Regulators announce reforms for travel health insurance market

By The IJ Staff | May 31 2017 01:30PM

The Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) released a position paper May 31 that outlines its final recommendations to reform the travel health insurance market. The goal is to enhance consumer protection and increase confidence in travel health insurance products.

“While the CCIR believes Canada has a strong and competitive travel health insurance marketplace, it also believes there are opportunities for improvements to be made,” stated the CCIR in an announcement.

Common standardized definitions

Included in the regulators’ recommendations are the development of common standardized definitions and terminology; improvements to the application, screening and claims process; simplifying and improving disclosure documents; ensuring adequate controls and oversight mechanisms are in place throughout the product lifecycle and improved training and information for sales forces.

The release of the position paper follows the publication of an issues paper last year and consultations related to growing concerns over public confidence in the travel health insurance market.

Eligibility requirements and exclusions

Underwriting of travel health insurance products is one of the problematic areas addressed in the position paper. The CCIR recommends that steps should be taken “to better assist consumers’ understanding of their eligibility requirements and applicable exclusions at time of application. Insurers should also look at how to better assist consumers who may have questions or concerns during the application process, through enhanced educated staff at call centres and help lines, and better educated sales forces to allow consumers to have more confidence over their eligibility and coverage.”

Another problem area is claims handling. The position paper recommends that insurers look at ways to improve their processes “to ensure that consumers are not unnecessarily denied for unrelated health situations or for errors or omissions in applications made by consumers acting in good faith and making best efforts to disclose.”

Reinforcing consumer confidence

“We have heard the concerns of the public and insurance brokerage community and with this clear, nationally agreed way forward, we are reinforcing the pre-eminent goal of consumer confidence in their insurance protection when they travel," said CCIR chair Patrick Déry. "It is our belief that these measures will go a long way towards meeting consumer expectations wherever Canadians live in the country."

The CCIR says it will monitor the industry’s implementation of the recommendations to ensure they are adopted in a timely manner. “CCIR members remain determined to see that the changes make a difference for all Canadians.”

To learn more, the CCIR’s Travel Health Insurance Products Position Paper can be found on the organization’s website.

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