How my travel insurance measures up

Concept - healthcare in Africa

As my husband and I contemplate retirement, more travel is high on our “To Do” list. So I decided to check out our existing travel insurance to see what exactly we have and if we need to buy enhanced coverage on a per trip basis. I am particularly concerned with “pre-existing condition” clauses and how they are applied.

Currently we have three kinds of overlapping coverage (described in more detail at the end of this article):


On reviewing all three available forms of coverage, my initial reaction was that my retiree medical insurance is the most comprehensive and the best deal.

That’s because it doesn’t cost me anything and it’s good for trips up to 180 days. However, we are eligible for benefits only if pre-existing or pre-diagnosed conditions are completely stable at the time of travel.

In contrast, at age 65 my credit card insurance will only cover us for jaunts up to 8 days and any pre-existing conditions must be stable for 180 days.

The annual policy allows up to 30 days of travel for insured clients of all ages but pre-existing conditions are excluded for 365 days. Furthermore, no pre-existing heart or circulatory problems are covered even if they are stabilized on medication. And the real kicker with this policy which now costs about $188/year is that at age 65, the annual premium increases to $690!

I asked Martin Firestone, President of Travel Secure to take a look at the three kinds of coverage and identify any gaps. I was surprised when he said, “The Green Shield policy scares me big time. There is no stability period, yet pre-existing conditions have to be stable. If you had any changes in the last year, I’d worry.”

He continued, “You know your annual or group retiree plan might cover you, but association/group plans are part of a large pool and you can never tell on what day you will catch an underwriter and what their position will be.”

He also noted that he can arrange coverage for people with pre-existing conditions providing their condition has been stable for 7 days.

We will be keeping his advice in mind when planning future travel. As long as our health is stable, with our existing, overlapping coverage it may not make sense to continue paying for the annual Wide Horizon policy when the Green Shield policy is so comprehensive, particularly for longer trips.

However, if we have any medication changes or test results that could be characterized as potentially serious, pre-existing conditions, we will consider additional individual coverage better tailored to our personal needs. And I’ll definitely keep Marty’s number on speed dial!

Capital One Aspire Travel MasterCard

 Covered for trips up to 22 days, if under 65 years of age, and for trips up to 8 days, if 65 years of age or older at no additional charge.

  • $2 million max per person
  • Pre-existing condition means any medical condition for which symptoms appeared or one of us saw a doctor and had a diagnosis or further treatment or investigation recommended; for which medication was prescribed or altered:
  • In the 180 days before for insured people 74 and under
  • 365 days prior for insured people 75 and over
  • A pre-existing condition does not include a medical condition that was controlled by consistent use of medication prescribed by a doctor providing that, during the 180-day period or 365-day period, as applicable, before departure, there has been no other treatment or investigation recommended and there has been no change in medication. A new medication or increase/decrease in dosage is considered a change.


TD Meloche Monnex Wide Horizons Annual Policy

  • Covered for trips up to 30 days regardless of age
  • $5 million max per person
  • Currently costs $187.77/year; will increase to $690/year at age 65
  • Excludes any medical condition that is not stable for 365 days before travelling
  • Does not cover pre-existing heart or circulatory condition if taking a prescription or aspirin
  • A change in medication is considered instability.


Green Shields Retiree Coverage

  • Covered for trips up to 180 days regardless of age
  • $1 million combined lifetime max for the policy including travel, health, dental
  • No charge
  • Eligible for benefits only if pre-existing or pre-diagnosed conditions are completely stable (in the opinion of green Shield Canada Assistance Medical team) at the time of departure from province of residence
  • No stability period is specified
  • Cannot be waiting on tests or test results
  • Doctor has to approve stability to travel





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