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Like many holiday travellers I spent my Christmas and New Year's in the United States with my son and his family. Kansas City KS, which borders on Kansas City MO, is a rolling country spread over a large area famous for its BBQ beef and pork and strong coffee. With a new 30-year built-up infrastructure, Overland Park is considered among the top five most affluent areas in the US. Residents here are super polite with their drive-through pharmacies, fast foods, big box stores and a HyVee cashier who took note of my pronunciation of "bag" which immediately disclosed my foreign status.

Graciously, I declined my host's offer to use her vehicle citing my ignorance of the landscape and directions. We made frequent trips northward on the I-69 along a 65 mph (105 km/hour) busy eight-lane highway to Missouri. While I'm sensitive to another's driving habits my daughter-in-law was reluctant to use her seat belt on most occasions and this trip I noticed she was also tailgating. We were close to Kansas City when the traffic suddenly slowed, and a small white car appeared on the right side completely demolished. People had gathered around someone sitting on the ground as they waited for an ambulance. The scene slipped by but I continued to gaze out the window shocked at what must have been a horrific tragedy. Soon we picked up speed again and I heard the comforting "click" of a seat belt. The accident must have been my driver's wake up call. Now I shudder, thinking it could have been us and me as a visitor to the U.S.A. who was not covered by insurance.

Medical emergency costs for uninsured Canadian travellers in the US are big ticket items and can be devastating.

Arriving back in Canada I stopped by the travel office (now tripcentral.ca) located in St. Catharine's Fairview Mall and met with their company's president, Steve Bico. I had a feeling of urgency about my travellers' insurance just as a matter of hindsight. What he disclosed was both sobering and disturbing. Medical emergency costs for uninsured Canadian travellers in the US are big ticket items and can be devastating. For example, consider a broken leg scenario. An injured traveller without insurance could be held until he or she paid for the care received. Some relatives have had to take out second mortgages to finance their loved one's return. Now I was aware of this critical information and Mr Bico had all the facts and insurance information readily available.

My decision to travel uninsured was based on the argument that I'm a low-risk senior in good health, visiting family only with a negligible chance of getting into trouble. Considering the different environments, transportation and interactions that I encountered how could I ever be sure that nothing adverse would happen after leaving Canada? I threw caution to the wind ignoring the rules of the game. All I can say now is that I feel extremely fortunate to be home and safe. I will think a little when travelling again. The adage "better safe than sorry" applies perfectly here, but it seems a rather weak idiom; especially, when you are putting a potentially huge risk to rest.©

  • tripcentral.ca
  • Steven Bico Vacation Expert
  • Fairview Mall
  • 285 Geneva Street
  • St. Catharines ON L2N 2G1
  • Tel:(905)938-1200 ext.7119
  • Toll Free:(800)665-4981
  • Fax:(877)-528-9283
  • Email:stevenbico@tripcentral.ca

Think Safe Healthy Travel

Date

January 15, 2015

Author

James Kershaw

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Jim Kershaw says

December 15, 2016,

We planned another visit in July 2016 but had to cancel due to my vertigo. What a bummer!

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