The majority of Canadians (83%) are taking a summer vacation this year, says BMO Insurance.

But most of these globetrotters don’t realize they could face emergencies while abroad, it adds. In fact, the company’s annual survey found as many as a quarter of Canadians have required medical attention for themselves or a companion during past getaways.

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This can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, says BMO. Julie Barker-Merz, vice president and COO of BMO Insurance, says treatment for a broken leg in Florida could cost up to US$20,000, while treatment for decompression sickness in Thailand could cost up to US$40,000.

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Despite these hefty costs, nearly a third (31%) of Canadians never or rarely purchase travel insurance when going abroad. This is because:

  • they’re already covered by work or provincial plans
  • they’re already covered by a credit card
  • It’s too costly

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BMO Insurance says to offer these tips to clients:

  • Inform them that basic travel insurance often only covers things like lost luggage, trip cancellation and missed connections. They may need medical and dental coverage, as well as plans that account for air ambulance and private duty nurse fees.
  • Pay-as-you-go medical travel insurance can be purchased before each trip. However, those who are out-of-province or out of Canada more than once during a 12-month period should consider a policy with an annual premium.
  • Some insurers pay the doctor directly, while others get the traveler to pay up front and then get reimbursed. What do clients’ policies require?
  • Always have them read the fine print and tell them to keep a copy of their policies on hand (so they have the contact information of their insurance companies).

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