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FrugalSunseeker

Canadians who can’t afford Out of Country insurance

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Hello Folks. I am an avid cruiser and know my elderly father and his wife would love the experience, but they are in their late 80s with significant pre-existing health issues such that travel insurance outside Canada is not attainable. My idea is that I take them on a 7 day cruise from Montreal to Atlantic Canada and leave the ship when we land in Halifax. They would experience 5 of the seven day cruise omitting the final two stops in the US. We have family to visit in Nova Scotia so we would spend two or three days there and then fly home. Thus they could cruise without leaving Canada. Has anyone done this? A plus is that the Holland American cruise is very affordable when compared to others. We will get the cheaper interior cabins so the vacation is affordable. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, FrugalSunseeker said:

Hello Folks. I am an avid cruiser and know my elderly father and his wife would love the experience, but they are in their late 80s with significant pre-existing health issues such that travel insurance outside Canada is not attainable. My idea is that I take them on a 7 day cruise from Montreal to Atlantic Canada and leave the ship when we land in Halifax. They would experience 5 of the seven day cruise omitting the final two stops in the US. We have family to visit in Nova Scotia so we would spend two or three days there and then fly home. Thus they could cruise without leaving Canada. Has anyone done this? A plus is that the Holland American cruise is very affordable when compared to others. We will get the cheaper interior cabins so the vacation is affordable. 

 

What happens if due to weather (or any factor, of course), the ship skips that stop where you planned to disembark?

Then you'd all be disembarking in the USA?

 

Best to consider all possibilities.  This one may be remote, but it's not impossible.

(I think an Oceania ship recently had to skip one of those ports/nearby due to weather, before continuing on the Trans-Atlantic passage.)

 

You may also want to post this on the Travel Insurance section of CC:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/499-cruisetravel-insurance/

 

GC

Edited by GeezerCouple

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Good point. Never thought of that. But I think we will weigh that risk. I think this is the only way my parents can cruise. If it looks like the ship won’t dock in Halifax I will get online and pay the expensive insurance for the days the ship is in American waters. Also if a storm is brewing we can disembark a port earlier in Canada. Thanks foe your input. 

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I just wish there was a totally Canadian port cruise available. I am sure my parents aren’t the only ones with the health insurance issue. As Canadians we have free health care. If a cruise from montreal that was only cAnadian ports.   It would be very popular with elderly Canadians. Alas, I couldn’t find one that is affordable. 

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2 minutes ago, FrugalSunseeker said:

Good point. Never thought of that. But I think we will weigh that risk. I think this is the only way my parents can cruise. If it looks like the ship won’t dock in Halifax I will get online and pay the expensive insurance for the days the ship is in American waters. Also if a storm is brewing we can disembark a port earlier in Canada. Thanks foe your input. 

 

I don't know how travel insurance works in Canada, but for the policies in the USA I'm familiar with (several insurers/several policies, but certainly not *all*!), the insurance must be purchased within a certain time limit of the initial deposit, IF one wants to have coverage for pre-existing conditions, not at the last minute (there is at least one policy with more liberal terms, but it still wouldn't cover someone in the situation you are describing).

But those policies aren't available for non-USA residents.

 

Point is, make SURE that you can get coverage that would actually be "good" in a situation as you describe.

 

RM

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Sadly. I think the dream of a cruise with my parents is just that. A dream. A shame. They would have loved it. But I see now the risks. 

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The sad reality is cruising is for the segment of people that can afford it. Being able to pay for a cruise is not achievable for those with modest incomes, not when the insurance is included. A Canadian cruise with only Canadian ports would be ideal. And my parents did go on one. http://ontariowaterwaycruises.com/ the five day cruise was more twice the price of what the 7 day cruise I was thinking of doing with only 5 ports. They enjoyed their cruise, but it was not the cruising experience with professional entertainment and activities like a large cruise company offers. 

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There is a potential problem with your plan.  You are planning on your parents travelling from Montreal to Halifax on a non-Canadian flag ship.  That is in violation of Canada's Coastal Trading Act (Canada's equivalent of the US's PVSA) which limits coastwise passenger and cargo transportation to Canadian flag vessels.  You will need to check with HAL and the Canadian Border Services Agency to see if this would be allowed.  I believe the fines for this are far higher than those imposed by the PVSA.

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I know as a resident of Ontario, our provincial health coverage is not valid in other provinces.  We need to buy 'out of country' insurance each time we go to Vancouver or Montreal.    We have found it best to buy an annual plan (from Costco I think) to cover those unexpected trips out of province as well as to the U.S. and beyond.

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https://blog.ingleinternational.com/travelling-within-canada-your-out-of-province-health-coverage/

 

What is and isn’t covered out of province?

In accordance with the Canada Health Act, medically necessary health care services are typically covered when travelling within Canada. In other words, if you become ill or have an accident in another province, your hospital and physician services will likely be covered. However, additional services, such as an ambulance, hospital transfer, or transportation back to your home province, will not be covered. If you have access to private group insurance (e.g., through your employer), check to find out whether you have coverage through your plan. If you want to avoid paying for these services out of pocket, you may want to consider purchasing medical insurance through a private insurance company.

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8 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

There is a potential problem with your plan.  You are planning on your parents travelling from Montreal to Halifax on a non-Canadian flag ship.  That is in violation of Canada's Coastal Trading Act (Canada's equivalent of the US's PVSA) which limits coastwise passenger and cargo transportation to Canadian flag vessels.  You will need to check with HAL and the Canadian Border Services Agency to see if this would be allowed.  I believe the fines for this are far higher than those imposed by the PVSA.

I am glad to get information. This was totally unexpected and I am somewhat confused. As the ship will have many Canadian passengers. You are saying that because they disembark early they are in contravention of a law? You seem to be knowledgeable about the subject. Do you (did you) work for the government? 

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, FrugalSunseeker said:

I am glad to get information. This was totally unexpected and I am somewhat confused. As the ship will have many Canadian passengers. You are saying that because they disembark early they are in contravention of a law? You seem to be knowledgeable about the subject. Do you (did you) work for the government? 

 

If this is like the USA PVSA - and apparently it is - then the "problem" is not "stop-offs"/day-trips/excursions, but actually disembarking at a different port that the one where you embarked, if still in Canada.  That means, not returning to the ship before it leaves that port.

 

Chengkp75 is a sort of "Resident Expert" here on CC (with many things shipping/cruising related), and he (I'm assuming "it" is a "he"!), and you can trust what he writes.

 

GC

Edited by GeezerCouple

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Wow. This makes me think. So if someone disembarks and does not return to the ship ..even if they have advised the ship personnel...they are in trouble with the law? 

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1 minute ago, FrugalSunseeker said:

Wow. This makes me think. So if someone disembarks and does not return to the ship ..even if they have advised the ship personnel...they are in trouble with the law? 


At least in the USA, there are penalties, which may or may not be waived, depending upon the circumstances.

The passenger may be liable for the ship's penalties.

 

IF you try to "advise" the ship personnel, any such laws will definitely be reflected in their response to your request.

 

This does NOT apply if one is disembarking in another country, but may still be a slightly different problem if the entire cruise was not from Country A to Country B.

 

Chengkp75 may have more specifics.

I don't know any details about the Canadian equivalent of PVSA (USA), and didn't even know there was something similar in Canada.

 

GC

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Unlike the PVSA, there is not a set amount per passenger who violates Canada's Coasting Trade Act; the fine in the legislation is noted as simply "... not exceeding $50,000..." so potentially a LOT more than what the US bills vessels in violation! OTOH, we don't have the whole 'US built, US crewed' requirement - just that appropriate monies are paid to register the vessel and it is has to be compliant with Canadian laws. Most countries with a sea border have a similar law to protect their own interests - it's just that cruising is overwhelmingly done by Americans so we hear about the PVSA more than anything else.

 

OP - insurance can certainly be pricey, but it doesn't have to be. Stable preexisting conditions are generally pretty easy to find coverage for (no change in medication/treatment for a certain period of time) and independent insurance pretty much always gives better coverage than, as well as costing less than, cruiseline insurance - though the fixed price of the latter can benefit folks who would have serious trouble finding a policy at all, and if combined with a 'Medevac-only' plan to get them back home might be a tolerable risk.

 

To be blunt, if insurance premiums for a cruise are too pricey, then transportation costs for a sick person back to their home province would be even more expensive! Other provinces are not required to eat all the costs of looking after someone until they are fully healed - as soon as they're fit enough to travel it's back home you go, at your own expense...

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I talked to my sister. She had already booked it. If we can’t get health insurance it looks like we will cancel  ......we didn’t want to go to the last two ports ANYWAY! But it  appears we were naive. The ticket was cheap. But non refundable. And all I wanted was to treat my parents to the experience of a cruise. I am so disappointed now...so profoundly sad. It was going to be the two sisters and our parents for a  relaxing cruise on the St. Laurence seaway to Atlantic Canada. But because the cruise does not end there we are in contravention of laws. and it doesn’t seem fair. 

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Far or unfair, is not the question. Check the cost of different insurances. You might find you are better using Holland America's insurance. Although not the best insurance in the whole world it doesn't come with an age penalty. Whether you are 40 or 80 the cost is the same and based on the cost of the cruise (if I remember correctly). I wouldn't give up until I had gotten several quotes.

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18 minutes ago, katisdale said:

Far or unfair, is not the question. Check the cost of different insurances. You might find you are better using Holland America's insurance. Although not the best insurance in the whole world it doesn't come with an age penalty. Whether you are 40 or 80 the cost is the same and based on the cost of the cruise (if I remember correctly). I wouldn't give up until I had gotten several quotes.

 

This ^^ and *especially* since the cruise is already paid for and non-refundable.

It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, right?


Good luck!

 

GC

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2 hours ago, FrugalSunseeker said:

I talked to my sister. She had already booked it. If we can’t get health insurance it looks like we will cancel  ......we didn’t want to go to the last two ports ANYWAY! But it  appears we were naive. The ticket was cheap. But non refundable. And all I wanted was to treat my parents to the experience of a cruise. I am so disappointed now...so profoundly sad. It was going to be the two sisters and our parents for a  relaxing cruise on the St. Laurence seaway to Atlantic Canada. But because the cruise does not end there we are in contravention of laws. and it doesn’t seem fair. 

While it doesn't seem fair to you in your particular circumstance, it is fair to the Canadians whose livelihood depends on working on Canadian flag vessels, or companies who benefit from those Canadian flag vessels.

 

While it won't help with getting money back on the cruise you will cancel, there are Canadian flag companies that offer small ship cruises on the St. Lawrence.

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Posted (edited)

Looks like I am getting a crash course on maritime law! Regarding cabotage restrictions---I didn't even know the word before I started this thread! -

Edited by FrugalSunseeker

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This is from a UK perspective, but what if one of them needed medical evacuation by helicopter from the ship. This would prove extremely expensive if they weren’t insured.

Sorry I don’t know anything about US or Canadian law in those circumstances.

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Don't give up on the trip without checking the actual costs to insure your parents! If you don't have a broker you trust already, I'd suggest Kanetix as a first port of call (pardon the pun...) - they are just a 'clearing house' agency that prices up policies from multiple providers in one place. When we lived in Ontario, we saved a packet comparing auto insurance via them - and it's much easier plugging your info in just once than on all the various websites of each insurance company.

 

You may also have passport costs now they're going to the US on the cruise (unless they already have them), and of course travel costs home will be different than you were looking at from Halifax (but might actually be cheaper, as flying US into Canada is often cheaper than a Canadian domestic flight).

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1 hour ago, silversurf1 said:

This is from a UK perspective, but what if one of them needed medical evacuation by helicopter from the ship. This would prove extremely expensive if they weren’t insured.

Sorry I don’t know anything about US or Canadian law in those circumstances.

Medical evacuation at sea is almost exclusively provided, whether helicopter or boat, by a national agency who has accepted SAR (search and rescue) responsibility for an area of the seas.  This service is provided free of charge, even in the UK, as this is covered under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea).  "Medical evacuation" insurance is to take you from wherever you land from the ship to your home area hospital, it does not cover the actual evacuation from the ship.

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Credit cards often give travel benefits in all that fine print they send to you...a call may be helpful...medivac ins is not terribly expensive in the is....at least make sure you have that...my family is lucky enough to own one of those thousand islands on the canadian side...serendipity isle...

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Thanks for this. As it happens my dad has WestJet  world Elite MasterCard. Which has out of Province / Country insurance   

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