Last April, the Ontario government first announced a plan to exclude Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage for emergency medical services while travelling outside of Canada. As of January 1, 2020 OHIP officially changed its out of country travel health coverage for Ontarians, confirming it will no longer provide any coverage for travellers (aside from kidney dialysis).
It’s an issue that may arise as you discuss travel plans with clients, but more importantly, it’s a conversation starter for a broader discussion about the misconceptions of provincial health care coverage. Travel advisors should use this as an opportunity to remind travellers of the importance of always purchasing travel insurance.
What the OHIP Changes Mean
While the announcement garnered a lot of attention, realistically, it is not very impactful for travellers because existing OHIP coverage currently covers a negligible percentage of out-of-country medical expenses – just five per cent. The bottom line: The need for travel insurance remains as important as ever.
Canada Travel is No Exception
Canadians may also need to be reminded that once they step outside their home province or territory, their government health insurance plan (GHIP) coverage is limited, even if they are travelling domestically.
Travelling within our own nation may give Canadians a false sense of security, which might result in some travellers not fully appreciating the potentially high losses (medical and financial) that could be incurred, should emergency medical services be required. Some examples of incidentals that aren’t always covered by GHIP when a traveller leaves their home province include ambulance rides, prescription drugs and transportation back to their home.
Canadians can check with their home province's health services department to find out how much out-of-province coverage GHIP provides. They will likely find that the medical benefits covered under government plans are inadequate for their travel needs, making obtaining travel insurance a smart move.
The Onus is on the Traveller
Long before the changes to OHIP’s policy were communicated, the federal government issued a statement reminding anyone leaving the country to obtain travel insurance. The Ontario government communicates the same message on its website, and travellers need only flip to the last page of their passport to find the statement, “It is wise to arrange for travel health insurance before you go.”
Whichever plan they choose, travellers are encouraged to always read a travel insurance policy with care in order to understand the benefits, exclusions and limitations. When they have questions, an agent is the ideal source to provide clarification and reliable guidance so they fully understand their coverage.
Sell Travel Insurance With Confidence
“I have a pre-existing condition – how does it affect my coverage?”
“What if I already have coverage somewhere else, like through my employee group plan or a credit card? Do I still need to buy this?"
Advisors can learn everything they need to know about selling travel insurance with EASY, a simple yet essential online learning and development program available exclusively to partners of Allianz Global Assistance. Why agents should enroll:
- Become well positioned to explain the full potential of benefits (both medical and financial) that specific travel insurance products offer.
- Ease of learning: A clear path to acquire the skills necessary to confidently offer travel insurance. EASY modules offer interactive content and run through common scenarios.
- Gain expertise: The ability to select the product best suited to your client’s needs.
- Maximize sales potential with knowledge and tips on cross-selling and upselling.
Find out more at: allianz-assistance.ca/en_CA/partners/travel-agencies
* Source: Proposed Amendment to Ontario Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act. Travel insurance does not cover everything. For complete terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of coverage travellers should always refer to their policy. Allianz Global Assistance, a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd., is one of the largest travel insurance and assistance providers in Canada.