Credit card insurance – Limitations when traveling

5 July 2016

When you leave on your trip, do you think you are sufficiently insured by your credit card? The following are some explanations to fully understand the limitations of credit card insurance and the importance of taking out international travel insurance.

There are two types of benefits: non-medical benefits (luggage, cancellation, delay and civil responsibility) and medical benefits (death/disability, medical costs in case of accident or illness, medical repatriation, etc.)

Your credit card abroad

Each card has its special conditions. Make sure you understand the benefits/limitations of yours.

Ask the right questions

• Must you pay your trip in full with your credit card to take advantage of its coverage?
• Are you covered for pre-existing medical conditions?
• Does coverage vary according to age?
• What is the period of stability?
• What is the maximum amount of travel insurance coverage for medical costs?
• Is there a deductible to pay?
• If you decide to extend your stay, will your protection be extended?
• Are there conditions?
• What is the maximum number of days covered for a trip?
• Is the cancellation or trip interruption provided by the plan?

Who is covered by your credit card?

Most cards cover the cardholder, spouse and dependent children, meaning: your child or your grandchild or those of your spouse, being older than 15 days and younger than 18 years. If the child attends an educational institution, he will be considered in your charge if he is 24 years old or less. To be covered, you must travel with the cardholder.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for guarantees, you must generally have paid for your trip in full with the credit card (according to banks), and very often, these guarantees are optional, being a supplement, or can be limited to a maximum amount. It is essential, before paying for medical costs abroad, to make contact with the insurer. Otherwise, the insurer may decide to reduce the refund amount for the expenses that he has not authorized. Generally speaking, if your account is in arrears, you may not be eligible for guarantees.

Limitations for coverage

• You are covered only for your trips in which the duration is equal to or less than the number of days indicated on your credit card’s protection chart. For example, depending on your age, with Desjardins Odyssée credit card, a person who is 59 years-old or younger is entitled to 48 days of coverage; from 60 to 64 years, the maximum is 23 days; from 65 to 75 years, the maximum is 15 days; from 76 years and older, this card does not cover you for medical expenses.
• The amounts related to cancellation insurance are often fixed at a maximum amount, in several cases $2,000.
• Protection for baggage provides for compensation only in cases where luggage has been registered with a public transporter.
• It is not possible to cover your pre-existing health conditions that were not stable in the six months prior to your departure date.

The advantages of buying travel insurance with Escapade Travel Insurance

• You receive personalized coverage, advice and service from our expert consultants.
• The baggage insurance offers coverage for your personal items in case of theft, loss or damage during your trip and at destination.
• By subscribing to a cancellation guarantee, you are covered for a large number of cases for canceling your trip and the guarantee limits are much higher.
• You can be insured for your unstable health conditions.
• You can travel the number of days you wish, without limitations with respect to your age.

To learn more about credit card insurance

To learn more about guarantees and specific exclusions to your credit card, check your financial institution’s website, and more specifically their travel insurance section.

Best practices for a reporter on mission

5 July 2016

Many news agencies are mobilizing themselves in order to establish standards of protection and prevention of risks for freelance journalists which is used worldwide.

Over the past few years, violent kidnappings, attacks, abductions and injuries have increased in the field where journalists are covering international events. Reporters are prime targets for warring parties. The practice of independent journalism, similar to the profession of war correspondent, is subjected to growing, multi-directional risks.

The neutrality of reporters and photojournalists is undermined by local governments, warring parties and other groups in modern conflict zones. Impunity is unfortunately normal. Having little control over the principle of neutrality, independent journalists can work to reduce the risks and improve their preparation before departure.

1. Before any live reporting in a conflict zone or hostile environment, the reporter should acquire basic medical competency enabling him to provide first aid to himself or to one of his injured colleagues.

2. The reporter must be supplied with an adequate first aid kit. He must bring with him a reserve of medication with sufficient dosages to carry him through his reporting period. He must be aware of his own current health state, aware of his limits and evaluate his ability to fulfill his task at destination.

3. The reporter must remain up to date on the standards of diligence and safety on site whether physical or psychological. He must be informed of the associated risks in the areas visited and must take out insurance covering everything that has been subject to a travelers’ warning from the Minister of foreign affairs of his country.

4. The journalist going to conflict zone must be provided with bullet-proof protective clothing, specifically bullet-proof vests and helmets. He must wear them even if the situation on the field appears calm.

5. The journalist moving into conflict zone or a hostile environment must ensure that he has received training for working in a hostile environment which is recognized by the press industry.

6. The journalist must perform an in-depth evaluation of the risks involved and measure the journalistic value of a mission in terms of the risks involved. He must combine his knowledge of the field with that of other colleagues having recently made a visit to this area. Contacts on site, ambassadors and security personl are resources to seek out to protect oneself against the dangers of the places which will be visited.

7. The journalist must take the necessary steps to evaluate the translators and drivers who will accompany him on site.

8. The journalist must leave the contact details of his next of kin with the press agencies, and ensure that these nominated people have instructions and precise action plans in case of injury, abduction or death in the field. The reporter must inform his next of kin of the insurance that he has taken out in order that they may make claims in his name if need be.

9. The journalist must communicate regularly with his employer, with his next of kin or with another colleague of his exact location on a daily basis, as well as his program for the following day. This information is crucial in case of kidnapping.

The list of actions is not exhaustive but offers basic preparation which should be included in the process before departure.

Demystifying yellow fever when traveling

5 July 2016

If you anticipate traveling to a tropical zone in a Latin American or an African country, vaccination against yellow fever will probably be a requirement in the countries you will be visiting. Protecting oneself against yellow fever by a vaccine should be carried out at least 10 days before your departure in order to be effective. Yellow fever is a disease caused by the Amaril virus which is transmitted from a bite of an infected mosquito. It takes its name from the yellowing of the skin and eyes which occurs when the virus attacks the liver.

Yellow fever is endemic in several countries. To be admitted to their territories, certain countries therefore require the presentation of an international certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. According to WHO, every year yellow fever affects around 200 000 people and will be the cause of 30 000 deaths. During the preparation of your trip, check if a yellow fever vaccination is necessary.

How does one identify the symptoms of yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a virus which, like malaria, is transmitted from bites by mosquitoes carrying the virus. These infected mosquitoes, of the Aedes and Haemogogus types, are responsible for the transmission of the disease. They normally bite during the day, especially at sunrise and sunset.

After an incubation of seven days on average, the first symptoms of yellow fever will manifest. The body becomes feverish. Muscular pain, shivers and headaches are felt by the person who has contracted the disease. These symptoms are similar to other viral-type infections. In its early stages, it is difficult to diagnose yellow fever. In severe cases, yellow fever evolves to a second phase which can be fatal. Acute symptoms are vomiting, a yellow complexion, hemorrhagic syndrome or even kidney problems.

Where does yellow fever strike?

Africa is the continent most affected presenting each year more cases of infection. The disease also occurs in South America. In total, there are 44 countries in which more or less elevated risk of yellow fever transmission is identified.

Endemic zones in Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Togo.

Endemic zones in South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Vaccination against yellow fever

Vaccination is currently the best means of protecting oneself against yellow fever. The centers for vaccination against yellow fever have been designated by the Public Health Agency of Canada for Canada in order to satisfy the requirements of the International Health Regulations (IHR).

It is recommended to renew the vaccination every 10 years. The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended for children under 9 months, pregnant women, people with serious immune-deficiencies and people with serious allergies to egg protein.

International certificate of vaccination

Customs authorities in certain African countries require every traveler to present an International certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis upon arrival, which is valid for 10 years. This certificate is issued when you are vaccinated against yellow fever.

Currently, 20 countries that systematically require proof of yellow fever vaccination are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, French Guiana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Sierra Leone and Togo.

In several other countries, travelers from countries where a risk of yellow fever transmission already exists must also provide an International certificate of vaccination.

To see what an International certificate of vaccination looks like, find the document provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Traveling abroad with cell phones

5 July 2016

The cell phone became an essential item of the daily life and now travels with you anywhere you go. It allows you to stay in touch with family and friends while abroad but traveling abroad with your cell phone can also lead to unexpected expenses, especially for smartphone users.

Many features and applications can be very costly. On the other hand, the cell phone gives you peace of mind in the event of a need for assistance. How can you make the most of your trip without generating a large bill?

Customized packages and effective settings

The first things to check are the conditions for using your cell abroad. Your provider may offer you a package that will be adapted to the country you will be traveling to. Once you’ve reached your destination, try to avoid the use of internet or uploading data because it can drive up your bill quickly. Instead, enable the Wi-Fi connection from your smart phone and disable the 3G connection. By doing that, you will benefit from the available local networks while reducing the use of data. Beware of incoming calls, you may be charged if someone calls you.

Practical alternatives

How to avoid unpleasant surprises? For smartphone users, applications such as Skype, Viber or Facetime allows you to call free of charge. For phones without these advanced features, you might consider sending a text message instead: it costs less than a long-distance call and allows you to communicate quickly. There are also phone cards, usually easy to find in major city centers. Finally, if your phone is unlocked, you have the option to purchase a local SIM card.

Tips before you leave

• Save your travel insurance policy number and the assistance center’s phone number in your phone.
• Also save the phone number of the person you wish to be reached in case of an emergency.

Be vigilant and beware of pickpockets.

For more information about travels with cellphones

Please consult this international cell phone guide.

Trip cancellation insurance

5 July 2016

Trip cancellation insurance covers the non-refundable portion of your travel expenses if an unavoidable situation beyond your control force you to cancel your trip. Your vacation is scheduled to begin in 3 weeks and your trip has already been paid for, but there is an incident, an illness or a death in the family… Obviously, you can no longer leave and you would like to be refunded. What are the advantages of taking out a trip cancellation insurance?

What is the purpose of a trip cancellation insurance?

You have put a lot of time into preparing for your trip but you must unfortunately cancel. It is a great disappointment and add to this the impact of non-refundable cancellation fees by the wholesaler or airline. The amount of the cancellation fees varies from company to company and the closer you approach your departure date, the more limited your refund will be. It is therefore very important to notify the company of your need to cancel as soon as possible.

There are several cancellation grades which vary according to agencies, tour operators and airline companies. Refer to your contract to find out the exact terms and specific conditions. The following is an example of cancellation fees which could be applied by a wholesaler:

• Non-refundable deposit
• 44 to 30 days before departure: 50%
• 29 to 7 days before departure: 75%
• 6 days and less before departure: 100%

The purpose of cancellation insurance is to obtain a refund of expenses that the wholesaler, travel agency or airline will not reimburse.

Example: You buy a group trip at a price of $2,600. You fall ill 8 days before departure. The wholesaler will reimburse only 75% of the cost that you have paid, that is $1,950. The insurance will reimburse you the full cancellation fees retained by the wholesaler which is $650. You will therefore recover everything that you paid.

Warning: In the case of purchasing plane tickets, the penalties are 100% and often at time of booking. For cruises, the cancellation fees often begin more than 3 months from departure!

What is covered by the trip cancellation insurance?

What is considered as ground for cancellation varies from one contract to another. This is why it is very important that you read the guarantees and exclusions! The following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons for cancellation which are often covered:

• Death of family member;
• Illness or injury;
• Damage occurs to your home or place of business;
• An official notice from the Canadian government not to enter a particular region or country;
• Visa application denied;
• New job;
• Passport or plane tickets stolen…

It is important to declare your cancellation quickly, generally the same day or within 5 days following the reason for cancellation. The insurer will ask you to provide proof of your inability to travel: medical or death certificate, confirmation from your employer…

How to get a trip cancellation insurance?

Cancellation insurance is often available directly with the travel agency or on the tour operator’s website when purchasing. The cost of insurance is proportional to the amount that you insured and may vary according to your age. Although this type of insurance is offered by the travel agency or the tour operator, the premium is not necessarily the best on the market. You can decline their offer and compare cancellation insurance solutions which are available with specialists such as Escapade Travel Insurance.

The causes of cancellation are only covered after subscription to the insurance contract, so it is in your best interests to buy your insurance as soon as possible after purchasing your trip. There is also the All-Inclusive insurance which offers coverage for medical costs, luggage and cancellation. It may be beneficial for you to contact one of our advisors about these products.

Credit card coverage against trip cancellation

Only a few “high end” cards offer protection in cases of trip cancellation. Generally, guarantees cover you in cases of health problems which prevent you from traveling, in cases of death of a family member or serious damage to your home. For all other cases, your credit card cancellation insurance may not be valid. It could also have a refund limit, so if the cost of your trip exceeds the fixed limit, you could lose the excess amount. Credit card insurance are not always sufficient, or even non-existant.

Remember to check these details and compare the guarantees with the cancellation insurance Escapade Travel Insurance offers.

For more information on trip cancellation insurance

Other tips for travelers are available on the Consumer Protection Office website.

Your travel insurance coverage abroad

5 July 2016

When you leave your province of residence, you are no longer covered by your provincial health insurance plan. In case of an accident or an illness abroad, you will have peace of mind if you have purchased travel insurance prior to departure. We recommend you to call one of our representatives who will advise you on the best travel insurance policy suited to your situation.

Why purchase travel insurance?

1- Your provincial health coverage does not protect you while abroad

Provincial health insurance plans cover only a small portion of the medical expenses abroad. If you do not take private insurance, you will have to advance the costs and wait for an eventual refund. It’s always better to purchase travel insurance before departure and protect your health as well as your finances.

2- Your collective insurance plan or credit card might not protect you entirely

Inform yourself on the periods of coverage and the limitations of your Collective or your credit card insurance plan. If you decide to extend your stay, could your coverage be extended? Guarantees may be limited and some of your health conditions may be excluded. Check if the coverage excludes emergency medical care due to preexisting conditions or conditions related to the use of a new medication.

3- Access to health care in some countries

Did you know that:

• Hospitalization in the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
• Depending on the country, access to health care in the public sector can take several days or even weeks.
• Some hospitals require that you submit your credit card as a guarantee before they start giving you medical attention.
• The failing healthcare infrastructures in some countries encourage people to turn to expensive private clinics.

What are the guarantees of emergency medical insurance?

For an accident as well as for a disease, you can count on coverage for all the following expenses:
• Hospitalization
• Physician Fees
• Diagnostic services recommended by a physician (laboratory, x-ray, etc.)
• Paramedical health services
• Prescription drugs
• Dental Care
• Repatriation in case of death

To find out more about your travel insurance coverage

Contact one of our consultants and benefit from our expertise or consult the Guide to Travel Health Insurance offered by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA).