a multi-trip travel insurance plan to cover all of your trips outside the country or outside the province in a 12-month period.

Even though winter has been pretty mild in many parts of Canada this year, getting away for March Break is a rite of passage. Make a call to one of our friendly, knowledgeable customer service agents to arrange travel insurance. It can help ensure that, with of all the things you have to worry about when heading far away from home, paying for treatment if you get sick or injured while far from home isn’t one of them!

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