The Family Talk You Need To Have

talk to your family about insurance

Today we’re going to tell you a story. Not that it could happen to you. These things always happen to other people.

This story is fictional but based on real events. It’s a great example of why we need to ask the none of your business questions and talk to your family about insurance.

Paul and Mary Robson are 60-years-old and still paying off the mortgage on their family home. They both still work so that they can retire mortgage-free and, hopefully, with a little extra cash. They’re running low on savings but still hope they can take a trip somewhere warm next Spring. 

Paul and Mary get a phone call from their son, Mike: his two-year-old, Andrew -their grandson- has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

Treatments are to begin immediately – at a hospital that’s hours away from home.

Panic has set in. Mike is beside himself. His wife and other two children are packing right now. 

Paul and Mary are frozen. They get off the phone, hug each other, and cry. 

After long trips to the hospital, food, and accommodation, loss of income for Mike and his wife, childcare costs for the other kids, medication, and comfort items for Andrew, the bills add up fast. Even with help from family and friends, the costs were staggering.

A bank friend asks Mike if he has critical illness coverage on his spouse or children. He doesn’t. But he remembers his parents getting some sort of coverage on their grandkids, last year.

He calls Paul and Mary who call their financial advisor. It turns out that yes, The Robsons had gotten coverage on all three grandkids: Critical Illness Insurance

Thirty days after Andrew’s diagnosis, the paperwork is off. His condition qualifies under the definitions and The Robsons receive a cheque for $100,000.

The Robsons consider themselves extremely blessed. Mike cannot imagine the stress other families feel when their costs are not covered. His marriage was at the breaking point and money wasn’t even an issue.

We couldn’t write this post without crying. Although the story above is fictional, it is based on real-life and it happens. Take the time to help your loved ones realize the importance of covering their bases.

It may not happen to you, but it will happen to someone.

 We need to ask the none of your business question and talk to our family – parents, siblings, and kids – about insurance.

Can I Get Insurance If I Use Marijuana Medicinally?

can i get insurance if i use medical marijuana

Can I get insurance if I use marijuana medicinally? Yes. The biggest concern will be about the condition you’re using it to treat. However, the more you use, the more your insurance may cost.

I thought this was an easy question until a medical marijuana company asked me to look into options for their patients. Legalization made some changes around insurance and medicinal marijuana and the industry is divided.

When you’re filling out an insurance application,  they’ll ask if you use marijuana in any capacity. The first thing the insurance company is trying to figure out is if it’s medical or recreational use.

They’ll be more concerned if it’s for medicinal use because of the underlying factor. But, in specific to the medicinal marijuana that you’re using, you’ll just have to fill out a Drug Questionnaire Form.

They’ll ask how many grams you use, your method of use – smoke, oils, edibles, etc. – and why you chose this method of treatment.

The insurance industry has changed in that regular marijuana users – or in any capacity, really – got smokers rates.

If you’re not familiar, people who get smoker’s rates on their insurance policy generally pay double what everyone else pays. Now, we’ve found a number of companies that may charge you extra for heavy use but won’t call you a smoker. The fact that marijuana users aren’t always getting classified as smokers is a big deal in the industry!

One of the things that haven’t been figured out yet is ‘times’ vs ‘joints’ per week.

When we say ‘times’ per week we’re asking literally, how many times you smoke/spray/etc. When we say ‘joints’ we’re talking about a standard size joint – the size of a cigarette.

It gets confusing because, if you’re not a heavy user or you’re only using a little bit at a time, it’s a hard question to answer.

Because of that, I always tell clients to be upfront with their agents and tell them from the beginning. Then, your agent can look into the companies that know marijuana is a medicine and will accommodate.

Unfortunately, when it comes to getting insurance FOR medicinal marijuana, I don’t have great news.

Medical marijuana can’t be put under the ‘prescription drug’ section of your health plan because it doesn’t have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). I haven’t (yet!) found a health plan that offers coverage specifically for medical marijuana.

I did reach out to MSP to see if they had any plans to help and unfortunately they don’t have any plans to help anytime soon.

I’d encourage you to continue looking into these options. It’s not looking great today but we’re hoping to see more and more changes.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future. It takes time and money to put in plans like this, but it’s worth it to know your family will be taken care of.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Whether it’s for work or fun, travel insurance often gets brought up when you’re going away. Not sure if you even need to get it? Visit our blog post on that on that first. If you’re sure you need it but are wondering what does travel insurance cover and are confused about the situation, you’re in the right spot! 

Travel Insurance covers you for extra expenses you might have if something bad happens on your trip.  

You’ll have the option to cover everything from cancelling your trip after you’ve paid for non-refundable hotel and airfare, to ending up in the hospital after an accident or catching a serious bug. You can even get coverage if the airline loses your luggage and leaves you with one pair of underwear. 

Now, I make light of it with the one pair of underwear thing, but people’s lives have been ruined over an out of country hospital bill forcing them to declare bankruptcy. 

However, you may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans that you’re a part of could also be used in this situation. Make sure you take a look at what you’re actually covered for and how much before you leave. 

For example, some credit card companies offer travel insurance, but only if you booked your trip using that credit card. Others will only cover you in certain, extreme situations and all plans have a maximum amount of money they’ll pay 

If you have multiple plans that cover you – for example, coverage through your credit card AND you’ve bought separate travel insurance – the contracts will tell you who the “First Payer is. That’s the Insurance Policy that has to pay you first. You’ll submit your bill/receipt to that company and they’ll pay you based off of what the contract says. If they pay the whole thing, your second policy WILL NOT pay you. If the First Payer doesn’t cover your whole bill, THEN you can send the remainder to the next insurance company. You cannot have one bill paid by 2 companies. 

Keep in mind, most plans WILL NOT cover you if you’re intoxicated when you get hurt. 

For Canadians, each province has their own health plan. Just because you’re a Canadian resident does not mean you’ll be as covered in other provinces as you are by your own Province’s health plan. Provincial health care coverage is required for these individual plans, so make sure your account is up to date. Plan accordingly.  

Travel Insurance is there to cover the expenses of getting hurt in another Country or Province. You don’t pay into other Country’s medical system like you do in Canada through MSP (or equivalent) and taxes, so you have to pay that Country’s full price. And it can be very expensive. 

Ending up in the Hospital or passing away and needing to transport your body home are the most expensive things you’ll want to cover. Like I said, you’ll have to pay full price for any hospital and medical attention you require.  

Travel insurance covers a number of things. Here are a few you might want offered in your plan: 

  • Emergency MedicalEvents or sickness that could land you in the hospital, Doctor’s office, etc. 
  • Trip cancellation and InterruptionGetting your money back if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip or having to book a hotel if you flight is delayed.
  • Baggage loss, damage, or delayTo keep clothes on your back if your baggage is delayed or to replace items if it gets lost
  • Travel accident including death and dismembermentpassing away in another country is VERY expensive. Your body needs to be processed and specially transported back home. 

Travel Insurance is certainly worth it, but it’s not mandatory. The chances of having to use your insurance is quite low. The risk you’re taking on however, is MUCH greater than if you were at home and put in the same situation. 

There are 2 MOST IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance: 

  1. How to claim: know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that will be hard to get once you’re back home. 
  2. You’ll probably have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash! 

 

Looking for a travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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Should I buy travel insurance if I’m just visiting family?

We’d been planning this trip since we first started dating. My husband is a Can-Aussie (that’s half Canadian, half Australian) and hadn’t been back to Australia since his early teens. So, at this point, it’d been about 10 years. He was pretty disappointed his Canadian wife didn’t know what a ‘real wave’ was 😆 

We found a crazy deal on plane tickets and, after 6 years together, finally booked our trip Down Under! We were incredibly excited. The bikinis were bought, bags were packed, pets were taken care of. But we hadn’t bought Travel Insurance. 

Our trip wasn’t going to be dangerous in any way – the main goal was visiting Family and jumping in waves. 

Australia is home to him and everything would be in English anyways. Plus, the trip was really expensive to bookWe didn’t want to waste our money on insurance because, honestly, it’s not like we’d have to use it. It’s not a dangerous country and we’d be with Family the entire time. 

But I was terrified of the snakes and spiders (the only ones we ended up seeing were in a zoo 😎) so I bought it just in case. 

5 days into our 3 week long trip, we were staying in this dingy hotel downtown and I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I’m in a horror movie. My face felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. I’d never had this before but was bawling from the sharp, throbbing pain in my jaw. 

First thing the next morning, we went to a walk-in clinic. They weren’t sure what was wrong ($150.00). So, thesent me to a Dentist ($300.00). This pain in my jaw would not go away. 

After plenty of xrays and questionnaires, the Dentist tells me my wisdom tooth was badly infected from a weird kind of cavity. My only option was to have it pulled on the spot ($215.00) and continue the trip on antibiotics ($80.00). 

She had me in and out of that chair in 5 minutes – seriously, this Dentist was incredible. 

Our emergency Dental coverage was $500 this cost $515. 

The emergency medical part of our plan covered the walk-in-clinic and the prescription drugs. 

This $20 travel insurance plan saved me a $730.00 bill from a surprise wisdom tooth infection. 

From the Dentist, we left on our 6hour journey to visit more Family.

Now, wherever I’m going, I will buy travel insurance.

I really hope you do too. 

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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Holy Toledo, traveling is expensive!! The planes, hotels, food, entertainment… it adds up so fast. We both know you worked REALLY hard to go on this vacation. So it can be super temping to try and save a few bucks however you can – even on a $20 travel insurance bill. That could be the cost for an entire experience! Do you really need to buy travel insurance? 

Well, that depends! I’m a huge advocate of buying it after that time I almost didn’t. But you don’t want to buy it if you don’t NEED to. 

Surprise! You may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans could also be helpful. Just take a look at what it actually covers you for before you leave; they likely won’t cover you in countries currently on the Canadian travel advisory list and there may be other limitations that surprise you. Learn more in our article on What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance.

No one wants to be pressured into buying something. So, rather than telling you why I think it’s important, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. How safe is the Country you’re going to? Check out the BC Gov Travel Advisory. Keep in mind, many travel insurance plans exclude certain countries and have other limitations.
  2. What’s your plan if you get sick while you’re there? Plan for anything from a cold to critical illnesses (heart attack, picking up a disease, etc.)
  3. If you break your leg, can your trip continue?
  4. What if your body decides now is the time to tell you you have a health concern? It happened to me!
  5. If you were in a car accident and ended up in the hospital, could you afford the bill?
  6. If you die while you’re there, your body will need to be processed and transported back. That costs thousands of dollars even for neighboring countries. Could your family afford that? 
  7. What’s your plan if you get sick and the airline won’t let you on the plane until you’re healthy? 

Now, of course, none of this is going to happen to you 😉 

But, if you’re concerned that it could, go ahead and get travel insurance. You can’t get it once you need it!  

If you’re under 60, it’s quite affordable. You’ll be offered a lot of options from coverage for the concerns above (Emergency Medical Coverage) to trip cancellation insurance, baggage insurance, and many more. 

Looking for a travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance

So, your Wanderlust got the better of you and you’re off on a new adventure! But adventure has a chance to go sideways, and that’s what you’re here to prepare for. It’s not super complicated, but there are a few things to know before buying travel insurance.

First, how often do you travel?

You’ll get to pick if you want to buy travel insurance for the one trip or coverage for the whole year. Buying by the year costs a bit more up front but if you’re going away a couple times in a year, you can save a lot!

When it comes to buying travel insurance, there are a number of things you may want to insure. The most important being accidents and emergencies (including death).

Driving back through the boarder with a broken leg after a day of shopping is one thing, but if you passed away unexpectedly, your body needs to be properly processed through the boarder – a surprisingly expensive event!

For short trips, what would happen if you ended up in the hospital from a serious accident?

For longer trips, add getting hurt or sick and needing to see a doctor before you can fly home to your list of concerns. There are plenty of other emergencies that could land you with a Doctor’s bill! (link to my travel story)

Less serious things to think of are trip cancellation insurance if you have to cancel unexpectedly, baggage insurance in case yours gets lost (to help buy fresh clothes/toiletries/etc.), and rental car protection.

Keep in mind, there are certain countries that Insurance companies will not cover you in. Specifically, countries with civil unrest or on the Canadian Government’s Travel Advisory.

There are exclusions to almost all Travel Insurance policies. You won’t be covered if you are intoxicated by liquor or drugs, skydiving, professional racing and other sports.

Traveling with medical conditions?

Make sure you disclose it to your insurance agent. There are companies that will cover you EVEN IF you have a health concern. Make sure that you look at what you policy’s “Stability Period” is. That’s the amount of time your condition needs to be stable for, before you can apply for insurance. It’s typically a 90-180 day period BEFORE YOU APPLY. This includes ANY changes to medication. If in doubt, ask to fill out a health declaration and get written approval from the insurer – your Insurance Broker can help with this.

 Whether the company looks at your medical history when you apply for the coverage or when you make a claim, they will find out if you have an existing condition. Honesty is the best way to make sure you receive the benefit if you need it.

Here’s where you can buy travel insurance:

  • An Insurance Agent/Broker: Some may sell travel policies.
  • Travel Agency: These professionals are not licensed in insurance but can still sell travel insurance.
  • Online: It can be much more difficult to make sure you get the right travel plan this way.

There are 2 IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance:

  1. How to claim: Know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that you won’t be able to get once you’re back home.
  2. You’ll likely have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash!

Whenever possible, call the Insurance Company’s Emergency number for assistance. This can help with choosing a hospital, accessing translation, and getting help with or arranging bill payment.

There can always be unexpected situations that we didn’t cover here. The best way to make sure you get the help you need, is to know what your contract says!

And that’s what to know before buying travel insurance! Hopefully you don’t have to use it, but it’s important to have just in case.

Happy Travels! 💃🕺

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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making a Claim

I’ve had to file a few Insurance and Government Benefit claims in the last few years. There are a number of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim!

I’ve been through this process 8+ times in the last 4 years (it was a chaotic season 😆) and have learned many lessons. I made a few mistakes that you can learn from when claiming benefits from a personally-owned policy, work group plan, and Government Programs like WCB/ICBC/E.I. It’s a big part of WHY I chose to work in this field. 

Making a claim – using your insurance policy or Government program – involves A LOT of paperwork and there’s room for error.

There are a lot of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim. Here are some tips that may help!

First, don’t wait to say you’re hurt!

Injuries can take a few days to develop. Document what happened either by going to the Doctor or filling out an incident report. I had an issue when I didn’t think a work accident was a big deal until a few days later. By that time, I couldn’t prove it happened at work. It’s especially important with a muscle injury which can be considered wear and tear of your body.

Next, keep a paper trail.

This is important! Carriers cannot and will not take your word that there was an accident or that you’re sick. You MUST document it properly. This could be an incident report at work, going to your Doctor, walk-in clinic or emergency room. Some companies may accept a report from a professional such as a massage therapist, chiropodist or chiropractor.

Continue to keep a paper-trail of your injury. Some people keep a journal of their pain, appointments, phone calls, etc. We found it really helpful when my husband was thrown from a ladder and we had a hard time getting coverage for the tissue damage he suffered. Journaling isn’t required, but it can save you some big headaches. Again, the companies will not take your word for it, so you need to continue to follow up with your Doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, or other licensed professional – Carrier will accept documentation from specific professionals, so check first.

Even while my husband was working after that ladder fall, he went to go to the Doctor every 2 weeks to get proper documentation on his pain because it didn’t feel right. It was his saving grace when, what we thought to be an easy-to-prove injury, was still denied. If he’d stopped going to the Doctor (even while his claims papers were being processed), we couldn’t have proved the extent of his injury to have the decision appealed. One more time for the people in the back: Claims Adjusters will not accept your word for it!

Specific to Disability insurance: You will not be covered for your full wage so make sure you have enough insurance AND an emergency fund!

Canada has an All Sources Maximum. That’s the total amount of money you can get from disability insurance, Government Benefits, and any other source COMBINED. Its 85% of your NET income. For example, if you’re getting a disability benefit from ICBC and you have accident insurance, together they can pay you a maximum of 85% of your income (after-tax).

You’re still out 15% of your income. Think about the extra expenses you’ll have because of your injury too – extra take-out, child-care, your partner taking time off work to help you, etc. We all know someone who’s been on disability – what were they worried about? This is why Emergency Funds are so important.

The 3rd mistake to avoid when making a claim is not asking for direction from the claim’s adjuster.

Adjusters have a lot of cases on the go. To make YOUR life easier, ask how long it’ll take when you’re waiting on an answer from them. They’ll probably be able to tell you it’ll be at least a few days/2 weeks/etc.
The process will be smoother if you’re on the same page.

I’ve also had adjusters that wouldn’t return my calls.
One time, I was almost cut off my benefit because my contact person wasn’t responding and the company thought they hadn’t received an update from me in weeks. That’s not a slam against adjusters – they have an incredible amount of work on their plates.

My rule of thumb is, if I can’t get a hold of them in over 2 weeks (not including how long they had told me I’d be waiting), I call in and ask to be transferred to a new adjuster. 

The last mistake I made was not knowing the contract.

You need to know your contract! Many points are standard through insurance contracts and Government disability benefit programs. Each source will have specific requirements when you make a claim. For example, when we went to Australia, I got traveler’s insurance. Being a realist (and having made this mistake already), I read the contract first. AND I’M GLAD I DID! I had a very painful, infected wisdom tooth 6 days into our 21-day trip and had to go to the dentist. I knew the contract and that I’d need a note from my dentist, including pictures, proving it was unexpected, emergency dental surgery. It would’ve been hard to get when I made the claim a month later! The tooth was pulled on the spot and getting reimbursed for my expenses was easy.

Contracts can be hard to understand. It’s why I’m such an advocate of having an Insurance Agent. Whether it’s an agent or a broker, having someone that you can call, rather than a 1-800 number, when you are in situations like this will make all the difference.

Remember, this is in no way legal advice or counsel and is based on my experience in these situations. The information is of my opinion and experience and does not reflect the industry as a whole. Please click on the links provided and talk to your Insurance Adviser with any specific questions.

Being injured can be a stressful time. I hope that this article will help you avoid some of the common mistakes that I made while going through the claims process!