Tropical Diseases: What You Need to Know About Dengue

4 December 2017

What’s worse: a mosquito or a Great White shark? For starters, the chances of getting bit by a mosquito are much higher than being bit by a shark. Furthermore, in the last few decades, mosquitoes have been recognized as one of the deadliest animals on the planet. In non-tropical environment, they might seem quite harmless (albeit very annoying), but in the majority of the world, they are known for spreading deadly diseases.

This doesn’t mean that one should stay at home with their windows tightly shut to avoid any contact with mosquitoes. Rather, it’s best to be well informed and use caution, especially when visiting an at-risk country.

What Is Dengue?

Dengue is a tropical disease transmitted by a mosquito carrying one of four dengue viruses, which can cause flu-like symptoms. It can take three to fourteen days, after the initial bite, to develop symptoms of the virus. In its worst case, dengue can occasionally evolve into severe hemorrhagic dengue.

Where is Dengue Endemic?

According to the Travel health and safety guidelines issued by the Government of Canada, dengue “is widespread in regions of Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania.”

Mosquitoes transmitting the virus can usually be found in urban and suburban areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that “40% of the world’s population lives in areas where there is a risk of dengue transmission.” A visit to a travel clinic prior to departure will provide you with the details of at-risk zones and advisories based on your health condition.

How to Prevent Dengue?

Unlike Malaria, there are no known immunizations (vaccines or medication) against dengue. Without resorting to paranoia every time one gets a mosquito bite, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting bit in the first place.

– Cover yourself:
Wear pale, loose-fitting clothing that cover the entire body during peak mosquito periods. Wear closed shoes and a scarf if necessary.
– Avoid certain times of the day:
With mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, this means the time around sunrise and sunset. During those times, stay indoors or wear appropriate clothing.
– Stay in places with air conditioning:
If available, pick a room with A/C, which is normally more sealed. Otherwise, make sure that windows have screens and sleep under a bed net for added protection (check ahead of time if your accommodation can provide you with one).
– Wear DEET insect repellent:
Although many prefer more natural repellents, DEET is known to be the most effective and powerful against mosquito bites. It should only be applied on exposed skin. Alternatively, you can try picaridin which is safer to use on children.
– Stay away from areas where there is standing water:
Mosquitoes lay eggs and spread in areas with standing water such as ponds, kids pool, buckets, flower vases or containers filled with rain water. What can be emptied should always be taken care of to avoid infestation.
– Keep a good air circulation:
Because mosquitoes are not very strong, any breeze or wind is likely to keep them away. It’s advisable to have a fan in the bedroom or other communal rooms.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Dengue?

In mild cases of dengue, symptoms can last from two to seven days. Anyone who has ever contracted the virus will agree that dengue feels like being hit by a train. The symptoms to look out for, especially after having been bit by a mosquito in an at-risk area, are:
– High fever (anything over 38.5 °C should be considered serious)
– Intense headache
– Pain behind the eyes
– Joint, muscle or bone pain
– Fatigue (which can in time lead to lethargy)
– Nausea (also causing vomiting)
– Skin rash (usually on the abdomen)
– Mild bleeding in some more severe cases

If those symptoms persist for more than three days, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately.

How to Treat Dengue?

Unfortunately, there are no treatments available for a dengue infection. A doctor’s visit with appropriate testing will confirm if the disease has been contracted or not. As a side note, make sure to have adequate travel insurance before consulting a doctor abroad. Even getting a simple IV to treat dehydration caused by the virus could lead up to substantial fees. Get travel insurance for your upcoming trip now.

Dengue symptoms can be alleviated by taking pain killers, keeping hydrated and resting. Stay clear of tablets such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) which can have adverse effects with symptoms of dengue. Instead, to relieve the fever and the pain, use Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Consult a pharmacist or doctor if in doubt.

Given the widespread of dengue, it would be unfortunate to avoid travelling altogether. By following these precautions, knowing how to identify the symptoms and taking the necessary measures if the virus is contracted, it is not only possible but still safe to explore the world around us. Put your trousers and long sleeve, spray some mosquito repellent and go enjoy that beautiful sunset!

“Dengue Fever.” Government of Canada, May 3, 2016, travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/diseases/dengue. Accessed June 23, 2017.

“Dengue – Epidemiology.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 9, 2014, www.cdc.gov/dengue/epidemiology/index.html. Accessed June 23, 2017.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance

12 September 2017

To get or not to get travel insurance, that is the question. As many people start planning their trip, whether during the budgeting phase or as a last-minute decision, the consideration of subscribing to a travel insurance will inevitably pop up.

Some might view it as an unnecessary cost because they are only taking a short trip, they are in good health, they won’t engage in “at-risk activities” or any other excuse they might come up with. Not only is this foolish, but the sole reason for having an insurance is to cover you in case of an unpredictable event. Now that it’s established that one should not travel without a proper travel insurance, how does one make an informed decision with all the questions that it raises?

Here are the Most Common Questions Regarding Travel Insurance:

Is Travel Insurance Mandatory?

Normally, travel insurance is not necessary to enter a country on a tourist visa. The best is to research the entry requirements ahead of time to confirm this information. However, in order to apply for certain types of visas, like a Working Holiday Visa for instance, you might have to show proof of travel insurance to be granted the visa.

In any case, having travel insurance might not be mandatory, but it is highly recommended. It’s the kind of purchase you won’t think is necessary until you actually need it. Make sure to get your travel insurance now for your next trip.

Travellers needing a visa to enter European countries in the Schengen area are required to purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros. This requirement does not apply to Canadian travellers.

What Types of Travel Insurance Are There?

There are many types of insurance available to fit different situations and travel styles. A call with your travel insurance agent will be the best option to assess your needs. Basically, there are four major pillars to travel insurance: Travel Health Insurance, Medical Evacuation Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance and Baggage/Property Insurance. Some packages will also offer additional coverage for flight delay, accident or personal civil liability.

What Is Not Covered by Travel Insurance?

No one wants to read through an insurance policy! However, there are things that will definitely not be covered by your travel insurance if you make a claim such as: failure to declare pre-existing medical conditions (ex. Chronic ailments, pregnancy or any disease which was not contracted while travelling), failure to involve the police or show proof of ownership in the event of theft or loss, any accident that occurred while intoxicated, travelling through a high-risk zone, engaging in certain extreme sports, etc. Make sure to contact your travel insurance agent to validate the exclusions, conditions and limitations of your policy.

Am I Already Covered by My Credit Card Company?

Travel insurance issued by credit card companies should be regarded with caution. It is really important to understand the contract and its limitation. Some cards will cover trips up to a certain number of days while others will only cover purchases (ex. Flights, hotel reservations, etc.) made with the credit card. By having a good comprehension of your policy, you might find that it requires an additional complementary coverage from an external travel insurance company.

Nowadays it is less common to get coverage for flight accident through credit cards. Only all-inclusive packages provided through your travel insurance broker or through an insurance company directly will guarantee this additional coverage.

When Should I Subscribe to a Travel Insurance?

No matter what the type of insurance you wish to obtain, it should be purchased when the travel plans are official or money towards the trip has been spent on transportation or accommodation. Perhaps getting a travel insurance quote should be on the same level of priority as checking for flights or booking a hotel.

How Much Does It Cost?

This varies greatly based on the age of each traveller, the length of the trip, the type of travel/traveller (e.g. expatriate, snowbird, exchange student, etc.), the destinations (including or excluding Canada/USA) and the health condition of the person insured.

When planning your travel budget, you should not neglect the importance of getting a travel insurance. If you think you don’t have enough money for it then maybe you should not travel in the first place. Having to pay for emergency medical services without having a proper insurance can potentially mortgage your future. For a few dollars a day, it’s very little paid to have peace of mind.

Travelling, as much as it is a wonderful experience, should not be a source of stress. Getting a travel insurance before your trip will help lift the pressure off your shoulder and allow you to relax during your holiday.

Consulting a doctor abroad

18 April 2017

When traveling, you want to visit lots of places… except the doctor’s office! But events shape the adventure and sometimes you can get ill on the road. Whatever the cause, you must always be prepared to handle any health problems abroad.

Before consulting a doctor

Call your insurance company if you are able to do so and ask them to refer you to a hospital or international clinic near you. You’re insured and the recommended locations meet Western standards. In addition, some medical centers are connected directly with the insurance companies and could prevent you from having to pay for medical expenses. If you are not able to call your insurance company, ask at the clinic where you are admitted to make an agreement with your insurer by giving them a copy of your insurance certificate.

Be careful if you are offered to visit the doctor at the hotel where you reside. You must make sure it is professional and not the shaman of the village. Insist on going to a recognized medical center.

Beware of anyone who offers you drugs to relieve yourself without being a doctor or a qualified pharmacist, including other travelers. Although people mean well, they lack the skills to diagnose you. Seemingly innocuous medication such as Advil or Aspirin can have adverse effects on your health and even dangerous in case of dengue (tropical fever), for example.

Make sure that you go to walk-in clinic or accept emergency treatment.

Prepare a list of your symptoms in order of their appearance. Note also the duration of each symptom. (For example, I had a fever for 24 hours, followed by mild vomiting which has intensified, etc.)

If you do not speak the language, try to find a “friend” who speaks the local language to accompany you. You can gently ask someone who works at the hotel where you stay to go with you to the clinic. If this is not possible, bring a dictionary or a translation phone app with you.

During the consultation with the doctor

Inform the doctor or pharmacist abroad of the medications that you take regularly (ideally, bring them with you to show him the names on the labels.)

Do not forget to mention your allergies. If you have significant allergies, you can prepare a list in advance with a translation of your list of allergies in the language of the country you visit.

Remember that the doctor you visit abroad has no access to your medical history, it is your responsibility to make them aware of your medical history.

Pay attention to medications that you are prescribed. Make sure you understand the reason for each drug. Ask the professional to repeat and take notes if necessary.

After seeing the doctor

Always keep your receipts for medical treatment and medicines. These will be crucial documents to accompany your claim.

Request a second opinion if an operation or surgery is recommended and if your situation allows. Call your insurance company to ensure that this operation will be covered.

Contact your family doctor by phone or a doctor from your country in case of doubt of treatment.

Finish your treatment in full even if you feel better. Some people stop taking antibiotics as soon as the symptoms disappear. The bacteria that fights you may be active in your body and could come back stronger than ever. Strictly follow the treatment dose you start.

To speed your recovery
, settle down in a comfortable place, even change hostel and pay a little more for somewhere clean, airy and accommodation with air conditioning, example.

You have to put the odds on your side and create a relaxing and familiar environment. Remain hydrated by drinking water and trying to take your mind off it by reading a novel or watching a film. Wash your hands regularly so as not to contaminate you again or catch another disease. It is important not to be stressed or to go read horror stories on the Internet. Sometimes talking to relatives at home can be comforting. Remain positive and return and consult a doctor if necessary.

By following these rules, you maximize the chances of receiving quality medical consultation abroad
and being ready to continue your journey. After all, you’re not the first person to fall ill while traveling, it will pass!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Smartphone or Camera? What to Bring While Travelling?

20 February 2017

When preparing for a trip, the question that will always arise is “what to bring?” It takes a wizard to nail down the perfect packing list without forgetting any of the essentials. Recently, it seems as though there is another great dilemma when it comes to travelling and it’s whether to pack a camera or can a smartphone do the job.

It would be an understatement to say that the use of smartphones has revolutionized the way we travel. From the palm of our hands, we have access to maps, foreign currency converters and translating tools, all while being connected from almost everywhere in the world. The most enticing features of smartphones is undoubtedly the camera which delivers spectacular photo quality. In that case, many would ask if it’s still necessary to bring a camera while travelling or can you achieve the same results, simply with a smartphone.

Factors to Consider Before Taking a Decision

1. The place visited: Some destinations are a lot more photogenic than others and the camera of a smartphone alone would not give justice to the beauty of the place. For instance, it would be highly recommended to use proper camera equipment to shoot the dancing colors of the Northern Lights in Iceland or tracking lions in the African savannah during a safari.
2. The space available: The growing popularity of low-cost airlines has forced many people to travel with only a carry-on (10 to 12 kg) in order to reduce the costs of checking in luggage. For amateur photographers, the weight limitation can be quite restrictive considering all the gear they need to bring like extra lenses, spare batteries and all the other camera accessories.
3. The purpose of the trip: For the majority of people, taking travel pictures is a great way to save memories and share those moments with friends and family at home. For some, photography is the main reason to travel. In such cases, different equipment will be required.

To facilitate the decision process, here is a list of pros and cons to using either a camera or a smartphone while travelling.

Camera—Pros:
• Unlimited storage space with the use of multiple memory cards
• Extended battery life
• Superior quality because of the options available in manual mode and the higher resolution
• Better capacity to take pictures in difficult environment such as low-light, action shots or distance shots

Camera—Cons:
• Slow learning curve before achieving satisfying results
• More cumbersome to use, which makes it less practical
• Requires another device in order to edit, transfer or share the pictures

Smartphone—Pros:
• Very user-friendly even for people with not photography skills
• Image quality good enough to be used on social media
• Possibility to edit directly from the device
• Small, light, accessible and almost always at hand’s reach
• Apps and accessories available to improve the performance of the camera function

Smartphone—Cons:
• No optical zoom and produces poorer results in difficult environment
• Limited image quality, especially for print
• Low battery life because the camera function requires a lot of power

The majority of travellers would agree that the camera of a smartphone is sufficient enough to capture decent quality travel pictures which will not be used professionally.

That being said, some will still prefer the convenience of travelling with a camera AND their smartphone. Maybe it is in fact, the best of both worlds. There is an appeal to being able to take a picture with your smartphone, edit it and share it instantly on social media and being able to use your camera for higher quality shots regardless of the surrounding environment.

As with any high-tech devices, like the latest generation of smartphones or the newest camera model, it is important to keep it safe while travelling. A simple clause to a travel insurance contract against theft, loss or damage can make a huge difference.

No matter the option selected whether it’s to pack a camera, a smartphone or even both, remember that it’s the person, not the gear, that makes a great photo.

Article by Nomad Junkies team

Demystifying the concept of medical conditions

24 January 2017

Travel insurance is a protection against health expenses abroad following an accident or sudden illness. This is insurance that covers the person’s health. Insurance’s aim is to warn us of future hazards. Therefore, there are restrictions on the medical conditions for people wishing subscribe a travel insurance. The proper term would be to talk to medical eligibility.

What is a condition of medical eligibility?

To obtain travel insurance that will cover you with the benefits offered by the insurance contract, everyone must first meet certain criteria relating to their medical conditions.
A condition of medical eligibility is a health condition for which you have had to be hospitalized or operated, or any condition for which you are being treated by prescribed medication.

Each insurer decides on conditions that it does not want to accept or that it wants to accept under certain conditions (prior condition of health, degree of medical disorder, medical stability, etc.). All insurance policies operate according to a principle. What is not excluded or subject to restriction in the insurance contract, is covered.

Should one infer that one can not be perfectly covered (100%) if a medical condition afflicts them? The answer is no. However, the requirements can vary greatly depending on the age, duration of the trip or the medical condition itself.

What are the medical conditions subject to exclusion or restriction?

As stated above, each insurer sets its own rules. There are very frequent exclusions, that is, those that prevent us from taking out travel insurance:

  1. Your doctor advises you not to travel;
  2. You are suffering from a terminal illness;
  3. You are suffering from metastatic cancer or certain specific cancers (e.g., pancreatic cancer or liver cancer);
  4. You have kidney problems requiring dialysis;
  5. You suffer from respiratory problems requiring oxygen at home;
  6. You have HIV or AIDS;
  7. You are afflicted with some sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, etc.;
  8. Your state is considered as disabled*.

* Recently, some insurers refuse disabled people, that is to say the people who need the help of someone else for activities of daily living or to move.

These systematic exclusions are very common but again, should be reviewed with your travel insurance broker. Some insurers have a list that may differ with varying exclusions. There are also additional medical conditions that are found with one insurer and not with another.

What if one of these conditions affects them?

Now look at the positive side. Even with a medical condition, be it cardiac, pulmonary, diabetic or other, you may be covered if your condition is consistent with the stability required by the insurer. Stability is the time between your last treatment, the last change in medication or last follow-up investigation in relation to your subscription date or date of travel departure. Attention must be given to the definition of medical stability given by each insurer.

By cons, we must also understand that if you have more than two or three major conditions in your file, it is quite possible that you are refused to take out any insurance coverage. It can also impose a large deductible of $5,000 or more, in the case of consultation on all of your medical records on a specific condition or only in the case of hospitalization.

When you purchase travel insurance, it is important to give as much information as possible. Obviously, they will not consider an operation for appendicitis that is 20 years old or even the removal of gallstones after a long time. By cons, surgery to the cardiac system (bypass surgery, angioplasty, valve change, etc.) should always appear in the file, regardless of how long the intervention occurred.

This is where a representative in insurance against sickness or accident is a valuable guide to help you in preparing your travel insurance policy.

What medical information should I know before contacting my broker?

To help your broker to find you adequate travel insurance, it is very important

– To know your list of prescription drugs (all drugs listed on your medical record);

– Why you take them (it controls what);

– To have a calendar of important dates of operation, consultation or hospitalization for health problems such as cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, etc.

Example: Bypass surgery or angioplasty more than ten or twelve years old is regularly checked and even excluded for long-term trips.

If you can accurately provide answers to the three points mentioned above, you are putting every chance on your side. In case of hesitation, check with your doctor, because any error or omission makes the contract null and void in its entirety. A simple consultation for influenza on your trip abroad or in another province may be refused by the insurance. Indeed, if there is an error in your record, for cholesterol, high blood pressure or other, even though the wrong state of health is not the reason for the medical claim, you will not be refunded.

Intentionally or unintentionally omitting medical conditions in your file may lead to the refusal of any medical claims.
A good knowledge of the contract conditions and a good statement of your medical conditions are the guarantee of a serene journey!

7 things to plan before you travel

22 December 2016

After weeks of waiting, the long awaited moment has finally arrived: the ticket is purchased and the big trip approaches! From one point of view, the hardest part is already done: the project has turned into reality. But speaking of reality… it is important not to forget all the preparations for the beginning! Here are some steps to be reckoned with before leaving.

1. Obtain an international driving license

Many travelers believe that it is a waste of time and money to obtain an international driving license. However, it is mandatory to be allowed drive in some countries. The rules may even change from one region to another within the same country! While some places like Thailand are rather conciliatory, with a fine of just $ 8 for offending drivers, the bill can rise very quickly around the world. When you know that the international driving license is only $ 25 (at a CAA-Quebec services center), not a bad price to pay for peace of mind!

2. Join the list of Canadians Abroad

All travelers should register on the Canadian government website. The operation takes no more than 10 minutes and it ensures you will always be up to date on important (and potentially dangerous) events in the countries that you plan to visit. Thus, any registered traveler will receive an email in the case of worrying political movement, of imminent natural disaster or any other phenomenon that requires them to take precautions. The email will contain all the recommendations of the Canadian government and the address of the embassy or the nearest consulate and emergency numbers exclusive to Canadian nationals.

3. Subscribe to travel insurance

Who knows who will fall ill while traveling or who is injured on the road? Due to the number of people who suffer the often inevitable repercussions of a trip, we can say that subscribing to travel insurance, goes without saying! All the stress associated with obtaining overseas care is well taken care of so that we can focus on what is really important: going to enjoy your holiday as soon as possible! And it’s almost too easy if your insurer is chosen well.

Tip: Speaking of insurance, travelers planning to be outside Quebec for more than 6 months (182 days) in total in the same year (1 January to December 31) must inform the board of Quebec health insurance by phone.

4. Choosing the right equipment

Here every traveler has their own method. Some travel very light, while others could practically sleep in their suitcase! But regardless of the method, there are essentials. For a short stay, it is better to provide enough clothing to avoid round trips to the laundry room. In the opposite case, we must provide enough for peace of mind, but not too much, especially if you plan to move around often. Not to be overlooked: the electronics. Is it better to take a camera or smartphone device? A tablet or a laptop? It’s essential to consider everything, because electronic devices are often heavy for their size!

5. List of your possessions

Another important point about the equipment: it is highly advisable to identify what one carries in their luggage. The most important is to note the serial numbers of all electronic devices that includes those being carried around. If one takes other valuables (such as jewelry, for example), it may be wise to also identify it with, if appropriate, make and model. Once everything is noted, it is recommended that all devices and objects are photographed and to send everything to your email. It may be wise to send a copy to a few trusted people, in case you lose access to your emails. When you have a claim for theft or loss, these precautions will serve as proof that you really had these objects.

6. Note the addresses and important phone number

What if it is your papers, wallet or bags which are stolen? To always know who to call first, it is best to make a list of important phone numbers. The number of the Government of Canada’s emergency support service, including email address (sos@international.gc.ca)is a good start. It’s a good idea to continue with a list of contact information (address, phone number and email) embassies and consulates of Canada in countries that you will visit. All friends and contacts that we have in these countries may also be part of the list. Finally, it is very important to note the telephone numbers of banks that manage your credit and debit cards. Again, it must be addressed to yourself by e-mail and send a copy to someone you trust.

7. Check the expiration date of your passport

It may sound obvious, but it is important not to check that the passport is still valid… And it is for even a little while longer! Most countries in the world require that the passport of a passenger is valid for at least six months beyond the date of leaving the country. After all the preparations for the trip, it would be a disappointment to have to go home because of an outdated passport! Moreover, it is essential to check the entry requirements of the country you wish to visit. Maybe getting a visa is required?

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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What to do in case of theft while traveling?

16 December 2016

You are on a trip to Bali with friends to start surfing, sunbathe on paradisiacal beaches and immerse yourself in the Indonesian culture. Returning to your hostel, you realize that the locker in your room, where you left your wallet, your laptop and your camera, was vandalized… The padlock was cut. Your valuables are gone!

How do you react? Where do you start in order to get your stolen items refunded? To avoid panicking unnecessarily, here’s what you need to do step-by-step in the event of a theft:

Procedure in case of theft

1. Stay calm. It is useless to let stress take over. While these are items that have significant monetary or sentimental value, you have to keep your calm and focus on the positive. After all, your life is not in danger, and you did well to have subscribed to a travel insurance.
2. Check that it is theft. Sometimes you move your items from your suitcase to your day bag and you simply forget that you moved them. Before crying wolf, you must take the time to check out what is missing. You can also ask your friends who share your room or your neighbors of the same hostel to check if they were also robbed.
3. Make an inventory of what was stolen. Write a list of items that disappeared while your memory is still fresh. Add as much detail as possible in writing, such as the age and model, in the case of electronic devices.
4. Inform the management of the hostel. Go to the reception of your accommodation and ask to speak to the manager. Explain the situation calmly.
5. Call your insurance agent. Your agent will ask you for more information and it will send you a claim form to complete.
6. Get a police report. You must go into a police station and obtain an official report summarizing the theft. This is a key document for a refund of the missing items. If this is totally impossible, check with your insurance agent for insurance covering the loss of objects.
7. Send the police report to your insurance agent. Once you get the famous police report, you send it immediately to your insurance agent. You can email it by scanning the document, or by fax or mail.
8. Get your refund check. Once the documents are approved by the insurer you will receive a refund check according to the conditions of your travel insurance contract.

Experienced traveler tips:

● Take a picture of your passport, your travel documents and your valuable items in addition to noting the serial numbers of your electronic devices before going on a trip and send the to yourself by email. In case of theft, it will simplify your claim process. Click, click!
● If your passport is stolen, you must immediately inform the nearest passport issuing office. It is possible to get an emergency travel document or a temporary passport in case of urgent need. More information on the Government of Canada’s website.
● If you had your credit card stolen, you must quickly inform the company that issued the card. Your card must be canceled as soon as possible. Your credit card company will guide you in the process of obtaining a new card at home or while traveling.

It is not the end of the world to have items stolen while traveling, but it is certainly not pleasant. You should just know what to do and keep cool. After all, you should congratulate yourself for taking out travel insurance before you went! Well done!

Article by Nomad Junkies team

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How to make a travel insurance medical claim?

18 October 2016

The bad press when paying insurance claims

Every insured person has already heard it said that the insurance companies do not always properly repay when an accident occurs. Even if the reimbursement rules are specifically listed but due to the fastidious way of insurance contracts, there may remain an afterthought on the risk of not receiving the coverage to which one would be entitled by paying the premium insurance.

This bias may come from several sources. One of the situations is that the insured person has misinterpreted the cover which he thought he had. The role of a broker or insurance representative is crucial because they are the privileged interlocutor to understand the needs of a traveler and to adequately inform the guarantees but also the restrictions and exclusions. Another situation is that the traveler is exposed to a risk of which he had forgotten that was not under his travel insurance policy. A final situation is sometimes the insured traveler did not correctly assess his condition beforehand from the conditions agreed in the travel insurance policy for emergency medical care abroad.

Complaints are perhaps not always easy to complete, but if the rules were well set out in the sale of insurance and where they were being followed by the insured, there is no reason that an insurer does not pay during a disaster.

The restrictions and common exclusions in travel insurance

Whether with travel insurance or without medical questionnaire, any contract includes provisions regarding the prior state of traveler health before his departure date or the date of entry into force. In addition, any traveler must keep in mind some general exclusions on most products. Many travelers are unaware of them and therefore this opens the door to a dispute at the presentation of a medical claim.

The travel insurance does not usually cover

  1. sports risks;
  2. the activities of paid professional sports;
  3. speed or endurance races;
  4. piloting an aircraft or a flight as a paying passenger in another public transport method;
  5. countries, regions or cities in which Canada’s Foreign Affairs issue a warning not to stay;
  6. and in some cases paid work (some insurance travel products for the Snowbirds do not cover people working against remuneration).

Exclusions that can be felt more by all travelers:

  1. an optional treatment (medical care that can wait for the return trip);
  2. a trip undertaken for the purpose of receiving medical treatment;
  3. concealment or deliberate misrepresentation regarding insurance or the presentation of a claim;
  4. drug use, abuse of drugs or alcohol that directly or indirectly leads to a claim;
  5. attempted suicide or self-harm;
  6. mental or emotional disorders, anxiety, stress or depression unless you need to be hospitalized. Here it should be noted that some travel insurance products never cover mental or psychological problems because they are not considered a medical emergency.

Of these exclusions, the one that causes problems most often is the abuse of alcohol.

If you go to the emergency room following a banal accident from a fall causing a blow to the head, a cut above one eye or a sprained ankle, and if they think you exceed the permitted alcohol limit and after a blood test result are above the legal limit, the insurance company has the right not to pay your medical expenses related.

The importance of calling the emergency phone number before any medical consultation

Failure to call the assistance center before consulting (unless a serious medical condition or admission to hospital in extreme emergency) can create unpleasant surprises for you, such as non-payment of the claim. By contacting the support center, the speakers will tell you immediately how to proceed, so you do not make a mistake. The emergency numbers to call are listed on your insurance certificate and your insurance policy detailing the exact scope of coverage purchased.

The importance of having a valid health insurance card

Whatever your province or territory of residence, you will normally have a registration for a public insurance plan. This gives you a health insurance card. It must always be in place, because during a claim when traveling abroad, the insurer verifies if you are in good standing. If unfortunately, your card is no longer valid, your medical claim is likely to be refused or the level of reimbursement of benefits may be drastically reduced.

The best way to avoid problems in medical travel claims is to read your insurance policy before departure and ask all relevant questions to your broker or your insurance representative.

7 keys to understanding international driving permits

2 October 2016

1. What is an international driving permit?

The international driving permit or IDP has information from the usual driving license translated into ten languages. The languages are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, Italian, Swedish and Portuguese. The holder thus has a new photo ID in addition to his other identity documents. In addition, most car rental companies will ask for an IDP, although it is not required to drive in the country visited. The international driving permit is not valid in the state or province where the holder has established his main residence. This should cover the formalities for obtaining regulatory permits for the state or province of residence. The international driving permit or IDP is a title of conduct where one is qualified as non-resident.

2. Does a Canadian motorist need a IDP in North America?

The international driving permit was created as part of a UN convention on road traffic in 1949. This document is recognized in all the signatories to this agreement. Even though some have not signed it, IDP is often accepted in their territory.
For Canadians, the IDP is usually required outside of North America. Normally, the Canadian driver’s licenses are sufficient to circulate in the United States or Mexico. Unfortunately, without explicitly requiring this famous international driving permit, some US states have adopted legislation that did not accept licenses not in English. This has a direct impact for residents of Quebec.

The US state of Georgia is almost a must for those traveling by car to Florida. Many Canadian retirees, commonly called snowbirds, were likely to be confronted with local laws regarding driving licenses. Indeed, any motorist driving in this state should have a driving license in English. This led de facto impossible for Quebecers to ride locally with their driving license denominated in French. The Georgian authorities seemed rarely fined motorists holding only allowed Quebec. Getting suspended since this law will be repealed end 2016, which will allow Quebec drivers to present their passport and driving license of Quebec when needed. From January 1, 2017, Georgia will no longer require that its agents present international driving permit if the lead held permit is written in a language other than English. The presentation of the Canadian passport with the Quebec driver’s license written in French is only admissible for local authorities. There will be no need for Quebeckers to have an international driving permit in Georgia.

3. How to get information about permits for the countries visited?

In addition to the travel advisory, the Department of Canadian Foreign Affairs informs about whether or not to obtain a prior international driving permit. The information is specified in the “Laws and Customs” tab of each country profile. To view the information by country, please follow the following link: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.

4. Where to get an international driving permit?

For Canadian residents, the CAA is the only Canadian jurisdiction authorized to issue and to deliver international driving permit.

An international driving permit is valid for a period of one year from the date of issue. Motorists must reapply each time another IDP is required.

5. What are the conditions for an IDP?

A Canadian traveler wishing to use a road vehicle in a country requiring an international driving license must be at least 18 years. He must also hold a valid and unrestricted Canadian driving license. The Canadian drivers who can not get an IDP are those who hold only a temporary permit (or learning) and those who were stripped of their license because of violations of the code of the road.

The international driving permit does not apply to the category of vehicles which the Canadian license held by the motorist does not authorize driving.

6. What is the cost of this license?

The Canadian motorist can report to their local CAA Club with the required documents (two-sided photocopy of the driving license in good standing issued by the province of residence, two passport photographs and the IDP application form for the CAA).

The cost is currently $ 25 (subject to change without notice from CAA).

You can also apply by mail. A request sent by mail must include the payment of fees by credit card or by bank draft, money order or check in Canadian currency from a Canadian financial institution payable to your local CAA Club.

Note that IDP will not be issued earlier than a month before the departure date. The IDP is valid for one year from its date of issue. No need to be a member of the CAA to apply!

7. What will happen if you stay abroad for over a year?

If the stay abroad exceeds one year and your IDP expires, you can request a new one, provided that your Canadian driving license is still valid. Your new international driving permit will be posted abroad, at your expense.

6 disregarded realities of travel insurance

2 September 2016

Multi-trip insurance cannot be interrupted

If a traveler subscribes to an annual travel insurance plan, also called multi-trip insurance, this type of plan is not refundable as soon as it comes into force. It provides insurance coverage for unlimited travel for a certain period, in the course of 365 consecutive days. If the insured has availed of that once or several times during the annual period, the insurance premium does not vary. The argument of non-payment is that the insured can use it later as the contract is valid for one year from the start date of their first insured trip. Obviously age of the insured traveler, certain medical conditions may not be covered if it does not respect the stability period required at each new start. Usually, anyone planning to travel outside their province of residence repeatedly should consider the option of an annual plan of travel insurance. It will prove more economical than several unique travel insurance.

 

A deductible can be applied several times a trip

Some travel insurance for all and travel insurance for travelers 55+ offer the possibility to choose the application of a deductible in order to lower the insurance premium. The exact application of the deductible depends on each insurer. It is important to refer to the section of the insurance policy that details the conditions of application of the deductible. In general, the medical deductible applies to each new event (accident or illness). For example, if a traveler consults for early bronchitis, they shall pay the amount of the deductible in their travel insurance policy. If they then consult for a broken ankle, the deductible applies again because they are two separate events.

 

But increasingly, the deductible also applies per visit to an emergency room or hospitalization even if connected to the same medical condition. If the insured returns for a follow up planned by the treating physician, the deductible will not apply. But if he returns to an emergency room due to a sudden relapse of his condition, some contracts apply the deductible again.

 

When purchasing travel insurance, you must check the General Conditions carefully.

 

The number of prescribed medications can influence the insurance premium

The number of drugs prescribed at the pharmacy regularly are subject to a medical question on contracts for travelers wishing to cover their pre-existing conditions. This criterion is found in either the admissibility or the medical questionnaire. The answer is involved in determining the premium. It is strongly advisable to check with your doctor if certain medications taken as needed or nonessential could not be replaced by OTC drugs. Thus, the number of drugs decreases. This can give access to more insurance products or avoid elongated medical questionnaires which must be approved by the medical team of insurance companies. This process is more difficult because the traveler must provide exam results, so for him it involves costs, waiting time and therefore stress.

 

The partial reimbursement of the insurance premium for shortened travel is subject to conditions

Any traveler making a hasty return to his country or province of residence can claim a refund for unused days. This possibility is not offered on annual insurance nor if insurance includes cancellation coverage or trip interruption.

 

When the travel insurance policy so authorizes, reimbursement for early return is subject to certain conditions. No refund is possible if the insured traveler consulted in order to obtain medical services during their stay abroad. This restriction is always described in the conditions of the travel insurance policy wording. If the traveler has made any medical claims and has no medical claim form to be submitted to the insurer, it can claim a refund of the unused insurance days. Administrative charges are applicable. They are usually specified in the insurance certificate originally issued. These fees vary slightly between insurers. It is also asked to provide proof of valid return to his country or province of residence.

A group plan to cover the beginning of your journey brings some disadvantages

It may be advantageous to cover the beginning of your journey through a group insurance or a credit card that gives the holder travel insurance coverage. It is the responsibility of the traveler to check out the number of days covered and the required stability. If the trip undertaken exceeds the coverage offered in duration through group insurance or credit card, it should be complemented by a unique travel insurance. Should the latter be purchased prior to the date of departure in trip and the two insurance periods must follow each other without interruption.

 

If the traveler extends the coverage offered through group insurance or card credit, it is essential to check that the first insurer authorizes to extend its plan with another insurer. The standards are sometimes quite different. For example, some require group plans to use the predetermined number of days of insurance, without possibility of extension. Or some credit cards must be extended by the same insurer unless with special permission.

 

Finally, if a medical event occurs during the first period of insurance (one in the group coverage or that of the credit card), it causes a change in medical stability with regard to the insurer completing the second period of coverage. Accordingly, an accident or illness during the first period of insurance becomes an exclusion for pre-existing conditions for the second period of insurance.

 

The return date of an insurance contract is based on the time of arrival of the flight

When a passenger makes a request to provide a package holiday, it is important to know the dates and times of departure and return. Time to return to the country or province of residence is crucial. Often return flights will be quite late in the evening. For travel insurance it is very valid, it must be taken out until the date of the next day if the flight ends after midnight.