Las Vegas shooting underscores need for travel insurance

When travelling abroad Canadians are on the hook for their own medical costs, even in emergency situations.
When travelling abroad Canadians are on the hook for their own medical costs, even in emergency situations. AP Photo/Matt York

Travelling abroad and ending up in a foreign hospital can be financially devastating. Even in tragic events like the mass shooting in Las Vegas, medical assistance comes at a cost.

“The government or even the provinces won’t come and pay for your health care outside the country,” said Robin Ingle, CEO of Ingle Worldwide, a firm which specializes in travel insurance. “It’s your responsibility to have protection for coverage.”

Ingle said in the case of the shooting in Las Vegas, travel insurance would be applicable to cover those who were affected.

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“You’re not putting yourself in harm’s way,” Ingle said. “You’re an accidental participant in this, so definitely the insurance companies will rally around to help you.”

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“A number of insurers and emergency assistance groups are taking care of Canadians that were both injured [and] traumatized by this event.”

The cost of not having travel insurance can add up very quickly. Ingle said U.S. hospitals charge for everything from the bed you’re laying in, to each and every Aspirin you’re given. The more serious the injury, the more it’ll cost.

“If you’re in a situation where you’re kept alive in a coma, for example, because of a certain event, that can be multimillion-dollars,” Ingle said. “Most Canadian policies today will pay $5 to $10 million, so you’re more than covered with the plans that are available out there.”

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Ingle said while some still choose to travel on a “wing and a prayer” without any insurance, uptake in travel insurance is quite high among Canadians. In fact, he said Canadians buy more travel insurance per capita than any other group around the world.

“I think that came because of the cost-shifting the provinces did back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There was a lot of publicity [for people to] get travel insurance.”

Ultimately, Ingle believes there’s no reason for people to travel uninsured.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, there is an affordable product for you.”

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