Tag Archives: travel insurance


That’s what I often hear.  It will never happen – I am going on this vacation no matter what.  They’ll have to carry me up the stairs to the flight with my leg in a cast – I am going and that’s it and NO THANK YOU – I don’t need insurance.

insurance cartoon

Yep – and then you see the newspaper headlines about people stranded in hospitals outside of Canada with sky-high medical bills that are climbing every day and guess what?  They don’t have the insurance to cover these expenses.  Because if they did then it wouldn’t be news.  They would simply call the insurance company who would step in and take over the whole process.  Of course, travel insurance policies vary from company to company.  That’s why it is up to the traveller to be responsible for themselves and to make sure that they are properly covered.  The best policies will include a generous amount of medical coverage – at least $5M – as well as coverage for cancellation and interruption.  What does interruption mean?  It means that if you are travelling and you miss a connection due to bad weather or mechanical failure you are protected. 

Yes – I can hear you.  Some people say travel insurance is a scam.  From personal experience I can say that every time I travel I take insurance.  And yes, I have made claims.  And yes, I have been paid out.  I have probably paid more in insurance premiums than I have received back from the insurance company in claims because fortunately my claims so far have been fairly small.

But I would never travel without insurance because I don’t want to leave my family and friends feeling that they have to bail me out.

This Go Fund Me business makes me mad.  People make stupid mistakes, travel to a foreign land, maybe have an accident and now the whole world has to pay for them just because they didn’t have the sense to take care of themselves.

Stuff happens – we know that.  That is why companies have to pay Workmens Compensation Insurance or Errors and Omissions Insurance to protect themselves and their employees.  It is the same reason that people buy insurance to cover their homes against fire or flood.  It is what sensible people do.

Reading the heart breaking stories on various Go Fund Me campaigns is hard – even more so when you consider that a little pre-planning could have avoided all of this.  Here is an extract from a campaign where a young girl was injured in a car accident in Bali

“XXXXX  was critically injured in an accident on 10/12/17 whilst overseas and is currently in a foreign hospital where the medical bills to save her life are mounting.
Her parents are retired and the medical bills are causing a huge stress on top of the fact their daughter (our niece) is in a foreign country so badly injured. Distance is so hard under these circumstances. We now have some of her family members bedside updating us on her progress.
Her injuries are substantial and we would appreciate any help towards getting her well enought to come home to her loving family.
Her parents are heart broken to say the least and it is christmas time as well so even harder. This is our way of helping to get her back home to her family and we would be so truly grateful if you can help in anyway through our Go Fund Me page

The funds we are raising will be used for the current medical expenses approx $150000 incurred overseas to date.  Her parents are retired and are currently using all retirement funds and resources to get their daughter home, their funds are being exhausted to save the life of their daughter and this is why we are helping them.”

Now how sad is that?  Can you imagine the stress and worry her parents are going through.  What is so frustrating about this is it could have all been avoided.

But how much does it cost?

Let’s say we have a young person (under 30) going away for just over two months (62 days)  – they can get a policy giving up to $5M medical expenses for $301.94.  That works out to $4.87 per day Cdn $.   But let’s say that same young person is going to Vegas for 3 nights – the same medical insurance offering cover up to $5M is just $19.  Why would you take the chance?  There are a number of Go Fund Me campaigns on the go for Canadians injured in the Vegas shooting.

So instead of Go Fund Me – why not Go Take Care of Yourself – and don’t rely on others to pay for your mistakes.


Understanding travel advisories

As you know there was a very serious incident in Nice yesterday involving a truck that drove into a crowd watching celebrations for a national holiday (Bastille Day).  Once again our hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy and to the whole of France.  In fact this sort of terrorism touches all of us around the world

je suis

(I am exhausted)

As at this morning (15th July 2016) the position with regard to travel to France would seem to be as follows –

  • The Canadian Government has updated its online travel advice page with information on the incident in Nice but has not issued a travel advisory recommending that Canadians do not travel to France. They continue to recommend that travellers to France “exercise a high degree of caution due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.” when travelling in France;
  • There is still elevated security in France under the “state of emergency” that was declared by the French government last year and that state of emergency will continue for another 3 months. As a result, travellers will probably notice more police and other security at airports, seaports and train stations.
  • Flights and trains appear to be operating as usual in France;
  • Of course, the Canadian government travel advice on France may change as more information becomes available to them and customers can monitor this themselves at https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/france


So let’s look more deeply into this.

What does it mean when the Canadian Government website advises travelers to exercise a high degree of caution as advised on their website regarding France. This is what their website says –


France – Exercise a high degree of caution

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for France. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.

“Exercise a high degree of caution” means

“There are identifiable safety and security concerns or the safety and security situation could change with little notice. You should exercise a high degree of caution at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.”

The following are the four risk levels of travel advice that could be issued by the Canadian Government. I am intentionally using the word “advice” as opposed to “advisory” as otherwise things can get confusing, as you will see below.

Risk levels

As you will see from the above, only the last two “Risk Levels” are “Official Government of Canada Travel Advisories”. Important? Yes, if you have travel insurance with cancellation cover, because the first two levels may not be sufficient for you to make a claim if you decide you don’t want to go to the affected destination. For example the Manulife Travel Insurance policy states that you only have cover if –

“20. ‡ The Government of Canada issues an “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” or an “Avoid All Travel” travel advisory after your departure date, advising or recommending that Canadian residents should not visit a destination included in your trip.”

AND, just to really complicate matters, every Insurer will have different wording and coverage; so you should check your policy carefully and, if necessary, take advice and/or call your insurance company BEFORE you decide to cancel!

ALSO, some existing “travel advisories” can be confusing.  For example, the Level 3 travel advisory on the Canadian Government website with regard to Egypt advises as follows


Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Egypt due to the unpredictable security situation. This advisory does not apply to the Red Sea coastal resorts of Hurghada (and its surroundings) and Sharm el-Sheikh, nor to the area from Luxor to Aswan along the upper Nile, where you should exercise a high degree of caution.

So, if you are planning a trip to Egypt you may find that you can’t get travel insurance at all because many Nile river cruises and packages start in Cairo which is subject to the Travel Advisory. So your choice of land arrangements and flights may be limited to areas in Egypt that are excluded from the Travel Advisory. All this is not easy but a travel professional may be able to assist with flights from Europe and other arrangements that keep you in the excluded areas.

And then there is the “sort-of” Level 3 Travel Advisory for MEXICO – a popular destination for Canadians – that only applies to the Northern and Western States


MEXICO – Exercise a high degree of caution

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Mexico. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to violence in those parts of the country experiencing a deteriorating security situation (see Advisories below). High levels of criminal activity, as well as demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks, remain a concern throughout the country.

Northern states – Avoid non-essential travel

Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León (except the city of Monterrey), Sinaloa (with the exception of Mazatlán), Sonora (except the cities of Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos), and Tamaulipas due to high levels of violence linked to organized crime. Consult Security for more information.

Western states – Avoid non-essential travel

Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the western states of Guerrero (including Acapulco but excluding the cities of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo and Taxco) and Michoacán (excluding the city of Morelia) due to the high levels of violence and organized crime. For the same reason, avoid non-essential travel to the areas of Jalisco state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas, as well as the areas of Colima state that border Michoacán. Exercise a high degree of caution in the excluded areas. Consult Security for more information.

Or the lower level risk advice that applies to many places in and around the Caribbean – for example

Costa Rica – Exercise a high degree of caution

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Costa Rica. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime.

Or Belize?

Belize – Exercise a high degree of caution

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Belize. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to a high rate of violent crime throughout the country.

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION – The bottom line for Canadian travellers is that there are scores of countries listed on the Canadian Government site that are affected by various warnings or Travel Advisories. Actually every destination that I can think of is affected by some degree of risk, not least of all our immediate neighbour the United States (think guns and mass shootings, attacks and threats in Orlando and California and snipers in Dallas).

Will you stop travelling? Your choice. Everyone has their comfort level and a few may choose to stay home in Canada rather than run the risk of what happened in Nice yesterday or Orlando last month. There are also many travellers who hold the view that the very nature of a terrorist attack means that it can happen anywhere, even back home, and travel regardless.

If you have booked a trip and the Canadian Government advice is Exercise a High Degree of Caution (as it now does for France) you really have to go with what you personally are comfortable with. There is no point going away somewhere if you are constantly worried and in fear.  That definitely is not a vacation.  Despite Nice, many travellers will of course continue with their travel plans to Europe, as will I at the end of August when I will be visiting one of my favourite cities, Paris.  I can do no better than quote the following advice from the Canadian Government relating to a high risk level “Travel Advisory” situation (currently not the risk level for France). Check the Government advice and the risk level against your own personal threshold – it’s your decision!

Should I cancel my trip if a Travel Advisory has been issued?

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the individual. You are strongly advised to follow the Government of Canada’s official travel advice to ensure your personal safety and security. It is up to the individual to decide what constitutes “non-essential travel,” based on family or business requirements, knowledge of a country or region, and other factors.

Cancelling a scheduled trip could cost you money, so check with your travel agent, travel insurer, or airline/tour operator first. Travel insurers generally take into account the government’s Travel Advisories when determining their refund policy, but they have no legal or contractual obligation to do so.
Not afraid



She’d trip up on her own spit

That’s what my Dad used to say about my Nana.  It seems like every time we arrived to visit her in Birmingham England she would have something in plaster of Paris.  Either an arm or a leg.  If the truth were known she probably had osteoporosis – but we didn’t know about things like that in those days.  My Dad wasn’t very sympathetic.  Once after a long visit to us in Cornwall on the day before she was supposed to leave she tripped again and broke her arm.  Off we went to the hospital and while she was having the cast put on my Dad said (in the hearing of the nurse) -” Well she should be OK in time to get the train tomorrow.”

“Mr Holland” said the nurse all shocked “your mother has just broken her arm!”  Not to be outdone my Dad replied “Yes exactly – it’s not like she broke her leg”!

Oh my goodness, those old family tales.  We made him feel bad for years after that.

Well I followed in the family tradition yesterday and tripped while I was out running.  Not on my own spit however – but courtesy of those uneven paving stones we find in our suburbs.  No breaks but possibly a torn rotator cuff.  It got me thinking however of all the things that you never think will happen but do and how these can happen when you are far from home on vacation.  I always make a point of taking my running shoes and have enjoyed jogs along the rivers of Europe and the suburbs of Johannesburg but what would happen if I tripped and fell and did more than just tear my rotator cuff?  I would certainly be glad of the travel insurance I always take before I travel.

But I am not going to bore you with the stories of people who saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking travel insurance – let’s rather look at the funny side with these hilarious travel insurance claims filed – courtesy of Globelink International.  These are some of my favourites –

The pensioner whose false teeth fell out of his mouth while he was vomiting over the side of a cruise ship, put in a claim to his travel insurers and in the claim form chose the option “lost baggage”.

A young British tourist got distracted by a flock of girls in bikini and broke his nose when he walked into into a bus stop in Athens. Insurance company paid for his trauma care.

A tourist in Sri Lanka needed hospital treatment after a coconut fell on her head when she was reading a book in shade of the palm. Insurance company covered her medical expenses.

A couple on vacation in Malaysia returned to their cabin and found that monkeys took their clothes and scattered them all across the local rain forest. Thankfully, the insurance company paid their claim.


To laugh about silly accidents and funny encounters you need to feel safe. Don’t forget to get your travel insurance, so you could enjoy to the fullest every comical moment of your future journey.