When a Tourist Becomes a Foreigner
When travelling abroad, vacationing Canadians take comfort in the infrastructure that destination countries put in place to support the tourism industry. Travellers plan itineraries that include popular landmarks, site seeing tours and hotels which are all designed to make the visitor feel welcome and safe to explore their new surroundings. Whether in England or the most exotic destination, one only has to look around for a “?” sign to find a tourist centre that will direct them to the next unique experience on their trip.
Unfortunately, the security one finds in this tourist bubble can quickly disappear when a medical emergency occurs. Even at home, seeking treatment can be a challenging experience due to the combined discomfort of illness and wait times at hospitals. The added difficulty of accessing treatment in a strange country and the uncertainty around the quality of care available can significantly compound the stress involved when this scenario occurs away from home.
When entering a hospital overseas, the reality is that your customer transitions from the comfort of being a tourist who is viewed as a lucrative source of income for the local economy, to becoming a foreigner that is seen in most cases as an additional cost and risk to an already strained healthcare system.
Hospitals can be unsettling places at the best of times, but language barriers and unfamiliar processes only add to the chaos. Additionally, as a foreigner, many hospitals require upfront payment in local currency before providing any treatment. This can be a dangerous obstacle to overcome, particularly when the situation is an emergency. Decisions are often required that can result in devastating consequences (emotionally, physically and financially).
Thankfully, your insurance broker can prepare you for these for these unexpected situations by ensuring you have emergency medical travel insurance that is backed by a globally recognized and trusted brand, and supported by an audited, worldwide network of quality medical providers.
Allianz Global Assistance, a partner of Pucher Insurance, has been assisting Canadian travellers for over 24 years. With the support of its fellow Allianz Global Assistance business units in 29 countries around the world, Allianz Global Assistance provides unparalleled global support with a local touch when assisting Canadians as they travel abroad.
In addition to this global reach, Allianz Global Assistance maintains an audited network of medical providers around the world, focusing on areas of widespread tourism and in places where the quality of treatment may be inconsistent with Canadian standards. Providers within this network are visited and audited by Allianz Global Assistance doctors who develop detailed reports that include photos, information on available services and equipment, and quality scores. This provider information is accessed by Allianz Global Assistance case managers in Canada when providing referrals or when it is necessary to find the nearest appropriate facility for a medical evacuation.
Allianz Global Assistance’s support network is a good example of how the true value of travel insurance is not only found in the coverage for unexpected medical expenses, but in the assistance services provided when these medical emergencies occur.
Allianz Global Assistance encourages its customers to call in before seeking treatment so they can be provided with a referral and directions to the nearest appropriate medical facility. Before the patient even arrives at the hospital, Allianz Global Assistance will have already notified the hospital of the incoming patient and, whenever possible, will arrange for direct billing so the patient doesn’t have to pay out of pocket. This level of support can mean the difference between a very lengthy, strenuous and costly trip to the hospital, or a fast and easy turnaround for admittance, diagnosis and treatment.
In cases where a patient must be admitted, your travel insurance supplier becomes invaluable. Allianz Global Assistance closely manages the care of the patient with the perspective of Canadian medical standards and procedures, while approving and advising on what testing and treatments are needed. They are an advocate for the patient and act as a lifeline, coordinating communications with the patient’s treating physician at the destination and their primary physician at home, all the while keeping family members up to date on the status of their care. Lastly, they manage the complicated process of coordinating the many steps involved for medical transport back to Canada.
Next time you’re booking a trip, be sure to speak with your insurance broker to ensure you are buying insurance from a globally trusted supplier like Allianz Global Assistance. This will ensure you will be treated as a valued tourist for your whole trip, regardless of what unexpected emergencies might arise.
Dan Keon, Director of Marketing and Communications
Allianz Global Assistance