Being away from family and climbing in and out of suitcases can take its toll. Now throw in something like a cancelled flight, lost luggage, or yikes — a hospital visit, and travelling can become stressful!

Most employer group plans don’t have the host of benefits that individual travel insurance plans do. Furthermore, some employer group plans may cover you on your business trip only, and may not cover you for that well-deserved vacation you have tacked on while you are at your destination. Evaluate what travel insurance you may have in place already (including the benefits on your credit card) and pay special attention to the exclusions and limitations. And, for the self-employed who often don’t have a group plan, the need is even more significant and the cost of the coverage is likely tax deductible.

"Note though that not all polices have the same benefits so you need to discuss your needs with your travel insurance professional."

It starts from home

Travel insurance provides coverage for before and during the business trip. Let’s explore some of the benefits of travel insurance before the flight even takes off. Imagine this scenario: you have booked yourself to a conference or a business meeting and it gets cancelled. If you had purchased trip cancellation insurance, you may be eligible to claim for the non-refundable flight and hotel costs!

In addition, what if your passport or your travel visa was not issued in time. If the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada issues a written formal travel warning before your departure date advising to avoid all or non-essential travel to your destination, you may also claim for the prepaid unused portion of the trip that is non-refundable and non-transferable to another travel date.

While there are specific rules around claiming for these benefits, travel insurance is designed to cover you for unforeseen and unexpected circumstances. Note though that not all polices have the same benefits so you need to discuss your needs with your travel insurance professional.

Help when it counts

For all business travellers, having travel insurance is crucial if they become injured or sick. Our provincial government plans (GHIP) cover us for only about 9 percent in the event that we need to be hospitalized while away. Travel insurance companies assist with those little things that could make a difference.

Calling the toll-free 24/7 emergency hotline will result in an immediate triage process, where they will help with referrals to a doctor or other health care specialists, chiropractors, dentists, walk-in clinics, urgent care centres or hospitals, all while arranging for direct billing (where possible) where the business traveller should not need to worry about any financial fallout. With more and more business travel taking us to remote places around the world, having proper travel insurance provides comfort in a moment of panic.

The assistance specialists will even keep the family informed, and provide assistance in obtaining legal help, obtaining prescription drugs, and even lost or stolen airline tickets. If medically necessary, they will arrange for commercial return transportation home, including air ambulance services if required.

Added benefits

Some other benefits to look for in travel insurance that are great for the business traveller include some cost-effective benefits such as rental car collision damage insurance. The cost is typically a fraction of what the car rental company would charge at the counter.

For frequent travellers, look closely at obtaining a multi-trip travel insurance plan, a policy designed to be purchased once a year and it provides for an unlimited number of trips. As a bonus, many of these multi-trip plans will provide you with unlimited trips within Canada for free.

Travel insurance provides peace of mind for a carefree business trip, and if something unexpected happens, you will be pleased to have trained professionals to turn to for help.