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Accidents happen…are you prepared?

14 Jun

This past weekend I had a relative get seriously injured while on vacation in the US. He had to have surgery to repair broken vertebrae in his lower back and has other broken bones and a bad concussion. We are still waiting to hear the final game plan for him, but things are looking promising. As worried sick as we are about his health, one can’t help but worry just a little about the financial impact this is going to leave on the young couple.

Its one we, as foreigners, always dread. Having the luxury of free health care in Canada, when we hear of someone getting injured abroad, we immediately start thinking of the cost of healthcare in a foreign country. There are a few things we can do to minimize the impact an event like this will have on ourselves.

Out of Country Health Insurance Coverage

This is obviously the main and most important thing to remember when travelling outside of Canada. Coverage can be purchased through many insurance providers for a nominal fee. Again, since healthcare is free in Canada, when purchasing coverage you may not know what amount to purchase. Always estimate high and plan for the worst. I did a quick tally of what I could find on google, about prices associated with the types of injuries this man is facing. He’s had a back surgery, various tests, equipment, procedures, now another surgery scheduled. Not to mention, he will more than likely need to be airlifted home to Canada with a nurse to accompany him. My rough numbers were well in to the hundreds of thousands and I imagine the total costs to be upwards of 500K depending how long he is down there.

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance is often offered through a benefits package through your employer. The insurance will allow him to be off work and have his wages picked up. The wages won’t be full wages however. Most plans pay out at around 67% of wages. So, there is lost employment income even if he does have this coverage.

If you don’t have disability insurance through work, it can be purchased on its own through an outside provider as well. These plans are flexible and you can customize it to what you can project you will require. You can choose how much they pay out and when they start paying out. These variables will affect what your premiums will be, allowing you to find something that is affordable for your family. Also affecting the premium will be your type of work, your age and your current health condition. Its best to start this type of coverage at a young age.

Medical Coverage

Again, hopefully you work for an employer that offers a benefits package, but if you are like many and don’t, you can get coverage for yourself and your family through a private insurance provider. Premiums vary depending on age, family, health, etc. Prescription medication costs alone,when recovering from an incident like this, will pay for itself but there are also options for ambulance rides coverage and other medical supplies to be included as part of the plan.

Loan Insurance

Typically, when taking out a loan or mortgage from a bank you will be offered both life and disability insurance on those loans. In the event you are off work, the bank may cover your loan payments or mortgage payments. When my husband had carpel tunnel syndrome and was unable to work for 2 months, because of the insurance on the mortgage we had, they made the payments for those 2 months.

Aside from the direct financial impacts something like this will have, there are so many other ways this family will be impacted. Recovery will take a long time and he may be in an out of town hospital facility for some time before being transferred to their local hospital. She will juggle travelling to care for him on top of juggling two very young children. She will be the sole caregiver for the children while he recovers, she may have to pick up some type of part time employment to help offset the loss of wages and the increased costs of recovery and the children may now have to attend childcare.

One never likes to plan for these sorts of situations, but planning we must. I guess the main thing here is always plan for the worst. Never assume you won’t need any of this insurance or that you’ll be OK if you get injured. You never knows the severity, length of recovery and at a time when recovery is all you should be focusing on, preparing can be a lifesaver.

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4 Responses to “Accidents happen…are you prepared?”

  1. Budget & the Beach June 20, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    I need to investigate buying my own long term disability insurance. And as a freelancer, I can’t tell you how expensive it is to have your own insurance. For some people I know, it’s hard to even qualify if you have a pre existing condition. It’s really, really tough. I’m at least thankful that I qualified.

    • myjampackedlife June 20, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Insurance is expensive. I had all the coverage with my old job, so now since the layoff, we actually have no coverage. its scary for me to be uninsured right now and we are looking into getting something.
      Damn job!!

  2. Modest Money June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Dammnnn! $500k?! That’s crazy. At least it sounds like he will ultimately be ok in the end. This is definitely one of those things that Canadians take for granted. When we are so used to just automatically having medical coverage, we often don’t stop to think of what would happen in a situation like this. I do hope that family was well off financially so that the massive expense won’t be too disastrous. With 2 kids though, you’d hate to have that kind of financial hardship.

    • myjampackedlife June 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

      i know right, its scary. the main thing is that he is going to be ok healthwise of course. Its one of those things you buy never hoping to use, but if you need to use it, your glad you bought it.

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