Before You Go – Travelling Out of Country

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It’s the time of year where many Canadians escape to warmer climates.  If you are thinking of planning a winter escape out of the country in the upcoming months, you should check with your workplace and/or benefits provider to confirm if you and your dependents have Emergency Out of Country Travel coverage.  Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you plan your trip:

Before you go: 

  • Make sure you have a valid passport for you, your spouse and your children, as well as any necessary visas you might require.  Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months after you return from your trip.
  • If you are travelling alone with your child or children and are crossing a border out of Canada, you will require a consent letter from the other birth parent.  Please visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website for a sample consent letter you can use:

  • Consult travel reports or warnings for the country you are considering visiting, for information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements and health conditions.

  • Certain countries, including some popular winter destinations, require all visitors to prove that they have out-of-country travel health insurance when they arrive in their country.  If your destination requires proof of your coverage, you can contact your employer or benefits consultant for a copy of a general letter that confirms your travel insurance coverage through your group plan.  Allow a week or two for production of this document.  Talk to your travel agent, or consult the website listed above to see if your destination country requires special proof of coverage upon entry.
  • Consult a travel health clinic or your physician six to eight weeks prior to travel for information about immunizations recommended for your destination country.
  • Leave your contact information, and a copy of both your itinerary and passports with a family member or friend, in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a medical condition or take medication, carry a copy of your medical history including the names and dosages of any medication you are currently taking.  If you are travelling with medication, make sure you leave it in its original packaging and that you have an ample supply for the duration of your trip.
  • Make sure you have your benefits ID card, which includes the emergency travel assistance number in case you or your family have a medical emergency while travelling.  Consult your benefits booklet before you leave for an overview of exactly what is covered under your policy, and any requirements by your insurer should a medical emergency arise.
  • You may wish to consider purchasing trip interruption or cancellation, loss of baggage or other insurance to protect yourself against the unexpected on your trip.  If you are booking your trip using a credit card, consult your credit card company to confirm if there is coverage already available to you as a cardholder.

In the event of an emergency:  

  • If you do find yourself in a medical emergency, call the 24 hour emergency phone number on the back of your ID card,  If you are unable to call for yourself, have a family member or travelling companion make the call for you as soon as they can.  You’ll need to have the following information available when you call:
    • Details of the emergency and the type of assistance you need
    • The plan member’s full name, group number, plan member certificate number and Emergency Travel Assistance number.  You’ll find all of this information on your ID card.
    • The patient’s name and provincial health insurance number

If, in the event of an emergency, the healthcare facility in your destination country asks you for payment up front or to surrender your passport, please call the number on the back of your ID card as soon as possible.  The insurer will always attempt to make direct billing arrangements with the healthcare provider on your behalf.

Happy travelling!