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BMO Insurance Study: Canadians Without Travel Insurance Risk Unexpected Vacation Costs

- Six-in-ten Canadians do not regularly purchase travel insurance before travelling; only half know they're primarily responsible for any medical costs when outside the country

- Forty per cent of respondents reported that they, or a travel companion, have required medical attention while on vacation

- Cost of a broken leg can cost up to US$20,000 in the U.S.; an air ambulance trip from Florida to Ontario can run to US$15,000

- BMO offers tips on how to select a travel insurance policy



TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 5, 2012) - BMO Insurance today released the results of its Summer Travel Insurance Study which found that, while many Canadians are turning their thoughts to summer vacation plans, only 41 per cent who travel purchase travel insurance on a regular basis. This is despite the fact that four in ten Canadians reported that, at some point in their lives, either they or a companion have required medical attention while travelling.

The study revealed that Canadians love to travel. Over the last 12 months:

  • More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians travelled within Canada or to the U.S.
  • Over four in ten (43 per cent) travelled overseas

"It's critical that Canadians ensure they have the proper medical coverage before travelling," said Julie Barker-Merz, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, BMO Insurance. "While Canadians can sometimes be covered under the terms of their credit card or workplace healthcare plan, they need to be certain that the correct insurance is in place given the high cost of medical services that can be incurred while away from home."

The costs associated with medical care abroad can be daunting without adequate travel medical insurance. For example, a broken leg in the United States can cost up to US$20,000, an air ambulance from Florida to Ontario US$15,000 and treatment for decompression sickness in Thailand up to US$40,000.

On the question of who pays for medical costs:

  • Only half of Canadians (50 per cent) correctly identified that those travelling outside of Canada without medical insurance are themselves responsible for covering the vast majority of medical expenses
  • Two in ten (21 per cent) believe their provincial or the federal government pays the bill
  • Eleven per cent believe their workplace healthcare plans pick up the tab when somebody gets sick on the road

"Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime so it's important to ensure you are not at financial risk should an unfortunate event occur," said Ms. Barker-Merz. "Just like packing sunscreen and cancelling the newspaper before leaving home, making sure you have travel medical insurance should be a high-priority item on any traveler's 'vacation to-do list'."

Ms. Barker-Merz noted that even when travelling to another province within the country, Canadians may not be fully covered for all costs associated with any required medical attention.

BMO offers insight on what Canadians should consider when selecting a travel insurance policy:

  • Get enough coverage: Basic travel insurance will cover things like lost luggage, trip cancellation and missed connections, but may not include seeing a doctor. Look for a travel medical policy that includes medical and dental coverage, air ambulance, private duty nurse expenses and airfare and lodging for a family member to fly out to be by your side.
  • Understand who pays: Some insurers pay the doctor directly while others require the traveler to pay up front and then get reimbursed at a later date. Know this beforehand to avoid confusion at your time of need.
  • Read the fine print: Make sure your insurance policy covers you for all your trip activities and is valid for the duration of your trip. Be sure to clarify any issues with the insurer before leaving home. Keep a copy of the policy for your records and the contact information for your insurance company.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara with a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over, between June 14-18, 2012.

For more information on BMO Travel Insurance:

www.bmo.com/home/personal/banking/insurance/travel

Get the latest BMO press releases via Twitter by following @BMOmedia

Media contacts:
Amanda Robinson, Toronto
416-867-3996
amanda.robinson@bmo.com

Ronald Monet, Montreal
514-877-1873
ronald.monet@bmo.com

Laurie Grant, Vancouver
604-665-7596
laurie.grant@bmo.com