Winnipeg Woman’s Death in Punta Cana Underscores Need for Travel Insurance

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Winnipeg Woman’s Death in Punta Cana Underscores Need for Travel Insurance

Travelers need to understand that each country has different policies and procedures and local laws apply when a foreigner dies there. Photo: Shutterstock.com.


The death of a Winnipeg woman vacationing in the Dominican Republic has been complicated by the fact that she had not purchased travel insurance for the trip.

As a result, the already suffering family could be on the hook for more than $10,000 to cover medical bills and funeral costs, while also dealing with the complex regulations governing the repatriation of her body to Canada.

Holly Twoheart was vacationing at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana with her 26-year-old daughter Danielle, when security woke her to tell her that Danielle had been found on the grounds, apparently the victim of a three-story fall.

Danielle was taken to a local hospital where Holly said she was put on life support before passing away later that day. Danielle has two daughters, aged eight and 10.

Danielle did not have travel insurance, and her stay at the hospital incurred $6,000 in expenses. In addition, a local funeral parlor requested an additional $5,100 for Danielle’s body to be released.

The Canadian government warns its citizens on a website that: “Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad.” It notes that, “The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.”

News reports stated that Canadian consular officials were in contact with local authorities to gather additional information about the situation.

Repatriating a body is highly complex
On its website, the Canadian Government offers the following advice about repatriating remains if a death occurs abroad on vacation:

  • Choose someone to make decisions for the family, either in Canada or where the death took place. If possible, this person should have the required documentation, such as the deceased’s will and any powers of attorney.
  • Notify the deceased person’s travel insurance provider and make sure that you follow their instructions to avoid unnecessary delays or complications.
  • Find a funeral home in the region where the death took place that is experienced in international funeral arrangements. The facility will guide you through the next steps and help you with arrangements in both countries if you decide to have the funeral in Canada.
  • Understand that each country has different policies and procedures and local laws apply when a foreigner dies there. Timelines may often be longer than in Canada and delays can occur at any time.
  • Your family’s representative must obtain an official death certificate issued by the country where the death occurred. The funeral home you choose in the country where the death occurred may be able to obtain the official death certificate and register the death according to local laws. Make sure you ask for several copies of the death certificate as it is required at a number of stages.
  • If it is not in one of Canada’s official languages, the death certificate must be translated into English or French by a certified translation service.
  • You may need more documents depending on the circumstances surrounding the death and whether the human remains or ashes will be sent back to Canada.
  • If there is an investigation into the death, you may require a medical, police or autopsy report and/or toxicology results. In some countries, an autopsy may be required.
  • If the body of the deceased is being repatriated, the Canada Border Services Agency may require certification that the individual had no communicable diseases before they will release the body to you. Additionally, the airlines have their own regulations for the repatriation of remains. Family members should not expect to travel on the same plane as the body when it is being repatriated.
  • The time required to repatriate remains can vary greatly and depends on a number of factors, including the procedures in the country where the death occurred and the cause of death.
  5
  0
Tip of the Day

I do think there are possibilities for traveler advisors to make money doing domestic trips. I charge a planning fee for my time and expertise, and then book commissionable hotels and activities that meet the client’s needs.

Terri Weeks

Daily Top List

Five Best Places to Visit in Ireland

1. Dublin

2. Killarney

3. Galway

4. Limerick

5. Kilkenny

Source: U.S. News

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=46d9854c-8d33-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

Give a Heads-Up, Get a Leg-Up in Business

Harness your knowledge, share your tips, and leave your clients wondering what else you know that they don’t.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
How Can Travel Advisors Handle the Boeing 737 MAX Problem?
How Can Travel Advisors Handle the Boeing 737 MAX Problem?

The situation serves as a useful, though tragic, vehicle for reminding advisors of their responsibilities related to the safety of aircraft.

How to Sprinkle the Oprah Genius into Your Marketing Plan
How to Sprinkle the Oprah Genius into Your Marketing Plan

From finding your purpose to leveraging trends and refining selling strategies, Oprah laid out a roadmap for successful marketing.

How the Best Group Travel Advisors Keep Calm and Stay Efficient
How the Best Group Travel Advisors Keep Calm and Stay Efficient

Think getting into group travel will better maximize your time and your profits? Tread carefully, because more people, all traveling at the same time, requires efficiencies to be successful.

Stepping Onto the Path of Your Client's Travel Purchase
Stepping Onto the Path of Your Client's Travel Purchase

Understanding how a traveler becomes inspired about their next vacation and eventually purchases their trip can empower a travel agent.

12 Tax Tips for Travel Advisors in 2019
12 Tax Tips for Travel Advisors in 2019

The IRS is surprising many Americans who expected a tax refund this year. So even before dealing with the changes in tax laws for 2018, it’s a good year to get your tax house in order.

Travel Advisors Talk Surviving Wave Season
Travel Advisors Talk Surviving Wave Season

Travel advisors scurrying to keep up with the demand of Wave Season 2019 can use these survival ideas to maximize sales opportunities — and stay sane in the process.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: The Northern Lights of Finland