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Ask your insurance company if your group travel policy covers the Zika Virus

Like thousands of Canadians, you are looking forward to your winter break, dreaming of southern destinations of sandy beaches and blue lagoons. While the prospect of a week or two of fun in the sun is something to get excited about, you could bring home huge medical bills. That said, hold off on hitting the “buy now” button when asked if you want to purchase medical travel insurance.

Even with the news of the Zika virus spreading in the Caribbean and Central America, it is a good idea to check your employer’s insurance coverage first. While no none books a vacation assuming the worst, we have a few things you should consider when understanding how your policy works.

  1. Understand your Out Of Country Coverage

Start by finding out if your employers benefit plan already has travel insurance coverage – specifically, medical coverage. While most plans cover emergency conditions, defined as acute, unexpected conditions, illness, disease or accidental injury requiring immediate medical treatment, make sure you check the fine print. Some policies may not cover your spouse or dependents, while others may charge additional premiums for adventure travel such as bungee jumping and rock climbing. Reviewing your existing policy will help you understand what is covered in the event of an emergency and help you get a better grasp of coverage you can top up to make sure you are fully protected.

  1. Travelling to Zika-Impacted Regions

Whether you have an existing policy covering out of country emergency medical expenses, or have purchased travel insurance, but you are travelling to a Zika-impacted region, you will still need to clarify with your plan administrator what they will cover in the event you contract the virus while travelling. For example, some insurance companies will ask you to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions you might have. Given the Zika-virus sensitivity to pregnant women, if you are expecting a child in the near future, and your doctor recommends you do not travel to specific destination, your plan may be voided. Some airlines have already allowed pregnant passengers travelling to these destinations to change their bookings or destinations altogether.

  1. Know what to do in the event of an Emergency

When taking a vacation, the very last thing you want to worry about is the hassle associated with unexpected medical expenses. In the event of an emergency, you should know what to do. The first thing you need to know is how to your insurance carrier. If you have an insurance plan, call the 1-800 number on the card and report your medical emergency to your carrier as soon as possible. The administration centre will give you near real time advice as to what procedures are covered and help you through the next steps. Health expenses can be incredibly costly therefore don’t let yourself be caught unprepared.

Whether you are planning a week on a beach in Barbados, a 3 month Sabbatical in Costa Rica or leaving for a weekend shopping binge in Buffalo, it is impossible to predict what may unexpectedly happen to your help. While prevention is nearly impossible, understanding your out of country coverage can give you peace of mind when travelling abroad. This will help you make better financial decisions as to whether you need additional coverage and provide you with peace of mind as well. Do you want to learn more about out of country medical coverage? Read more about it on the Beneplan Blog.