The High Costs of Travel Emergencies

It’s Spring Travel Time – Are You Protected?

With the protection of a customized Pacific Blue Cross benefit plan, you can be comfortable in knowing that you will be taken care of when your health is compromised within your home province. But did you know that our plans may also cover emergency medical situations outside of British Columbia? Most of our plans will also pay some medical benefits during travel, which can be vital in the event of an unexpected emergency. However, even the best group policies will have limited coverage with lifetime maximums. Accidents or illnesses when travelling can have significant financial impacts, so it is important to know how an unexpected emergency could affect your benefits.

The High Cost of Emergencies

In 2016, according to the United States government’s statistics1, the average cost of a hospital stay in the U.S. that included some kind of surgical procedure was approximately $24,292.01 CAD. These charges do not include physician fees, which could more than double this amount. If you need to be flown home with a medical team to monitor a serious condition, there could be an additional fee of $75,000 to $150,000, or more2. Your lifetime maximum can be quickly exhausted if you have an out of country emergency, which means that you could be left with very limited benefits for the remainder of your plan.

How to Protect Your Plan and Your Family

Common misconceptions about credit card coverage

Credit card companies often advertise protection plans for their cardholders. However, these plans can be very restricted. Some common limitations of credit card insurance include:

  • No travel medical coverage for people over 55 years of age
  • No trip cancellation or interruption coverage for parts of your journey not purchased on the credit card
  • Last payer – all of your other benefits will be exhausted first, before the coverage provided by the credit card company will be considered
    • This may result in your lifetime maximum being depleted, with little to no coverage left for the remainder of your plan

The most effective way to ensure that your current plan benefits are not compromised by a sudden, unexpected illness or accident while travelling is to consider one of our individual travel products for annual travel or single trips.

Our base plans include cost for emergency medical care up to a maximum of $10 million. Also, our travel plans are first payer on Pacific Blue Cross group plans or benefits. If you have other sources of group coverage (e.g. through a spouse), you can submit a Coordination of Benefits (COB) claim. We also have a wide variety of optional coverages for increased security, such as Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Return Benefits, Air Flight Accident, or benefits for Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage.

Learn more more about what you can get from Travel Policies compared to the coverage in your benefits plan.

Also, current Pacific Blue Cross Members save 10% on all of our Travel Insurance products.

What’s Included in Annual or Single Trip Travel Plans

All of our Travel plans include:

  • 24/7 access – our team of professionals are here to connect you with local resources.
  • Direct Pay - we will pay any providers directly.
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions – as long as your pre-existing condition meets a minimum stability period, you can receive full protection.

For more information on our travel products, please visit

Our Simple Claims Procedure

If you do experience an unexpected emergency while travelling, we are here to help.

During your trip, you can call our Medi-Assist service to determine your level of coverage and receive help:

  • In Canada or the U.S., call toll-free: 1-888-699-9333
  • Outside of Canada or the U.S. or where toll-free is unavailable, please call collect to 1-604-419-4487 and we will pay for the call.

We recently simplified our Out of Province claims procedure. You can now follow 4 simple steps to ensure that we have everything we need to promptly process your claims. If you have insurance from other sources, our examiners will coordinate these benefits on your behalf. There is no need for you to make multiple submissions to multiple carriers. Simple send everything to us, and we will take care of the details.

2PBC internal data – average cost by service code (Air Ambulance, Repatriation, and Physician’s Fees)