Online reprint from CanPara
January - March 2019
Written by: Ned Ambrus
“The most boring article you will ever read BUT the most relevant: Travel Insurance ROCKS!”
We’ve all heard the story before: skydiver travels to the USA (or international) and gets injured and they are not covered by their insurance policy or didn’t have medical insurance. Insert horror story here: financial struggles, bankruptcy, emotional stress and insert pledges/gofundme.com for donations. This ALL can be easily avoided. I’m not going to sugar-coat this article: Buying insurance and taking the time to ensure you have the correct coverage is a NO-BRAINER and is NOT EXPENSIVE or complicated.
**DISCLAIMER** Please, please confirm all information in this article when purchasing insurance and before departing to your vacation as things can change.
There is a perception that if we are Canadian we are automatically covered by our Provincial Health Care when we travel. We are, but we are only covered up to the same amount it would cost to fix us in Canada. For example; a broken arm in Canada for x-rays, casting and seeing the ER Doctor let’s say costs $400. In the USA it can easily cost $4,000 (and I have proof!). So, your provincial health care will cover $400 and you have to cover the $3,200 difference. Not great, huh? “But I don’t have $3,200!”, I hear you say. This can easily be resolved by purchasing OUT OF COUNTRY MEDICAL TRAVEL INSURANCE.
I capitalized that for a reason: there are many travel insurance companies and many underwriters with different policies. However, based on my recent research (January 2019) and my 21 years of selling travel insurance, there is currently one Travel Insurance Company that does cover skydiving and BASE Jumping and it is Manulife Travel Insurance. The catch to that is Manulife has different policies for different companies, so you should always ask if it is excluded or not.
If you walk into a travel agency and purchase Manulife Travel Emergency Medical Travel Insurance it will cover skydiving (again double check). To simplify that, I co-own The Travel Desk in Stony Plain Alberta and the policy we have does cover skydiving and BASE Jumping. (Many agencies across Canada sell this, but feel free to contact us directly with questions.) I’ve also been told that Mountain Equipment Co-op has a sports policy that covers jumping as well, so there are options available, and apparently the same are available in Quebec.
Here is the wording on sport exclusions from Manulife (as of November 2018):
“11. An emergency resulting from: hang-gliding; rock climbing; mountain-climbing which involves the ascent or descent of a mountain requiring the use of specialized equipment, including crampons, pickaxes, anchors, bolts, carabiners and lead or top-rope anchoring equipment; participating in a motorized speed contest; or your professional participation in a sport, snorkeling or scuba diving when that sport, snorkeling or scuba-diving is your principal paid occupation.”
In a nutshell, mountain climbing and rock climbing - if you are using any type of gear - is not covered. Hiking is covered (say to a BASE launch point) as well as recreational skydiving. If you are a full-time paid professional skydiver, Manulife will not cover you if you are traveling out of the country to work as a recreational skydiver.
And remember, Manulife will have different policies for different companies/travel agency chains so always ask. It is so worth the five-minute phone call or e-mail to confirm.
Hopefully this helps you to understand that insurance options are available to skydivers and BASE jumpers and are not that expensive and still cover “regular illness, injuries etc.” Please note that this is not a life insurance, disability, or lost/stolen gear. This is only medical insurance with coverage up to $5,000,000 including air evacuation, hospital, surgery, bringing a family member to you if it is serious, flying you back to Canada, plus medical bills. And it is affordable and worth its weight in gold. If you are on vacation, (going to a Boogie, going to an event, an Airspeed Camp, a Flight-1 Canopy course etc.) please purchase insurance.
And as an FYI, Out-of-Country Medical Insurance covers you for $5 million dollars. But it also covers emergency dental surgery and having a family member fly to you as well as hotel/food coverage for them if need be. It also covers repatriation if needed (bringing your body back if you die), hospital expenses, air ambulance, drugs, changing your return flight to get home (if you are healthy enough to fly commercial) and more. It doesn’t just apply to skydiving vacations but ANY vacation out of country or even out of province. I strongly recommend insurance coverage. Most provinces only cover you for the value of what it costs in your home province so if you live in Quebec and get hurt in Ontario; you are responsible for the difference.
Here is an example of what the costs/rates are as of January 2019 (assuming you are in good health and have no pre-existing illness and have provincial health care) with Manulife Travel Insurance for their Out of Country Medical:
1-week emergency medical insurance: $32-$42 depending on age
2-weeks emergency medical insurance: $58-$80 depending on age
So that $5000 skydiving holiday you just booked including; air-fare, accommodations, transportation, meals, jumping, repacks, and BEER is now going to cost you $5080. Whoopee! You paid a 1.5% increase in your total holiday for peace of mind, and protection. Let’s face it; no one wants to get hurt; no one thinks we will get hurt. But it happens, whether you or someone else is at fault. Be protected, be safe and be current. (But that’s another article altogether!)
I want my sky brothers and sisters to be safe, to have fun, to enjoy their vacation, and come back with more experience, knowledge and wonderful memories. I simply hate hearing about people getting hurt, and even more so, I hate hearing about people getting hurt and not having coverage. If you have medical work benefits, check your policy to see if you are covered. Phone your credit card company to see exactly what is covered. Buy a cheap policy just to be safe, whatever you do Please travel with Medical Insurance. It can save your life, figurative and literally.
Addendum: The Travel Desk does sell Manulife Emergency Medical Insurance that covers skydiving. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780.968.1173 or 1-877-674-1689 Monday-Saturdays.