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Holiday hiccup: When your travel insurance doesn't cover your bills
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By Barbara EasthopeIn blog, blogsOn Saturday 28th Jul, 2018

Holiday hiccup: When your travel insurance doesn't cover your bills

A lake near Timmins in Ontario, Canada – Barbara's home for almost two months. Source: Getty

I am in my final week now of a two-month stay in Canada, seeing my grandkids. I can certainly say this trip has been different.

I left Australia feeling great, but by about my second day in Canada the cough started. Three weeks later I realised it just wasn’t going away and headed to the emergency department at the local hospital, after discovering most doctors won’t see a drift-in patient – particularly one from overseas who doesn’t have Canadian health cover and whose travel insurance company might want heaps of paperwork. I required two more trips and on the last needed a CAT scan, and it’s here I met the flaw in travel insurance. 

On many policies if you are hospitalised the insurer will pick up the tab after your expenses reach a certain level – on my policy that level was $2,000. The emergency visits were all $890 Canadian each, but the CAT scan was more than $1,200 on top of this. And I had to decide almost immediately if I wanted it. A call to the insurers revealed that they would have to do a medical assessment first before agreeing to pay in advance for it – not a viable option with doctors poised, waiting for a 'Yes' or 'No'.

Thankfully, I agreed to have the scan and although it didn’t show what they thought it would, it quite accidentally picked up an unwelcome patch on my pancreas that is to be investigated as soon as I get home. I have yet to claim from travel insurance as I thought it best to wait until I get home. I guess I write this as a bit of a cautionary tale, to ensure people have a plan to get extra money instantly if they need it. My travel budget didn’t have a $4,500 surplus, but fortunately I could easily access funds from home.

Even beyond the joy of catching up with family, my trip has been fabulous. Great scenery, wildlife, lovely people and great experiences. 

I spent the majority of my time in Northern Ontario, in a city called Timmins, but before I left the Toronto area I had two shopping trips with my daughter-in-law to great outlet malls: one called Outlet Collection at Niagara and the other Vaughan Mills. Among many other drives and days out we also had trips to Kapuskasing, Parry and the interestingly named Swastika!

I’ve seen moose, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, sand crane, loons, geese, ducks and deer. I’ve witnessed the comings and goings of the tiny hummingbirds to the feeder by the window, helped find a safe spot for a baby flying squirrel who didn’t make it back to safety before daybreak, and had a much-too-close encounter with a bear as we both gave each another a scare when we nearly collided! 

I hope to be back – but next time in autumn, as the scenery to and from Sault Ste. Marie (another city in Ontario) is spectacular and the colours of autumn would make it even better. I'll also make sure I have more time to investigate the bays and lakes in the Lake Superior Provincial Park with more leisure.

Barbara Easthope
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