Medical Emergencies Can Bankrupt Your Client

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Travellers could be footing a thousand-dollar bill when dealing with a medical emergency sans travel insurance

It's no exaggeration that medical emergencies abroad can cost thousands of dollars if the traveller does not have insurance.

Based on the average costs on claims administered by Allianz Global Assistance Canada, a broken ankle in The Bahamas averages US$11,470 with a hospital stay of 2.5 days. In Cuba, the average cost of a broken leg is $3,835US with a hospital stay of 8 days. A hip fracture in the Dominican Republic could also be financially devastating, with an average cost of US$43,500.

Moreover, a family member accompanying an injured or ill loved one could face extra costs on hotels and rebooking flights.

"Extra nights in a hotel for the accompanying family member, additional meals, and having to rebook flights are expenses most people don't consider," says Dan Keon, Vice President, Market Management, Allianz Global Assistance Canada. "These, and other out-of-pocket expenses may be covered by medical, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and help to offset significant financial losses."

Apart from medical emergencies happening abroad, Allianz suggests advising clients to consider the consequences of an unforeseen event occurring before the trip even begins.

The upcoming March Break doesn't usually have any flexibility on dates, so trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance can be equally as important as having travel medical insurance. 

"Canadians spend an average of $2,573 on vacations each year, which makes travel one of the single largest annual purchases for an average household. Adding unexpected medical expenses, extra hotel nights, unplanned meals and rebooked flights to that, can be financially devastating," says Keon. "It just makes sense to budget the relatively inexpensive cost of insurance into your vacation plans."

At the beginning of February, the federal government sent out a notice suggesting that all Canadians travelling during March Break purchase "the best travel insurance they can afford."

The policy should include coverage for health, life and disability coverage that will help travellers avoid incurring major expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside Canada.

The notice also recommended that travellers register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home, and advises that vacationers surround themselves with friends and consume alcohol responsibly.

Every year, Global Affairs Canada helps thousands of Canadians who run into problems while they are travelling, working, studying and living in other countries. In 2017, Canada's consular office processed 916 cases requiring medical assistance for Canadians abroad, of which close to one third occurred in popular sun destinations.