Before you head out on a trip you tend to check off your list, you log out of your office mail account and double check if you’ve packed your charger. Yep, you like to be accountable and that’s fantastic but if you have forgotten about travel insurance you may need to re-think your whole trip. In a study by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, 13% of Canadians aren’t sure if they have travel insurance before they go on vacation and amongst those who have bought insurance, 17% don’t know what their policy covers. In this article, we discover what it truly means to stay accountable and how to depend on your travel insurance by learning about the best travel insurance Canada has to offer.
Best Travel Insurance In Canada: FAQs and Find Which Travel Insurance Suits Your Goals
FAQs on Travel Insurance:
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is costly and you might never need to use it. At the
same time, it is something that you shouldn’t travel without. One of
the great joys travel brings is spontaneity and having open ended
vacations but that can manifest in unpleasant surprises so it’s best to
Speaking more technically, travel insurance is a kind of insurance
that covers the costs of sudden or unforeseeable events on your trip
ranging from small expenses, such as lost or delayed luggage, to more
expensive services like hospitalization. Usually, travel insurance plans
provide protection for health and medical needs, as well as trip
cancellation or disruption costs. Travel insurance is necessary for
every Canadian, making it something travellers should factor into their
travel budget just as they would food and accommodations. Since
Canadians are covered for medical costs at home, it’s easy to forget the
need for travel insurance when travelling abroad.
Before purchasing insurance, you should get informed on exactly what you need for your specific trip.
Who needs Travel Insurance?
Every traveller and every vacation is different so a person’s coverage needs can vary as well. With specific needs and requirements, it’s important to consider what type of traveller you are and what kind of trip you are taking. This will make it easier to pick the best travel insurance for you. Ask yourself:
- Are you an adventure-seeker?
- Do you have a pre-existing medical condition?
- Do you tend to travel with a lot of luggage, including expensive items?
- Do you plan on travelling while pregnant?
- Are you a student?
- Are you travelling on a gap year?
For many, travel means adventure. It can be an opportunity to try new things and push your boundaries. Between enjoying the country’s waterfalls from the Albion Falls in Ontario to the intriguing guided tour to the sewers of Toronto, you’ll want to experience scuba diving in the Philippines and enjoy internationally famous French cuisine at some point in life, outside Canada. So having travel insurance can come at an advantage. On the other hand, there are packages tailored for different types of holidays. For example, several insurance companies now offer packages for destination weddings. When selecting a provider, ultimately your best bet is to talk to an agent and share as many details about your trip as possible.
Why you should buy travel health insurance:
- Canadian health insurance alone isn’t enough when you travel, as it may not pay your medical fees while you are outside Canada.
- Provincial or territorial health plans may cover none, or only a small part, of the costs of your medical care abroad. It will never pay your bills upfront.
- Foreign hospitals can take advantage of non-locals and could ask for immediate cash payment.
- International hospitals and clinics will not treat patients that don’t have enough insurance or money to pay your bills.
- The Government of Canada will pay for your medical costs at home, but won’t do so abroad.
Can I extend travel insurance while abroad?
Canadians have to check if they can extend their insurance with their
travel insurance provider before embarking on a trip and this is
While some trips may be carefully planned, other travel plans can occur on a whim. Not all travel insurance companies allow you to extend your insurance policy after you’ve left the country. If you aren’t yet sure of your trip’s length, you should opt for an insurer that will allow you to extend your policy while abroad. Here are few things to keep in mind for coverage extensions:
- Always let your provider know as soon as you change your plan to extend your trip. If you call after your insurance period ends, coverage extensions may be refused.
- Insurers may deny extension requests if you’ve already made a claim on your current policy.
- Insurance companies can also require you to collect or obtain an extension for your provincial health insurance plan.
Do you need insurance to travel to the U.S.?
Most Canadians have relatives or friends in the US and travelling to the US is easy too. Travel insurance may not feel necessary for a vacation across the border, but even domestic travel requires insurance. As the Government of Canada warns: “A simple day-trip to the United States without insurance could end up being very costly.”
Where can you get travel insurance?
You can buy travel insurance through your:
- travel agent
- insurance broker
- employer’s insurance provider
- credit card company
Travel insurance for Canadians is available through a variety of providers such as from your bank, credit card company, or an accredited or licensed insurance broker. In some cases, your employer may also offer access to travel insurance. Typically, such companies will want to ensure that you are a resident of Canada and that you are covered under a government health insurance plan. Plus, don’t forget to ensure that your passport isn’t due for renewal.
Before setting out on a trip, make sure to ask your insurer what they require for a claim. Here are a few best practices you should know before you go:
- Carry details of your insurance policy with you. Tell your travel companion and/or someone at home how to contact your provider.
- If you need medical attention, contact your insurer as soon as possible.
- Scan and safeguard receipts and paperwork from any unexpected costs incurred on your trip.
- If an airline loses your luggage, report to the airline and your insurer right away.
- In the event of your items getting stolen, make sure to report it to the local police within 24 hours. This is good practice if you are a victim of any type of crime.
What travel health insurance should cover:
Your travel insurer should provide you with a travel insurance
certificate and a travel insurance policy. There is nothing more
off-putting than a lengthy contract filled with jargon, legalese, and
reading between the lines print. But it’s important to know that the
best travel insurance in Canada should provide the right coverage. While
all plans are different, they should include certain basics such as
health, life, and disability coverage.
Here are 4 things your travel health insurance policy should always cover. Verify the following:
1. Medical evacuation
Make sure your insurance policy covers medical evacuation to Canada or to the nearest place with appropriate medical care. It should also cover the costs of a medical escort to travel with you to your final destination.
2. Pre-existing medical conditions
Read very carefully the definition of your policy and the limitations and restrictions on any pre-existing conditions and tests and treatments.
- Get a written contract that your insurance will cover your
pre-existing medical condition, or you could find your claim “null and
void” under a pre-existing condition clause. The contract must also
include a stability clause that says that if you are to be covered for
any pre-existing medical conditions:
- you must have no changes to your medical condition
- you must have no recent or new medical conditions, symptoms or medications during the stability period before your trip.
- The contract should include a compassion clause saying that an inaccurate statement may not invalidate the entire policy, and also a change of health clause.
3. Repatriation in case of death
Make sure that the plan covers the preparation and return of your remains to Canada.
4. Adventurous activities
If you plan on engaging in “high-risk” activities on your trip, you
may need to shell out extra money for a more comprehensive plan. Many
policies don’t cover “risky” activities, such as skiing or snowboarding
“out of bounds,” skydiving, scuba diving, white-water rafting,
mountaineering, or participation in any rodeo activity. To cover your
bases, ask questions and get specifics before purchasing a policy. It’s
important to note that many companies that offer travel insurance
include specific clauses for high-risk activities, and it’s important to
read the fine print. For example, certain insurance companies will
cover hikes and treks, but only to an altitude of 2,000 metres, so any
one who plans to hike to a higher elevation should make sure their
policy covers them. And they should prepare to pay a little more.
Remember, if it’s a dangerous activity, it’s all the more important to
ensure you’re protected.
Aside from these 4, many travel insurance providers also offer assistance services along with financial benefits. These support experts can come in handy should you need to recover a lost or stolen passport, find a translator, or locate the nearest hospital, for example.
What is the Best Travel Insurance in Canada for Canadians?
CAA Travel Insurance: Best for Families
CAA is a long trusted insurance company that offers flexible plans to suit every type of traveller and vacation, but their policies are especially beneficial for families. Their stand-alone emergency medical policy of up to $5 million in coverage is extremely comprehensive, even including medical repatriation, emergency dental, and reimbursements for pet care and kenneling. The Vacation Package Plan provides full cancellation/interruption insurance – ideal for prepaid, all-inclusive vacation packages – as well as family transportation and escort of children during emergencies. All Canadians can buy CAA travel insurance, but those with membership get a 10% discount.
Manulife CoverMe: Best for Canadians with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
This travel insurance company provides comprehensive travel insurance packages for those travelling as a family, first time Canada tourists, students, and you also get access to the TravelAid mobile app, which provides directions to the nearest medical facility and local emergency telephone numbers. However, the stand-out feature is TravelEase (this is a special policy designed to cover fully disclosed medical conditions). For travellers with pre-existing conditions too, it insures a bunch of expenses for health services and transportation and provides up to $10 million in emergency medical benefits – a true blessing in the travel insurance world.
World Nomads: Best for Thrill-Seekers
Designed for adrenaline lovers with wanderlust, World Nomads provides insurance for a long list of adventure sports, activities and volunteer/work experiences, as well as sporting equipment delay/loss/theft. You also call a 24/7 hotline that provides info that adventure travellers may need: from weather reports and travel advisories to assistance locating the nearest trail. The standard policy covers emergency medical expenses up to $5 million, emergency dental, trip cancellation/interruption/delay, baggage delays/theft/damage, and more. The downside: only those who are under the age of 66 years can qualify.
Kanetix: Best Selection For Comparing Rates
This company is not a direct insurance provider, it’s an online platform for searching travel insurance, allowing travellers to compare rates from more than 50 direct insurers. Not only will this allow you to get the lowest rates on the market, but it also allows you to easily evaluate the features of each policy to see if it offers everything you need. Maximum coverage amounts vary, but you can find many providers that will insure you for over $1 million.
Blue Cross: Best for Seniors and Retirees
This travel insurance company has been around for more than 70 years, and 1 in 4 Canadians utilize its travel insurance. Blue Cross’s emergency medical covers up to $5 million, and it has special packages designed for “snowbirds” (Canadians who head to warmer climates each year), making Blue Cross ideal for retirees. Serenity Service is one part of the package which is a free perk that provides a range of benefits if your flight is delayed, including access to an airport lounge or even a hotel room (depending on the length of the delay). Pre-existing conditions are generally not covered.
Travel CUTS Bon Voyage Insurance: Best for Budget Travellers
Bon Voyage Insurance provides very affordable travel insurance packages. It’s geared to students (e.g. you can swap your travel dates at no charge due to an exam schedule conflict), but anyone between 15 and 50 years of age can purchase a policy too. Excellent, right? The standard package includes hospital and medical up to $1 million, dental care, air ambulance evacuation, flight accident, accidental death or dismemberment, and trip interruption/cancellation insurance. Adventure and extreme sports are also covered.
- Properly get to know and understand the terms of your insurance policy. Read the fine print carefully and clear up your doubts if you need it. Carefully research your needs. Verify the terms, exclusions and requirements of your insurance policy, conditions and limitations before you leave Canada.
- The information you provide to the provider must be accurate and complete. If you have any questions, contact the insurance company, and ask them to clarify the issue in writing.
- During the selection of a travel health insurance plan, you should ask a lot of questions: Does the plan provide continuous coverage for the length of your stay abroad and after you return? Does the plan pay for hospitalization for illness or injury and related medical costs at your destination? Does the plan prevent or greatly limit coverage for certain regions or countries you may visit? Does it offer coverage that is renewable outside Canada and for the maximum period of stay? Does the provider have an in-house, worldwide, 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number in English and/or translation services for health care providers in your destination country? Does it pay your bills or cash advances up front, so you don’t have to pay them?
- Is there a deductible, and how much is it? Plans with 100-percent full coverage are more costly but may save money in the long run.
- For an additional cost, certain insurance providers may offer a “Cancel for Any Reason” option that will cover up to 75 percent of a cancelled trip.
- Get approval from your insurer before undergoing any medical treatment. Travel health insurance very seldom covers routine health checkups, non-emergency care and cosmetic surgery. It may not cover mental health disorders, drug- or alcohol-related incidents, or extreme sports such as bungee jumping, sky-diving or rock climbing.
- Get a detailed report and invoice from your doctor or hospital before you exit the country where you received medical treatment. Trying to get the proper paperwork from thousands of kilometres away can be frustrating. Keep in mind that you always have to collect the original receipts for medical services or prescriptions you received abroad and submit the same. Keep a copy of the documents for your files.
- Don’t leave your insurance information behind when you are travelling. Give a copy of the information with a friend or relative before you leave.
- Check the Travel Advice and Advisories for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip and repeat it just before you go. This is because your insurance provider may not pay your medical claim if the Government of Canada has issued a Travel Advisory for your destination.
Please keep in mind that the best travel insurance in Canada depends
on your needs. No two vacations are the same (as you’ll recall from the
several times you visit your parents home during the holidays) and the
same goes for travel insurance as well. Reading the final print, knowing
what is specifically needed, is as important as choosing which
destination to go for.