Insurance may not be top-of-mind, but experts warn it should be as essential as packing your passport. “People in general don’t think about what could go wrong on a trip, especially the younger generations,” says Erin Finn, Director of Underwriting for RSA Insurance.

“When traveling for business you might assume your company is taking care of everything. The people I’m most worried about are self-employed who have no corporate coverage at all,” she says. If something does go wrong, having the right travel insurance can make all the difference in avoiding catastrophe.

“Read your contract and ask questions if unsure so there are no surprises.”

“Whether purchasing insurance for business or personal travel, it’s important to look at your individual needs and then research what cover - age is appropriate,” says Karen Voin, Director of Health and Dental for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. “In fact, you might find you also have some coverage through your employee benefits plan or credit card.”

Utilizing your coverage

Travel insurance comes in various forms, including emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption, and lost or stolen baggage.

While you may have medical coverage through your employer plan, these are typically for trips of 30 days duration, says Finn, and “you may need to top up this coverage if you expect a trip of longer duration.”

One issue that arises over out-of-country health coverage, claims being denied based on exclusions in a policy, has received a good deal of media coverage as of late.

One of the most common is what’s called “pre-existing conditions.” In essence, if you have a medical condition for which you’re being treated, and it’s deemed the cause of any medical claim you make while away, it may not be covered by your travel insurance.

“This is an area where you need to do some research and ask questions,” says Finn. “You may need your doctor’s assistance with the information and questions you’re being asked in your application.”

Doing your due diligence

CLHIA’s Voin stresses that consumers take the time not only to assess their own needs, but also to do their research. Once you’ve selected a policy, “read your contract and ask questions if unsure so there are no surprises.”

Micki Kosman , along with her husband and young family in Kamloops B.C. are veteran and avid travellers. “When we started on our first major trip, we found there were no good websites to compare different companies and their policies,” she says.

From that experience the couple started the Canadian Travel Insurance Review web site. It provides basic information on a number of companies offering travel insurance, as well as other information and tips on travel insurance as well as links for those consumers seeking more detailed information and quotes.

“There’s a lot of confusion about insurance,” Kosman says. “We don’t sell travel insurance, we provide people with information.”

Finn adds that the emergency assistance number on the insurance wallet card can offer help with a variety of situations that may arise while traveling.

“Everything from a climate emergency that leaves you stranded to help with foreign language translation when seeking help.”