I have read of travelers heading out without travel insurance. They say that medical care is cheap in foreign lands. They say that should anything happen to them they would get themselves back home and rely on the requirement of their local hospitals to help them. I say they are being naive, short-sighted, and irresponsible.

Are they naive enough to think that they won’t get sick, or perhaps trip or, heaven-forbid, get in an accident during their yearlong jaunt around the world? Are they short-sighted enough to not think about how they might get back to Canada (or the States) should something happen? Are they irresponsible enough to rely on friends and family to nurse them back to health or take care of them in whatever state they find themselves?

Sure, I understand that medical/travel insurance is expensive and sure, I understand how much of a budget crunch that can be but this is your life for crying out loud!!

Researching medical/travel insurance reminds me of writing First Year English essays where you’re asked to ‘compare and contrast’ elements of various subjects. After a day of looking at all the various options, I was left a cowering, anxious, bleary eyed version of myself – definitely like First Year English!

Reading the fine print, though, can be an exersize in morbid humour. I mean, really, what happens if you lose one eye, one hand and a foot? Or if it’s left dangling?

It’s impossible to ‘compare and contrast’ details like this.

There are some items that are comparable though:

  • What is the maximum emergency medical/dental coverage?
  • Is ‘Interuption Insurance’ included? This is where the policy would fly you back home to deal with certain emergency issues, and then return you to your original destination.
  • Does the policy include Accident coverage?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Who underwrites the policy?
  • Who delivers the service (who do you have to call in the event of an emergency)?
  • Is baggage loss covered?
  • What does the policy say about pre-existing conditions (I have Crohn’s Disease)?

I have narrowed it down to four options: WorldNomads, TravelCuts, Pacific Blue Cross and BCAA . All are about the same price ($1300 for the year for the two of us). All require us to also have provincial medical coverage, which seems to be unavoidable as a Canadian. This means an additional $98/month for us. Do the math…ouch!

I was leaning toward WorldNomads and TravelCuts thinking that they deal with travelers as their core business and so might be best, but BCAA offers the best maximum coverage ($5M vs $1M) and may not penalize me for my pre-existing condition. Really, it all seems like a crap shoot – they are the experts in this and I just have to choose a reputable provider and hope that I will never need it.

In reality, if when we do get sick, we will probably visit a clinic and pay the fees out of our own pockets anyway (as the fee likely won’t be more than the deductible) but that’s not really what this insurance is for. It’s for peace of mind, it’s for responsibility and it’s to insure that we have a good, worry-free time.