Travel Coverage as Part of an Employee Health Benefits Plan

Travel CoverageYour employee health benefits plan supports your employees in a number of important ways. Protecting and supporting the health and wellbeing of employees is the driving force behind benefits; travel coverage helps take that support on the road.

Travel Coverage

There are two main aspects to travel coverage: travel medical and trip cancellation. Both coverages are very valuable to employees who travel.

1. Travel Medical

This coverage means when your employee and/or their family travel outside of Canada and need immediate medical treatment, they will be covered. Coverage applies to medical events such as sudden illness, injury, or the development of a new condition.

Coverage also applies to chronic medical conditions, as long as the condition was considered medically stable before travelling. The specifics vary depending on the plan, but usually “medically stable” means the person with the chronic condition is not taking new medication, has not been in the hospital recently, and does not have any non-routine medical appointments scheduled.

Travel medical treatment can be provided in a hospital or clinic. It can also include prescription drugs and ambulance services. The plan member must reach out to the provider (at GroupHEALTH we use Trident Global Assistance) when the covered individual is ill or injured.

2. Trip Cancellation/Interruption

The other important part of travel coverage is trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. This coverage helps your employee and their family regain lost expenses related to unexpected events that require a trip to be cancelled, interrupted, or extended.

There are many different unexpected events that could make your employee and/or their dependent eligible for these coverages. Both medical and non-medical events can qualify. For example, the unexpected death, illness, or injury of a family member could qualify, or a natural disaster at home or at the destination.

The goal of this coverage is to protect travel plans. Trip cancellation coverage is for before travel takes place, while trip interruption is for after the trip has begun. If an unexpected event occurs that necessitates your employee and/or their dependents return home, the non-refundable costs of the rest of their trip and airfare home are likely covered.

We often save for a long time in order to afford the travel we desire; trip cancellation/interruption coverage can mean so much to employees who must change their travel plans.

Safe Travels

While travel coverage is meant to help protect the health and wellbeing of your employees while they travel (or plan to travel), it doesn’t negate the fact that your employees are required to make responsible decisions about travel.

Travel coverage doesn’t apply to trips taken to countries where the government has travel advisories in place. If the government issued a travel advisory before your employee booked a trip or travelled, and war, terrorism, or pandemic impacted the trip, they would not be covered. Similarly, any other government-issued advisories would nullify coverage.

Employees must also be responsible for conducting themselves safely while travelling. Incidents resulting from excessive alcohol/drugs or extreme/combat sports would also impact eligibility for coverage. It’s also not okay for an employee to travel with the intention of seeking out medical treatment (they would not be covered).

Each plan is different, so before including it as part of your employee benefits plan, be sure to go over the specifics with your benefits provider. Some coverages have maximums on the amount of funds available, others are related to the number of days a person can travel and still maintain their coverage.

Why Include It?

Now for the important stuff. Why should you include travel coverage as part of your employee benefits plan?

Likely, one of your goals in sponsoring a plan is to support recruitment and retention efforts at your company. You’re competing in a tight labour market, and you need to attract and retain the best employees to make your company successful.

Travel coverage is an attractive benefit. There has been an explosion in travel after restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted. Many of your employees are travelling or are planning to travel; they want and need coverage for when they go. During the early stages of the pandemic, we saw first-hand how valuable this coverage can be.

Without coverage, the cost of emergency medical treatment can be colossal, requiring employees and their families to spend their life’s savings in order to afford treatment. While most people will buy personal coverage if they do not have coverage through their benefits plan, including it in your benefits plan communicates to employees that you have their back.

Group buying power means you can offer this coverage at a much lower cost than if the employee buys coverage privately. It adds weight to the idea that you value your employees and want to support them in leading a well-balanced life. This can help with employee morale, which has many positive impacts on your business.

Good advice is key

If your goal is to provide a comprehensive benefits plan that supports your employees, travel coverage should absolutely be part of your employee benefits plan. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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