Ontario family forced to pay $32,900 bill because of travel insurance confusion
An Ontario couple said they were shocked after learning they're on the hook for a $32,900 air ambulance bill because of confusion surrounding their travel insurance.
"I'm so disappointed. I’m broken and sad," Maple, Ont. woman Freda Burton told CTV News Toronto.
Freda's husband, Vashni Burton, went to Jamaica in December of 2020 for a prolonged stay. While he was there in August 2021, he suffered a stroke and Freda flew down to be by his side.
Concerned for his care, they decided fly him home from Jamaica to Vaughan by air ambulance because they though they had travel coverage through an insurance plan.
The cost was almost $33,000 and they thought they would be reimbursed when they got home.
After Vashni Burton was flown home, the couple submitted the bill to their travel insurance company, but they were told they did not have the coverage to pay for the air ambulance.
Freda Burton was told her plan allowed for travel coverage for 30 days, but that her husband had been in Jamaica for more than eight months.
"They only cover for the first thirty days. They didn't cover him because he was in Jamaica for such a long period, they don't cover that," Freda Burton said.
Martin Firestone, the president of Travel Secure Inc., said there are common misconceptions when it comes to some insurance plans that offer coverage for travel.
An airplane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Firestone said many group insurance plans offer travel insurance, but they may be capped at 30 days of coverage. After that a person would have to return home, but once they get home they could leave on another trip and once again have another 30 days of coverage.
However, Firestone said if you’re out of country for more than 30 days at a time, you can purchase additional insurance.
"If you don't purchase additional insurance and you are (out of the country) on day 30 or 31 without coverage, that's a pretty scary thought, because if there is a claim it will not be paid," said Firestone.
Firestone advises everyone to triple check insurance coverage before taking a trip.
Burton thought she did have insurance and was unaware of the 30 day limit and is still hopeful a portion of the air ambulance bill can be reimbursed.
Firestone says many of his clients are deciding to travel again and he says many insurance polices do allow for COVID-19 coverage, but plans can have differences and limitations so make sure you know what's covered and what's not, before you go.
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