With the holiday season upon us people are planning their winter vacations. Many will buy travel insurance, while others assume they are covered by their group insurance plan. But out-of-country group insurance benefits are handled by a third party, not the insurance company supplier. So what happens if:

  • You override the emergency medical’s directive or the insurance company denies your claim?
  • The medical emergency involves a critical illness, like a stroke or heart attack that has longer lasting financial ramifications beyond the need to get and pay for immediate care?

Read: Plan a safe trip with travel insurance

In a medical emergency the third party’s first concern is to stabilize the patient, the second to get them back to the country of origin as soon as possible.

But what if extenuating circumstances or the opinion of the patient or their family is that getting them home quickly is not the best course of action? A colleague of mine found out the answer to this question when his wife had a stroke in Greece: you have to cover the costs yourself and then submit a reimbursement claim. In his case the bill was US$92,400.

Read: Talk travel insurance before your client takes off

Some bank-owned critical illness insurance coverage in Canada would not have paid on this claim because the coverage is only valid for critical illnesses diagnosed in Canada.

If you don’t specialize in travel insurance, find an advisor who does to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Read: Travel insurance protects net worth

Helena Smeenk Pritchard has over 36 years of experience in the insurance industry and is the Principal of Helena Smeenk Pritchard & Associates, a leader in “Insurance Know-How” training. Helena publishes a weekly free ‘Did You Know’ newsletter on her site.