Employee Travel Insurance Coverage – What you need to know.

4 min read

Do you have employee travel insurance coverage included in your group benefits plan?  Awesome! Most employee benefits plans include this important benefit to support you in case you or your dependents experience an emergency medical issue while traveling.  Having employee travel coverage gives you peace of mind and saves you the cost of securing your own travel insurance when you take a well-deserved vacation.  But before you completely relax, dreaming of your next trip, there are a few key things you should know about your travel coverage: what’s included, what’s not, and how to make sure you’re fully covered.

Check your Employee Travel Insurance before you go.

Your employee travel policy typically mirrors the coverage that you would purchase on your own. But you should always check your plan info before travelling to make sure you fully understand your coverage. Employees sometimes don’t realize that just like a purchased plan, your employee travel coverage can have exclusions, and pre-existing conditions can be a factor. Understanding your plan, especially if you have been recently treated for any medical conditions, is critical to understanding if it’s safe for you to travel, and what will be covered in an emergency.

Do you need more than one plan?

The  travel coverage in your benefits plan is likely all that you need.  However, there may be cases when you may need more than one plan. Check your plan to see the amount you are covered for, as well as how many consecutive days of travel it covers. If it does not cover your entire trip, you can purchase coverage for the extra days before you leave.

You should also be aware that there can be problems with claims if you have more than one provider – usually, you can only send a claim to one of them. This means if your plan coverage amount seems inadequate to you, you should purchase a plan with higher coverage, and not assume that you can combine the two plans.

What does Employee Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance is for immediate medical treatment of a sudden, unanticipated injury or illness, or a new medical condition that occurs while you and/or your dependents are travelling outside your province of residence. It can also cover specific chronic medical issues that are considered medically stable prior to your departure. Travel coverage can vary between providers, but

usually covers accidents and unanticipated illness or disease.  Related emergency medical assistance at a hospital or clinic, prescription drugs, diagnostic services, and medical evacuation are normally included in this benefit.

Pre-existing Conditions

Travel coverage will usually have a medically stable, or pre-existing condition clause. A pre-existing condition could void your coverage unless your condition is considered is a chronic issue that is considered to be medically stable. Medically stable means that you have not had treatments or tests for new symptoms or conditions within the 90 days before departing. It also means that you have not had any changes in your treatments or medications; you have not been admitted to the hospital for treatment or tests; and you are not scheduling non-routine appointments, tests, or treatments for an undiagnosed condition.

Typical Exclusions

Along with the limitations on pre-existing conditions, carriers normally specify a list of exclusions which will void your health insurance coverage.  Before you travel you should make sure you understand the exclusions listed by your provider. Here are some typical exclusions:

  • Travel to countries with government issued travel advisories
  • Complications during the last months of pregnancy
  • Non-emergency healthcare that is available at home
  • High risk activities like bungee jumping, zip lining, scuba diving, or rock climbing
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Accidents or illness from alcohol or drug abuse
  • Injuries sustained while committing a crime

Make sure to check your policy to see if these, or other exclusions apply in your case.

Maintaining your Provincial Health Plan Coverage

The majority of employee travel coverage policies require that you also have valid provincial health plan coverage.  For most Canadians, provincial health care coverage is ongoing (even when there is failure to pay premiums, if they apply in your province); however, your provincial health care plan may have a provincial residency requirement. If you are new to a province, or have been absent from Canada long enough to lose your coverage temporarily, you should review the rules of your plan to see if it will still cover you.  If for some reason you’re not covered, don’t despair, “expat” travel insurance policies exist, and although they may cost slightly more, you can still be covered for your travels.

Making a claim

The key thing to remember about your travel insurance is that you must always call your travel insurance provider from your place of travel to report a claim. Ideally, you should call prior to receiving treatment, however, in some cases, this may not be possible. Even if you have a minor visit to a clinic and pay the small cost yourself, you must call the travel provider to let them know as soon as possible; if you wait until you get home, your insurance provider will not consider it a travel claim. Besides the requirement, there are additional benefits to contacting your employee travel insurance provider before or during an emergency abroad.  Your travel insurance provider can normally provide assistance recommending clinics or medical professionals nearby, and/or liaise with professionals in the local language. Depending on the country, and your particular provider, they may be able to make direct payments for any services you need to access.

Now you know what you need to research before your trip, and what to do in case of a medical emergency on your trip. You can call your travel insurance provider to ask questions at any time before you go to get clarification on your coverage. 

Before you leave, make sure you have your travel insurance plan wallet card with you, and keep it with you at all times while you’re travelling. The wallet card includes your insurance providers contact information in case of an emergency. If you’re travelling with others, make sure your travel companions know where to find this information, and also leave a copy of the information with any emergency contacts at home. For added safety and support while you travel, you may also want to use the Government of Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad Service. And make sure to carry the contact info of the closest Canadian embassy, or consulate in the country you plan to travel to.

Wishing you safe and happy travels!

And don’t forget to get in touch with us if you’re looking for a benefits plan for your business!