How to Compare Travel Medical Insurance Policies | AMA Travel

What to Look for When Comparing Travel Medical Insurance Policies

April 17, 2017

Not all travel medical insurance is created equal. Dig into the details and you’ll see some big differences emerge that could cost you down the road.

That’s because insurance policies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Some services, like work benefits and credit cards, bundle your travel medical coverage with health and disability benefits. While standalone policies, like AMA Travel Medical Insurance, give you extensive coverage specific to travel.

Number one thing to keep in mind? Get the coverage that makes sense for you and your family.

In the interest of saving you from reading too many policy booklets front to back, here are the key questions you should ask when comparing travel medical insurance plans.

Is there a cap or limit for air ambulance expense?

EXAMPLE: You’re skiing a challenging run in Whistler, B.C. and you lose your edge, sending you tumbling into the trees. It appears you have a spinal cord injury, so you’re airlifted to a hospital in Alberta. A full medical team and a helicopter cost a lot of money. In fact, a cross-Canada air ambulance bill can exceed $50,000. Ouch.

AMA provides up to $5 million in emergency medical services, including air ambulance.

Is there a cap or limit for costs related to return of deceased?

It’s the nightmare scenario that no one wants to think about. If you die on vacation, there are considerable expenses involved with preparing your body, transporting you back home, and arranging your burial. Don’t leave your family with the burden of paying a bill that could have been avoided.

AMA will cover the actual cost incurred for preparations of the deceased, return to home province, or up to $10,000 for burial or cremation at the last place of death.

Do I need to pay for my medical expenses up front?

Imagine you slice your foot on a rock while swimming in the ocean on your beach vacation. You spend the afternoon in a local hospital getting patched up. When the time comes to handle your medical bill, it can go one of two ways: 1) you pay the bill up front, collect and send in the receipts, and wait several months to get reimbursed. Not fun. Or 2) your insurance company will cover all the costs up front.

AMA provides direct payment to hospitals, physicians, and other medical providers wherever possible and submits your claim to the provincial health plan on your behalf.

Do you cover me for pre-existing medical conditions when I travel?

Pre-existing medical conditions are where travellers—especially older travellers—need to be careful when selecting a travel medical insurance plan. Keep in mind that in most cases, coverage will depend on how long the condition has been stable.

AMA has no exclusions for pre-existing conditions with the Canada Plan. For all other travel medical insurance plans, the only exclusions related to pre-existing conditions are:

  • AGE 54 & UNDER. Any sickness, injury, or medical condition that is not stable in the 3 months prior to each departure date. Includes lung conditions treated with Prednisone.
  • AGE 55 – 69. Any sickness, injury, or medical condition that is not stable in the 3 months prior to each departure date.
  • AGE 70 & OVER. Any sickness, injury, or medical condition that is not stable in the 6 months prior to each departure date.

Am I covered for all the activities I want to participate in?

A vacation down in Cancun, Mexico wouldn’t be as exciting without an exhilarating zipline through the jungle. Before you sign those release forms, make sure to check which activities are protected in your plan. And which ones are little too extreme for your travel medical insurance coverage.

AMA will cover you for scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, even bungee jumping. However, for activities like parasailing, hang-gliding, sky diving, you'll want to protect yourself against losses with Personal Accident Insurance.

Is there a lifetime maximum for my coverage, including travel claims?

EXAMPLE: A retired couple from Alberta who spend the winters down in Arizona. Their work pension benefits package has a $500,000 lifetime maximum for health and travel medical claims. They spend $8,000 a month on diabetes medication. It’d be in the couple’s best interest to purchase a standalone travel medical insurance policy. Why? If they were to get sick or injured in Arizona, their retiree benefits maximum would dry up—meaning they wouldn’t have coverage left to pay for diabetes drugs.

AMA will coordinate payment of all eligible travel medical claims with your other insurance if the lifetime maximum is over $100,000.


Get the travel medical insurance you need

Whether it’s a road trip to B.C. or a European vacation, AMA Travel Medical Insurance gives you the most affordable, comprehensive coverage you can buy. Plus, members save 10%.

>>Browse Travel Medical Insurance Plans

About the Author
David Little
David Little is the digital copywriter for AMA Travel. One of his favourite reasons for travel? Meeting new people and exchanging funny, scary, and bizarre stories from the road.