Medi-Quote Blog

When it comes to travel insurance and pre-existing conditions, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about how pre-existing conditions are not covered at all. Sometimes people incorrectly assume that their existing conditions would not be covered by a policy. However, most of the time pre-existing conditions will be covered, as long as you disclose the condition to your broker so you are put on the proper plan, and the condition meets the plan's stability criteria.

What is stability?

Stability refers to the requirement of a policy, that there be no changes in a medical condition for a period of time. A change means a change in treatment or symptoms, including:

  • Being hospitalized;
  • Being put on a new medication;
  • An increase in a prescribed medication dosage;
  • Reducing or coming off a prescribed medication;
  • A flare-up, or worsening of symptoms.

Coming off a medication or having your dosage reduced is considered a change in stability even if it seems counter-intuitive

People are often surprised to learn that a reduction in dosage or being taken off a medication altogether is considered a change in stability. The reason is that you won't know right away what effect coming off a medication will have. It may mean your condition worsens, but you won't know until some time passes.

Coverage is available for conditions with as little as 7 days of stability

Different providers and plans have different requirements to qualify. A certain condition with 12 months of stability may qualify for a less expensive plan than the same condition with only three months of stability. For people with very recent stability changes, we offer a 7 day stability buy-down. Meaning, that as long as your condition and the treatment of that condition hasn't changed for 7 days before departure, your condition will be considered stable.

Medical testing affects stability

If you've had medical tests and are awaiting results, that is considered not stable. If you have tests scheduled, it's the same, you would not be considered stable.  If your doctor has told you that you will need testing, but no test have been scheduled yet, that may or may not be considered stable, depending on the insurance company. It can be complicated, so just let us know what is going on and we'll let you know what it all means.

Your doctor is not a travel insurance broker

If your doctor says something will or won't affect your travel insurance, take it with a grain of salt. They are not experts in insurance. Trust your doctor for medical advice, but leave the interpretations about the insurance side of things to us!

Track your medical changes, exact dates are very helpful

Knowing the exact date that a change was made can make getting on the right plan easier. And even though it may cost more, getting the right insurance can save you a lot of money in the long run. Keep track of your doctor's visits and whether you have changes to medications and other treatments. You can use our client portal at MyMediquote.ca to track these changes in your medical history. And when it comes time to quote your travel insurance we'll have the exact information because you've updated the information as it happened.

Don't put off doctor's visits

Go to the doctor now. If you've got travel coming up, give yourself plenty of lead time in case any medication adjustments are made. You'll have more time between the change and your departure date, which means a longer period of stability. Don't avoid the doctor for fear a change will affect your travel insurance costs negatively. Your health is the most important thing you have!

This Form informs the IRS that you should not be treated as a U.S. resident for tax purposes because you have closer ties to Canada. It is an important form to file if you want to avoid more detailed and expensive disclosures to the IRS.

  • You should file this if you are spending more than 4 months a year in the U.S. on a recurring basis. Don’t forget to count those shopping trips across the border too. Any portion of a day in the U.S. counts. Run your 2013, 2014 and 2015 through the test to determine if you have to file.
  • You must file the Form by June 15th each year. No extensions and no late filing allowed.
  • You do not need an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to file the form.
  • If you need help remembering when you were in the U.S., use this website: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html
  • The form can be access here: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-8840,-Closer-Connection-Exception-Statement-for-Aliens

 Talk to a tax advisor to discuss your options if you were required to file this form, but failed to in the past.

This information appears courtesy of Christina Walkden of 49P Tax Services

 

We are happy to see that our friends who were displaced by the fires in Fort McMurray are finally starting to come home now. We know you have a long road ahead, but we know that as Canadians, you have what it takes. Good luck and a speedy recovery to you, Fort Mac!

Click here to donate!

 

Last year we unveiled our DIY ("Do-It-Yourself") quoter, which allowed you to enter your information online and have our system automatically find the best available price and coverage based on your answers. And over last few months we've worked on some improvements to make it even better. 

For people without any medical conditions, the process has been streamlined, with fewer questions to answer. And for those with more serious conditions, our system can handle a greater variety of health conditions, without the intervention of a broker. Even if you tried it last year with limited success, you should try it again this year. You can always save your quote and call our office to discuss any questions you may have about the quote with one of our qualified Brokers.

You can try the DIY quoter out yourself. Or watch the video presentation below that talks more about what makes our DIY quoter different and how to use it to get a quote.

Click here to go to the MyMediquote.ca Client Portal to try the DIY quoter

All of us at Medi-Quote Insurance Brokers would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone that is affected by the wildfires in Fort McMurray. Whether you are directly affected or being consumed with images that are reflected in the media, we know this is a difficult time for many. We will continue to hope for rain and thank all of the emergency workers and volunteers for their tireless efforts to battle the flames and ensure continued safety of everyone.
#albertastrong #albertahelps #helpymm #ymmfire #canadianstrong #ymm

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Purchasing baggage insurance for your trip is a great way to get extra piece of mind when traveling. But, unless you've been through an experience involving lost or stolen items and tried to make a claim on baggage insurance, there's a lot you might not know. That's why we've put together a few tips to help you cover your personal belongings while traveling. Here's just a few suggestions:

Check coverage limits for high value items - When purchasing baggage insurance with the intention of covering high value items like laptops and cameras, you may not be getting full coverage for the value of those items. Check your policy wording, or find out the coverage limits with your broker when purchasing the coverage, to see how much you would be reimbursed if expensive items were lost or stolen.

Use your home insurance to cover high value items –  You can contact your home insurance provider to get additional coverage for these items under your home insurance policy. You will likely be able to get more coverage for high value items than you could with traditional baggage insurance alone.

Take care of your stuff - Insurance companies expect you to take "reasonable care" of your belongings, and a claim could be denied if you leave something unattended in a public space or a shared hostel.

Document your gear with photos - If your baggage is lost or stolen, you will need to prove what items were lost when filing a claim. Taking photos of your items while packing, and keeping a list of what's in your possession, can serve as proof of what was lost. You could even save your photos in the cloud so they can be accessed even if you lose your camera or smart phone.

Cover your cash - The loss of cash can be covered if proof is given, however all policies have a limit to how much they will reimburse for lost cash during a theft or robbery – the maximum is usually $100, however some policies exclude coverage for cash entirely.

Watch for exclusions - Review the exclusions of any baggage insurance before purchasing. Some typical exclusions include common personal items like contact lenses, prescription eye glasses, artificial  teeth, and hearing aids. Other common exclusions include art, antiques, and fragile or brittle items.

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Canadians need to better understand their travel health insurance policies if they want to ensure they aren't in debt for out-of-country medical expenses, based on findings from a Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) survey.Forty-seven per cent of respondents have never reviewed their policies even though 23 per cent have required medical care while travelling.

"Policies vary from provider to provider. It's important to understand what will impact your coverage for medical expenses outside ofCanada, or even within Canada," said Alex Bittner, THiA President. "Everyone should have a carefree holiday and not worry about unexpected medical expenses".

A survey of Canadian travel insurance providers shows that more than 95.3 per cent of travel health claims are successfully paid. THiA wants to see this number increase. This year's survey was designed to identify the public's understanding of common factors that can lead to a claim being denied. Some key points that travellers need to read and understand about their travel health insurance policies include the following.

Diagnostic tests or prescription changes
A claim can be denied if a physician orders you a diagnostic test or prescribes a change in medication prior to travelling. If you have a pre-existing condition that you are looking to cover, it needs to be stable for a period of time as specified in the policy, meaning no change in health or even a change of meds (dosage or type).  More than 55 per cent of respondents did not realize that a blood test that indicates a change in health status could compromise their medical stability, and as a result their coverage. Sixty-four per centdo not realize that a change in prescription can qualify as a change in health status.  "I've coined it 'Doctor Disconnect'.  To have a physician unwittingly compromise travel insurance coverage is unfortunate. None of us want that." said Bittner.  Education is key.

Travelling while pregnant
Most travel health insurance policies do not cover women more than 31 weeks pregnant. This means that any kind of health condition experienced after the specified period in the policy will not be covered. Forty-three per cent of respondents believe that pre-term infants are covered by travel health insurance when the reality is that virtually no policies cover pre-term infants born while travelling. Neo-natal intensive care can bankrupt a family. Does this mean that the ever popular 'baby-moon' should be banned? Not necessarily but perhaps consider taking that last trip in the first half of the pregnancy, and realize that even if you are covered, the baby may not be.

Being intoxicated 
Thirty-nine per cent admitted to being intoxicated while on vacation but a full 52 per cent admit to being unaware that an injury or illness that occurs with high blood alcohol levels can lead to a claim being denied.

Business travel requires travel health insurance too, especially for entrepreneurs
Less than one per cent of respondents purchase travel insurance when travelling for business. Many companies have extended travel health insurance but it's the travellers' responsibility to understand their coverage. Employee benefit plans also are subject to exclusions and limitations.  Small business owners should double check and ensure they have the necessary coverage.  And good news, it's tax deductible.

What constitutes an extreme sport?
Some policies consider hiking a form of mountaineering. Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed have hiked on vacation. Buying the wrong policy can be costly as a broken leg can cost up to $10,000 per day (and much more if there are complications) for medical treatment in the United States.

"We want people to have confidence in their travel health insurance policies. Understanding your policy and coverage will help ensure that you are looked after in the event of unexpected medical emergencies," said Bittner.

Three Golden Rules 
THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

  1. Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies
  2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions
  3. Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Some policies will be more suitable for you than others

The THiA website has a guide available to help Canadians understand their travel insurance needs before they investigate policies.

About the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) 
Founded in 1998, the Travel Health Insurance Association(THiA) is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. THiA is the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canada and is engaged in public education and issues relating to regulatory affairs and member communications.

SOURCE Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA)

We will be closed on Monday, October 12th for Thanksgiving. Until then you can get a do-it-yourself-quote on our client portal by clicking here.

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This week we took the shrink wrap off brand new functionality on our MyMediquote Client portal - A Do-It-Yourself (or "DIY") quoting system that allows you to enter your information and get a price on travel insurance instantly! No waiting for a broker.

The system will ask you medical questions as well as other questions that are important to providing you an accurate quote, and match you up with the correct plan from amongst all our available plans. If you like what you see you can save your quote for purchase.

You can even have a ‘guest quote’ prepared which is a quote prepared without the hassle of logging in.

This system is best for those with minor health problems. If you have ever had serious health problems you will still need to deal with one of our brokers, as complicated issues demand the care and attention of a qualified expert.

Click here to check to get a DIY Quote

If you have a multi-trip annual plan for your travel insurance, be sure to check when your annual starts to count down. Some annual plans start counting down as soon as you leave your home province while others do not start until you leave Canada.

Knowing when your annual plan starts counting down can help ensure you have your top-up coverage start at the correct time when away longer than the number of days on your annual plan. Having a gap in coverage outside Canada could invalidate your insurance so it's an important detail to know if you happen to spend time in another province on your way out of the country.

Let your broker know your travel plans when getting a quote, as they can advise when there are options that could benefit your situation. In the case of someone who did plan on staying in another province before leaving Canada, it would be worth looking at an annual plan with unlimited coverage in Canada that starts counting down when leaving the country rather than leaving your home province.

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