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British Columbians make holiday plans but many not fully prepared for emergencies: RBC Insurance survey


As numerous British Columbians think about loading up the car and heading out of town for a short break this summer, a new survey from RBC Insurance reveals many of them are ill-prepared for the unexpected.

According to the RBC Insurance survey, a significant number of British Columbians reported travelling without insurance coverage: just over two thirds (69 per cent) said they never or rarely purchase travel insurance when travelling within Canada but outside B.C.; 38 per cent never or rarely purchase travel insurance for trips to the United States; and 26 per cent say they never or rarely purchase travel insurance when travelling outside of Canada or the United States.

“There may be an assumption among British Columbians that their health plan will cover everything, but that’s incorrect,” said David Brenner, regional director, Western Canada, with the travel insurance division of RBC Insurance. “Even when travelling within Canada, there can be limits on reimbursements for expenses, which is why it is so important to think about the unexpected and plan accordingly.”

Despite the absence of travel insurance among many of the province’s travellers, British Columbians were among the most prepared for vacation mishaps, when compared to travellers surveyed from other regions in Canada. According to the RBC survey, 63 per cent said they have emergency funds set aside for up to three months of their income, and 51 per cent said they were fully-prepared for medical emergencies. Fifty-four per cent of British Columbians are fully-prepared for car breakdowns and 52 per cent keep an emergency supply kit (first aid, blankets, extra clothing) in their car.

“Before heading off on vacation, it’s crucial to prepare properly for all kinds of emergencies,” added Brenner. “Holidays should be about making good memories, rather than having one bad experience that could ruin a trip or leave a family with extensive out-of-pocket expenses.”

In fact seven in ten British Columbians (70 per cent) believe that the majority of their medical expenses would be covered by a provincial health insurance plan when they travel within Canada but outside B.C., even though government and employee health plans may limit reimbursement for expenses such as air ambulance service, prescription drugs and X-rays. For example, an air ambulance with a full medical team from Toronto to Vancouver could cost $33,240 and is not covered by a government health insurance plan (GHIP).

These are the findings of an RBC Insurance/Ipsos Reid survey conducted between May 1 and May 20, 2007. The poll was based on a randomly selected sample of 2,000 adult Canadians who were interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.19 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. For British Columbia, 229 people were surveyed and the margin of error would is ±6.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The data was statistically weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data.

RBC offers a wide range of travel insurance products. For more information when making travel arrangements, ask about RBC Insurance, go online to, call 1-800-565-3129 or visit a local RBC branch.


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