Taboo Tuesday: Do you know what your travel insurance really covers?

Let's face it, most people don't spend too much time thinking about their travel insurance.

Even people who travel somewhat regularly likely couldn't tell you the specifics of their travel insurance coverage. Many people assume that the travel insurance they might have through their employer benefits or their credit card company will be adequate for what might befall them on holiday.

But assuming that's the case can be dangerous.

Imagine finally embarking on that trip of a lifetime, the one that takes you to an exotic destination, or lets you tick one more thing off your bucket list, only to wind up in the hospital, and potentially, on the hook for a massive hospital bill that exceeds your existing travel insurance coverage limit.

In fact, nightmare scenarios involving hospital stays, pain medication and other health care costs are more common than you think, according to Neil Henderson, Manager, TD Insurance.

"Falling ill while away is a common concern among travelers," he said. " According to a recent TD survey, 35 per cent of baby boomers say they or someone they’ve vacationed with has had a travel emergency, such as an injury that required a trip to the doctor. In these cases, having additional insurance can help reduce stress and avoid potentially devastating financial consequences."

For many Canadians who are accustomed to our health care system, the costs associated with similar care in other parts of the world can come as a shock.

In the United States, for example, medical treatment for a heart attack, or even injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

And while the primary reason many people consider purchasing travel insurance is to help pay the costs of medical expenses should they arrive, there are other benefits to travel insurance as well.

"When you purchase travel medical insurance, it's important to find out if you'll receive more than just financial coverage," says Henderson. 

For example, depending on your policy you could qualify for assistance with unforeseen challenges like finding an expert to be a point of contact or translator between the hospital and your family, to hiring an air ambulance, and, in extreme scenarios, arranging early travel home.

"Your travel insurance could help with the added complexity of being in an unfamiliar situation. The experience of going to an emergency room at home versus one in another country is not comparable," he added.

To ensure your travel insurance coverage fits your needs, it's important to ask yourself a few questions:

Is your coverage enough? If you have travel insurance through employer benefits or your credit card company, don't assume that you have adequate coverage. Review your policy in detail so you know exactly what you're covered for.

Is your coverage right for you? Think about your personal situation - ask questions, such as: how many days am I covered for? If I were to have a medical emergency while away, in what ways would my insurer help me?

Has your coverage changed? Coverage can change based on various factors such as age, changes in medical history, or policy updates. If you have any questions, give your insurance advisor a call.