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How to handle a medical emergency abroad

News Release

Summer is fast approaching and the return of the warm weather is synonymous with “vacation” and “travelling”! Whether plan members decide on a beach vacation or an expedition to a new continent, a medical emergency can unfortunately happen whenever, wherever. No one is immune to sickness, infection or injury, and if a plan member is abroad with an unknown medical system and a foreign language to contend with, the stress is that much greater. 

Thankfully, iA Financial Group (Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.) offers a range of travel insurance and trip assistance services to help plan members get through these possible challenges with peace of mind. 

These services include:

  • 24/7 access to a multilingual phone service that can provide access to a network of specialists in the event of an emergency
  • The coordination of admission to an appropriate hospital and obtaining the necessary care of a general practitioner or specialist
  • The organization of transportation or transfer to a hospital and repatriation to the plan member’s home or a hospital near their home if their medical condition so requires and allows
  • A number of other services, such as payments to suppliers, payment of living expenses, the coordination of the return of dependent children or other immediate family members, etc. 

Handling a medical emergency abroad
If a medical emergency occurs during a trip abroad, the plan member must first and foremost contact CanAssistance, iA Financial Group’s partner for overseas medical assistance and travel insurance. 

By immediately calling CanAssistance, the patient and/or their travel companion onsite can:

  • Obtain the support they need
  • Be sent to the right place
  • Confirm the eligibility of the costs incurred
  • Make the necessary billing arrangements 

CanAssistance takes charge of the file and costs incurred upon admission. Once the service provider (hospital, physician, etc.) agrees to have the expenses covered by the assistance centre, the plan member won’t have any expenses to pay. 

Important! If the plan member doesn’t call the assistance centre, he or she will be required to pay the costs upfront and submit them later to CanAssistance for reimbursement along with the medical information required for the assessment. Certain restrictions may apply. 

To contact CanAssistance, plan members can use the assistance numbers on their group insurance card, making identification easier. 

At-risk countries
Note that plan members will have reduced medical assistance coverage in at-risk countries, as determined by Government of Canada travel advisories ( Therefore, before they leave, plan members are strongly encouraged to check whether the country where they plan on travelling is affected by such an advisory. 

iA Financial Group can provide additional information about travel assistance and claims from outside of Canada. Please feel free to contact us if you require additional information.

A communiqué will be sent to group insurance plan administrators on June 17 to inform them about this topic.