I.C.E. for life on the road
- “A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” -John Steinbeck
We finally decided on one of the most important details of the trip – our travel insurance! This is a piece of the puzzle that is not, quite frankly, very fun. Actually, travel planning requires attention to a bunch of unpleasant facts of life. I think the negative feelings come from having to think and talk about accidents, health emergencies and death arrangements. Not the top of anyone’s list!
First up is understanding the importance of a ‘power of attorney’. I am not a legal expert, so I won’t claim to know the situations and criteria for when and who needs this, but for us, we decided to create one. In case both my husband and I are enable to handle our affairs, while away, we needed someone who could drop everything and help us out. In a way, this is an insurance policy on its own. I will rest more comfortably knowing we have this in place. In fact, we probably should have attended to this back when we created our wills, fourteen years ago!
Next is, any accident or emergency which might require medical attention. Being Canadians, we don’t give this a second thought, while at home. If something happens we seek medical attention, period. There is no financial considerations and our monthly premiums are extremely low, less than what we pay for 3 cell phones per month. (Maybe we over pay for our mobile service, but that is another matter!)
The procedure to take care of this while we are away is as follows:
- Contact our provincial health care provider, in our case British Columbia, and register our dates for leaving the leaving the country and our planned return date. They allow us to be covered for a 24 month leave every five years.
- Arrange to pay the monthly BC health premiums, I elected to prepay for the whole time we were going to be away.
- Shop around for the ‘top-up’ service provider. We ended up using Manulife, but seriously considered World Nomads as well. I looked at the coverage line by line on both policies and decided on one versus another based on those details and the overall cost. Not all plans are the same and not all trips are either. I could see if we were more adventurous travellers, maybe a bit younger, some plans would be much better versus others. This is another prepaid expense.
- Create an emergency contact card.
The Government of Canada recommends what to include in an emergency contact card as follows:
- Name, address and phone number of a family member or friend in Canada
- Name and phone number of your health care provider in Canada
- Address and phone number of your accommodations at your destination(s)
- Address and phone number of hospitals or clinics at your destination(s)
- Address and phone number of the Canadian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission office in your destination country/countries (and Emergency Contact Card)
- Emergency contact phone number from your travel health insurance provider
- Proof of your insurance coverage
- Copy of your immunization record
Or, I found a fellow Canadian traveller who wrote a great piece, with photo’s of creating her contact card. ‘How to make a traveller’s emergency contact card‘, by Anne Betts, does a great job in taking the most important bits from above and squishing it into one card.
I’ve completed a hybrid of sorts, customizing our cards for our needs. Since we are moving around, it is not practical to include our destination details on our contact cards, but I will create a reference text message for each of our destinations. There is also a great app from the Government of Canada which provides everything we need to know in each country, but I will screen shot that for emergency purposes, before we leave Canada. Our contact cards will be laminated and distributed throughout each of our bags so a first responder will easily be able to determine the essential information.
Our immunization records are in my important paper packet, which is a great document to keep up to date, for life in general, not just for travelling!
We are also purchasing all big ticket items and airfare’s on our VISA, which provides excellent coverage, including; trip cancellation, delayed and lost baggage, trip interruption, flight/trip delay, common carrier accident, concierge services, and auto rental collision/loss damage. I have a digital copy of all the particulars.
Laminated copies of our passports, distributed in our luggage like the contact card. At the very least, other than for entering a country, these are great forms of identification and keep the original safely tucked away. As well, good copies come in handy for the process of speedy replacements.
I have also registered with the Government of Canada all the countries and dates which I know right now. The stuff which is booked. We have a plan, for the New Year, but won’t add that until we know for sure. This is in addition to our emergency contact person, back home, who has our travel itinerary details.
As I warned at the outset, not glamorous or exciting details to be planning, but I really do sleep better knowing these things are sorted. Then, it is up to us, to conduct ourselves with a healthy measure of caution. We can’t avoid or prepare for everything, but common sense goes a long way. Insurance covers a bunch too!