Canadian shooting victims’ bills underscore importance of travel insurance

by Leo Almazora11 Oct 2017
A number of Canadians who were injured during the mass shooting in Las Vegas are suffering non-buyers’ remorse, as they had not purchased travel insurance before crossing the border.

Among those affected is Sheldon Mack, a 21-year-old Victoria man who was shot twice during the mass shooting in Las Vegas last week. After getting surgery to remove his ruptured colon at an American hospital, he was not cleared to go home right away, reported CTV News.

While the total hospital expense is unclear, it is expected to run well into the thousands. According to Robin Ingle, travel insurance expert and CEO of Ingle International, specialized surgery can cost as much as US$200,000; each day in bed costs between US$3,000 and US$5,000. Hudson Mack, Sheldon’s father, said he expects a “catastrophic” hospital bill.

Such worries over bills could have been drastically eased by a modest investment in travel insurance. “A young person travelling for a week might [pay a premium of] $20 or $25” for coverage of up to $10 million, Ingle said. For a senior, it might reach $50, while coverage for a family can cost $100.

Some medical costs resulting from incidents abroad can be covered by travel insurance that come with employee plans. However, according to Ingle, those trying to avail of it will still have to find out how it’s activated and what it covers exactly. That means asking their HR department or benefit administrators questions, which can be difficult especially since emergency assistance numbers aren’t easy to find.

Wherever they get their travel insurance, Canadians on holiday should know their policy limits. According to Ingle, most plans will not provide for unstable, pre-existing medical conditions, as well as risky activities like hang-gliding or scuba diving without certification. Coverage is generally also not provided for travel to dangerous countries.

Aside from taking care of eligible bills, travel insurance providers will contact next of kin, coordinate care with doctors and hospitals, and facilitate return flights.

As for provincial coverage, Canadians can’t count on much. According to Canada’s Travel Health Insurance Administration President Will McAleer, provincial coverage is anywhere between $50 and $400 depending on the province. “The amounts that you'd be paid for under a provincial medical plan are certainly insignificant,” he said, noting that intensive care for emergencies such as gunshot wounds can cost as much as $10,000 per hour.

But the Canadian government does have a special emergency fund, from which Canadian crime victims can claim up to $10,000. The Las Vegas and US governments will also want to extend a helping hand, according to Ingle, to avoid any political fallout that could affect the stream of more than one million Canadians that go to the city.

Several crowdfunding campaigns have also been started. Some, like Mack, are getting support from individual campaigns. Others get help from the kindness of strangers contributing to the Las Vegas Victims’ fund, an online effort that’s raised more than $9.6 million.


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