Saturday, May 4, 2013

Travel Insurance Showdown: Expedia.ca vs Travelocity.ca

After two months of alternating between being out of the country and being sick, I am finally starting my reviews of select travel insurance policies. This week I am comparing the policies currently being offered by online travel giants Expedia.ca and Travelocity.ca (note the ".ca" part of the names -- this is specifically about the policies offered to Canadians). But first a few things to keep in mind...



Travel Medical Insurance is intended for emergency care, not routine or planned care. Do not expect it to help you get care at your favourite US cancer centre. It doesn't work like that. They will shoot that claim down faster then a rabid squirrel.

If your doctor tells you not to travel, then don't.

If you have symptoms before you travel, don't wait to see a doctor. Being in denial about your situation is not an insurable condition.

In general, medical coverage begins on the departure date and cancellation insurance coverage begins on the date of purchase (of the insurance). The pre-existing condition stability period is determined according to the coverage start date for each of these.

For the purpose of this review, I am assuming the purchaser is under 65, has provincial health coverage, has or has had cancer, and considers their condition to be stable. This review will help you to determine if your condition is stable enough and has been been stable enough for the required period of time to be covered by the insurer. It is up to you to decide if the policy covers all of your needs (for example, missed cruise ship disembarkation, additional pet boarding expenses, luggage delay or loss, etc.).

If you haven't read my previous post on travel insurance, Have Cancer Will Travel, then please do. And now lets begin!



Expedia.ca


Comprehensive Policy (combined Cancellation and Medical):
https://insurance.allianz-assistance.ca/terms_conditions/EXPEDIA_COMPREHENSIVE-ENG.pdf

Medical Insurance Policy:
https://insurance.allianz-assistance.ca/terms_conditions/EXPEDIA_EMERGENCYMEDICAL-ENG.pdf

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance Policy:
https://insurance.allianz-assistance.ca/terms_conditions/EXPEDIA_TripCancellation-ENG.pdf

Definition of Stable Condition
Any medical condition or related condition (including any heart condition or lung condition) for which all the following statements for that medical condition or related condition (including any heart or any lung condition) are true:
  • there has been no new treatment or prescribed medication;
  • there has been no change in treatment or change in prescribed medication (including the amount of medication to be taken, how often it is taken, the type of medication or change in treatment frequency or type);
  • there has been no new symptom, more frequent symptom or more severe symptom;
  • there have been no test results showing deterioration;
  • there has been no hospitalization or referral to a specialist (made or recommended) or the result of further investigations has not yet been completed.

Definition of Treatment
The medical advice, care and/or service provided by a physician. This includes, but is not limited to, diagnostic measures and prescription drugs (including pills and inhaled or injected medications). It does not include check-ups or cases where you have no specific symptoms.

Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Clause
The policy excludes claims resulting from:
  • Your medical condition or related condition, if at any time in the 90 days before your effective date, your medical condition or related condition has not been stable
  • Your lung condition, if at any time in the 90 days before you depart on your trip:
    • any lung condition has not been stable; or
    • you have been treated with home oxygen or taken oral steroids (prednisone or prednisolone) for any lung condition.
  • Any medical condition for which future investigation or treatment was planned before the effective date (other than routine monitoring).

First, I was pleased to see that this policy covers claims resulting from stable pre-existing conditions that are still being monitored and that may required continuing (and unchanging) medication and treatment. So essentially, if you have been receiving the same treatment for at least 90 days before you purchase your insurance and you are stable or improving, then your condition is stable enough for coverage under Trip Cancellation. For the purpose of Medical coverage, the 90 day period of stability would precede your departure date.

I did not find any blanket exclusions for those with metastatic or recurrent cancer. However, if you are likely to need a change in treatment or hospitalization in the near future, I would exercise caution and speak with a representative of the company before purchasing any insurance.

Important notes: if you regularly take prednisone for a lung condition, your lung condition is not covered.



Travelocity.ca


Deluxe Package Policy (combined Trip Interruption and Medical):
http://www.rbcinsurance.com/travel/pdf/deluxe-package-single-trip-e.pdf

Classic Medical Insurance Policy:
http://www.rbcinsurance.com/travel/pdf/classic-medical-single-trip-e.pdf

Non-Medical Package Policy:
http://www.rbcinsurance.com/travel/pdf/non-medical-package-e.pdf

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance Policy: (*avoid)
http://www.rbcinsurance.com/travel/pdf/cancellation-interruption-e.pdf

Definition of Stable Condition
Any medical condition or related condition including any heart condition or any lung condition, (whether or not the diagnosis has been determined) for which there have been:
  • no new treatment, new medical management, or new prescribed medication; and
  • no change in treatment, change in medical management, or change in medication; and
  • no new symptom or finding, more frequent symptom or finding, or more severe symptom or finding experienced; and
  • no new test results or test results showing a deterioration; and
  • no investigations or future investigations initiated, or recommended for your symptoms; and
  • no hospitalization or referral to a specialist (made or recommended).

Definition of Change in Medication
The addition of any new prescription drug, the withdrawal of any prescription drug, an increase in the dose of any prescription drug or a decrease in the dose of a prescription drug.
Exceptions:
  • an adjustment in the dosage of insulin or Coumadin (Warfarin), if you are currently taking these drugs;
  • a change from a brand name drug to an equivalent generic drug of the same dosage.

Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Clause
This insurance does not pay for any expenses incurred directly or indirectly as a result of:
  • Your medical condition or related condition (whether or not the diagnosis has been determined), if at any time in the 90 days (*except Trip Cancellation Policy) before you depart on your trip, your medical condition or related condition has not been stable.
  • Your lung condition (whether or not the diagnosis has been determined), if at any time in the 90 days before you depart on your trip:
    • any lung condition has not been stable; or
    • you have been treated with or prescribed home oxygen (on a regular basis or on an as needed basis) or treated with or prescribed oral steroids (prednisone or prednisolone) for any lung condition.

Additional General Exclusion
This contract is void if you undertake your trip with the prior knowledge that you will require or seek treatment, surgery, investigations, palliative care or alternative therapy of any kind.

* First a warning, the Trip Cancellation Insurance sold through Travelocity.ca is inferior to the cancellation coverage that is included in all of their other policies. The Trip Cancellation (only) plan has a 180 day stability requirement and does not consider any condition stable if you take any medication for it (new or not, prescription or over-the-counter) or receive any treatment for the condition (even if that treatment is unchanged and has been successful). This alone would exclude even asthma from being covered by this plan. This plan is best suited to those in perfect health who take no medications at all. Their Non-Medical Package, however, is more reasonable and consistent with the other plans that are offered.

Now for the other plans. According to the wording of the policy, routine follow-up exams and scans would cause your condition to be considered unstable. For me, since I am currently being examined slightly more than twice a year (due to the number of doctors that want follow-ups) and having an MRI and mammogram every 12 months, this makes me uncoverable for most of the year. If your condition doesn't require scans and/or only requires follow up by a single doctor, then this plan may suit you.

Of special note is this special feature of their Deluxe Package:

If before your date of departure you are prescribed any change in medication or treatment that would make your medical condition not stable and therefore ineligible for coverage under our emergency medical coverages, you may apply for our special consideration of your particular medical circumstance through your Canadian representative [Travelocity in this case].

Note: Your medical condition must have been stable within the 90 days prior to the date your insurance premium is paid in order to apply for special consideration.
We will, at our discretion either:
  • accept your claim under our Cancellation & Interruption insurance; or
  • waive the exclusion that would make you ineligible for benefits under our emergency medical insurance, for the medical condition or related condition for which the change in medication or treatment that would make your medical condition not stable was prescribed to you.

In essence, if your condition was stable at the time of purchase and it worsens or you have a recurrence, the company will either cover the cost to cancel your trip or provide medical coverage for the duration of your trip (their choice).

Like the Expedia.ca policies, I did not find any blanket exclusions for people with metastatic or recurrent cancers. Lung conditions treated with prednisone or prednisolone are, likewise, not coverable under these policies.



The Verdict


I really like the policies that were put together for Expedia.ca as they are straight forward and consistent. Overall I would recommend these policies and I will likely purchase their Trip Interruption Insurance in the future (as I have travel medical insurance that has no pre-existing condition exclusions through my work).

Travelocity.ca does a disservice to customers by offering such an inferior Trip Cancellation policy. Their definition of stable is less reasonable due to on-going monitoring being considered treatment. It may still be possible to argue that monitoring of a stable condition should not exclude it from coverage, if you have the energy. For those who are not being closely monitored, Travelocity.ca's Deluxe Package is particularly attractive due to the special waiver that can be offered for medical coverage, as described above.

2 comments:

  1. I agree with the expedia coverage- they actually were quite helpful and when I called travelocity prior to my Vegas trip they didn't have the information to answer my questions. I totally agree with your Expedia.ca verdict

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