RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR
Loblaws is now selling travel insurance at stores like this flagship in the old Maple Leaf Gardens on Carleton St. in Toronto.
Loblaws is now selling travel insurance in its grocery stores in a first of a kind Canadian experiment. The seven plans cover you for $1 million and certainly are convenient, but you may pay more for less coverage than if you bought similar coverage from other carriers.
The Travel Insurance To Go packages are on the gift card kiosk at the cash in participating stores. They offer single and family coverage for four, eight and 15 days for customers age 59 and under.
Seniors age 60 to 74 can only buy individual plans for eight days. Maria Forlini a senior vice president with President’s Choice Services Inc. says that’s because a customized, more expensive product is typically required for seniors.
No medical examination is required, but there are exclusions for pre-existing conditions. The policy does not cover costs associated with trip interruption, trip cancellation or baggage loss. Coverage can be activated by telephone or on line within 12 months of purchase of the policy.
Premiums range from $15 for four days for a single person under age 59, to $94 for eight days for a single person between 60 and 74. For eight days, a family of four will pay $50.
You can compare the features with insurance offered by other carriers using a site like Kanetix.
Here’s what happens when you use Kanetix to search for coverage for eight days for a family of four with two adults age 40 and 45 and two young children:
President’s Choice Travel Insurance online costs $50, the same as the package costs in a store. The difference is that instead of $1 million of coverage you get unlimited coverage.
GMS TravelStar costs $29.28 for $5 million of coverage, RSA Emergency Medical $40 for $5 million and Travel Underwriters $31.49 for $2 million.
The premium/coverage differential is even more pronounced for a healthy single 62-year old.
Without a medical questionnaire, President’s Choice Travel Insurance online charges $52 for $10 million coverage, versus $94 for PC Travel Insurance To Go for $1 million coverage.
Quotes from other carriers: Travel Guard Chartis, $66 for $10 million, RSA Emergency Medical, $41.12 for $5 million and Travel Underwriters, $26.60 for $2 million.
How much emergency medical coverage you buy is a personal choice, but higher coverage gives you more of a cushion in the case of a catastrophic accident or illness.
In spite of the fact that travel insurance offered by President’s Choice Travel Insurance online and other carriers may deliver higher coverage for lower premiums, Forlini says “the convenience factor” is a key driver of the product’s robust sales.
“When customers activate the product via our automated telephone system, we ask them if this is a product they would likely purchase again. Ninety-four percent per cent said they definitely would.”