Tips to avoid a dark cloud on your Black Friday shopping trip

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With the American Black Friday approaching, retailers in the U.S. will be offering tantalizing deals as shoppers get a jump on holiday gift buying. Plenty of Canadians will also get in on the action by making quick trips across the border to take advantage of the sales. But, could their quest for low prices come at a high cost?

RSA, one of the country’s leading insurance providers, offers some advice to Canadians planning some cross-border shopping.

“Do a little planning before you jump in the car or on the plane for the U.S.,” says Erin Finn, underwriting director with RSA’s travel insurance division. “Visiting a U.S. clinic or hospital can be very costly. Having the right travel insurance, even on short trips, can protect you and your family members should the unexpected happen while you’re away.”

Take the case of Elisabeth from Vancouver who planned a weekend trip with her daughter, Kira, for shopping and sight-seeing in Seattle. After a long day spent in the stores, Kira came down with a fever. It worsened as the night went on, and the two found themselves in the emergency room of a Seattle hospital at 2AM Sunday where Kira was then admitted with influenza. Knowing she had purchased out of country travel insurance, Elisabeth contacted the number on her policy to report a claim, and the assistance company immediately approved the ER visit costs and arranged direct payment of the hospital bills. Thankfully, Kira’s fever went away and although the trip didn’t turn out as planned, Elisabeth didn’t have to endure the financial hardship she would have encountered by travelling without insurance. The cost of the claim – almost $2,000 USD – was covered entirely by her travel insurance policy.

Remember, while it may be a short stay, even a minor mishap requiring medical attention while in the U.S. can come with high costs.

Here are some tips RSA says Canadians should keep in mind:

1.  Ensure you’re covered. Your home province’s health insurance plan likely will not fully cover you for care and treatment you receive in U.S. hospitals. You should supplement that plan with additional out-of-country insurance to ensure you’re adequately protected. Consult with an experienced travel insurance expert about your specific needs.

2.  Look into annual plans. Some people barely give a thought to the need for travel insurance for cross-border day-trips or weekend shopping excursions.  But if you take more than a couple of short trips a year, an annual plan that meets your travel needs and is relatively inexpensive might be just the thing for you and your family. And you don’t need to worry about purchasing a policy every time you take a trip.

3.  Take proof of insurance. In addition to your Canadian passport, take copies of your travel insurance documents, including your insurance wallet card containing a 24-hour emergency contact number in case you ever need to report a claim or request assistance. 

4.  Drive carefully. Seattle; Detroit; Buffalo; Syracuse; Niagara Falls; Bangor, Maine or Burlington, Vermont. Whatever the destination, heavier-than- normal traffic and potentially slippery conditions this time of year can make navigating the highways and roads tricky. Plan ahead and leave yourself enough time so you’re not rushing to beat the crowds or get back across the border.