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Risky business: Canadians brace for increased travel costs, but many risk more by travelling without insurance: RBC Insurance survey

Mississauga, ON - June 26, 2008 — As soaring gas prices and higher travel costs hit Canadian travellers, a new survey by RBC Insurance and Ipsos Reid suggests many travellers don't feel the need to protect their travel investment.

The survey reports that 37 per cent of Canadians never purchase travel insurance when travelling on vacation to the United States, a country where medical costs are among the highest in the world. These Canadians are left potentially exposed to the high costs of the U.S. healthcare system. In fact, a four-day stay in a U.S. hospital for an appendectomy could cost US$39,400, with only CDN$1,600 covered by a government health insurance plan (GHIP). A one-day stay in a U.S. hospital for a broken arm and wrist could cost US$32,600, with only CDN$400 covered by a GHIP.

"As fuel costs rise and the economy slows, travellers may be exposed to increased travel costs and capacity cuts; so the need to protect their investment is even greater now," said Stan Seggie, president and CEO of the travel insurance division of RBC Insurance. "Comprehensive travel insurance including trip interruption, trip cancellation and travel emergency medical insurance will help protect them."

Many Canadians also assume they are covered through existing travel plans. For example, the survey shows 43 per cent of travellers feel they don't need to buy travel insurance because they have sufficient coverage through work or their credit card.

Often these plans don't offer features such as up-front payments of medical expenses (when possible), 24-hour multilingual support, assistance in finding a local doctor or hospital, emergency transportation by air ambulance and coverage extending to children. In addition, there may be limits or restrictions on claim amounts, number of travel days, age and certain types of medical emergencies.

"Travel insurance is a minor cost for most vacationers. At a time when travellers are paying more for fuel and other goods and services, the last thing they want to see is a large travel medical bill," said David Redekop, principal research associate, Conference Board of Canada. "Purchasing travel insurance when travelling to another province or country is one of the most prudent purchases a traveller can make."

The survey also reports that 55 per cent of Canadian travellers never purchase travel insurance when they travel outside their home province but within Canada. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians believe they don't need to purchase travel insurance when travelling to another province within Canada because they believe their provincial health plans will cover their medical costs.

In fact, government health insurance plans may limit reimbursement for expenses such as land and air ambulance services and X-rays. An air ambulance with a full medical team travelling from Calgary to Toronto, for example, can cost $28,000 and is not covered by a GHIP.

"When Canadians plan for a summer trip, their main focus is on having fun, not whether they may need to cancel the trip at the last minute or get sick while away," added Seggie. "However, before they leave, Canadians need to ask themselves if they could afford to pay out thousands in hospital bills or lose the cost of their vacation. If they can't, they need to consider purchasing travel insurance."

These are the findings of an RBC Insurance/Ipsos Reid survey conducted between March 27 and April 10, 2008. The poll was based on a randomly selected sample of 2,251 adult Canadians, who were interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.19 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. The data was statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data.

RBC Insurance offers a wide range of travel insurance products. For more information when making travel arrangements, ask a travel agent about RBC Insurance, go online to www.rbcinsurance.com, call 1-800-565-3129 or visit a local RBC Insurance retail branch.

About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance, through its operating entities, including RBC Insurance Company of Canada, Assured Assistance Inc., and The Liberty Marketing Corporation, provides a wide range of travel, life, health, home, auto, business, and reinsurance products, as well as creditor insurance products to more than five million North American customers. The company is the leading provider of travel insurance and emergency assistance services in Canada and has also expanded into the U.S. travel insurance market. Its travel insurance operations draw on more than 40 years of professional experience and provide a wide range of products and services through a network of over 4,000 travel agencies, as well as over the Internet, through retail insurance branches and bank channels, to more than three million individual and corporate customers annually.

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Media Contacts
Kerry Gaetano, (905) 816-5583, kerry.gaetano@rbc.com
Margie McNeil, (905) 606-1425, margie.mcneil@rbc.com


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06/26/2008 11:32:38