If you are planning to be away from Canada for an extended period greater than 6 months, it is highly recommended that you contact your provincial health plan to determine whether extended coverage is available. Benefits are reimbursed at a rate of 100% of eligible medical expenses, such as ground ambulance fees, physicians’ fees, lab fees and hospital fees that are incurred in the treatment of the initial medical emergency. Hospital room charges are limited to a semi-private room. The out of country medical emergency benefits under this plan are subject to a maximum of $1,000,000.00 per person, per lifetime. If you have any specific questions regarding the coverage you can call Great-West Life (GWL) and they can help you. The Customer service phone number you can try first is: 1-855-729-1839.

Before you travel, give your GWL plan number and the Assistance Co-ordination Centre phone numbers to a family member or travelling companion – someone who can contact the Assistance Centre on your behalf if you are (see below) involved in an emergency or incapacitated and are unable to contact the Assistance Centre yourself.

Call the nearest Assistance Co-ordination Centre (at the phone number below) if you are travelling and:

  • You are hospitalized or about to be hospitalized
  • You are involved in an accident and require medical treatment
  • You have difficulty locating medical care
  • You have a medical problem and require translation services
  • You have other serious travel difficulties

A medical emergency is generally considered to be one that arises as the result of:

  • A sudden or unexpected injury, or
  • A new medical condition which was not identified or being treated prior to the patient's departure from Canada, or
  • A previously identified medical condition which was stable and controlled for a period of three months immediately prior to the patient's departure from Canada. In such cases the patient may be required to provide medical documentation showing there were no complications such as hospitalizations, medication changes or doctor’s visits. As well as no new or ongoing symptoms for that condition during the three month period immediately prior to their departure date.

In an emergency, go immediately to the nearest physician or hospital, then contact the nearest Assistance Co-ordination Centre. It is recommended that you call the 1-800 number (or applicable number below) for any medical emergency and Global Medical will advise accordingly. If it’s not an emergency (ear ache, sore throat, etc.) then you should use your judgment and likely just pay out of pocket. If medical intervention is required (ambulance, diagnostic testing, emergency hospital visit) then definitely call the contact number.

If you do not have your travel insurance card on you, the information is as follows:
Policy No. 164609
Certificate No. (contact the Plan Administrator or Benefit Co-ordinator if you are unsure)

To obtain Global Medical Assistance while travelling in Canada or the United States call toll-free:
1-800-527-0218 or 1-855-222-4051
There may be issues calling the 1-800 number from a cell phone, if this is the case, please place a collect call to (410) 453-6330.

When travelling in the United Kingdom call toll-free:
0-800-252-074

When travelling in Mexico call toll-free:
001-800-101-0061 or 001-800-522-0029

When travelling in Cuba contact Assured Assistance (not Global Medical)direct:
1-905-816-1901 or 1-204-946-2946

All other Countries place a collect or direct call to:
Baltimore, U.S.A. 1-410-453-6330 or 1-204-946-2577

NOTE: From some countries, 00 must be dialed, rather than 1, before the 11-digit international toll-free number.

If you have any issues calling collect from the country you are in, you can opt to pay the phone charges and get your receipt of payment and submit it to GWL for reimbursement.

If you must seek a follow-up appointment while away for your medical emergency, it is best that you ALWAYS call Global Medical Assistance (GMA) first to find out if the visit to the Doctor will be covered.

With regard to any billing, the billing process can be different depending on which part of the world you’re in and the specific events surrounding the emergency. Ideally, either you or a family member should contact the GMA toll-free service prior to being admitted to hospital. In most circumstances you can make arrangements for the hospital to bill Great-West Life directly so that you or your dependent does not have to pay out of pocket. Although rarely, there are situations where the hospital or medical facility will not agree to this arrangement and will insist that the payment is received before being discharged.

Non-emergency services such as vision, paramedical or dental expenses are subject to the in Canada limitations, i.e. eligibility, coinsurance, plan maximums, frequencies, etc.

The following out of country expenses are not usually covered by Great-West Life group plans:

  • Non-emergency medical care or follow-up care after the initial emergency treatment. The plan provides coverage for the initial medical emergency treatment and one follow up visit.
  • Continued medical care following an emergency outside Canada if the patient’s medical condition permits a return to Canada for treatment.

Although GWL realizes the above may present some difficulties, the policy is not designed to provide coverage for non-emergency continued medical care during an extended absence from Canada. GWL suggest alternate insurance arrangements be made for non-emergency or continued care outside Canada during an extended absence.