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What is Travel Insurance

Have you been considering taking a trip across the national or provincial border for a trip? Maybe you’re considering an international trip later in the year, or even a day trip into the United States.

No matter the circumstances, you will need travel insurance to cover you for any emergency costs, such as falling ill or getting hurt while you’re away. Travel insurance will also cover you for flight interruptions, document replacement, or lost luggage. You also need to consider cover if you decide to drive and could potentially get into an accident.

A study done by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada revealed that 13% of Canadians are unaware if they possess travel insurance before going on a trip. 17% of these people who have purchased travel insurance aren’t aware of what cover they have through their policies.

Reasons to Buy Travel Health Insurance

There are various reasons why everyone, including Canadians, should buy travel insurance before taking a trip.

  • The Canadian government won’t pay any of your medical bills
  • Hospitals and clinics in some countries will refuse to give you treatment if you are underinsured or don’t have enough funds to pay the bills
  • You might be required to pay an upfront cash payment to an expensive foreign hospital
  • Your health insurance might not provide you with cover outside of Canada and can decline to pay your medical fees while abroad
  • Your territorial or provincial health plan might only pay a portion, or nothing, towards your medical care while you’re abroad, and they will never pay any bills upfront

How to Buy Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can get purchased via one of the following:

  • Insurance broker
  • Travel agent
  • Credit card company

Your employer’s insurance provider

What Does Travel Insurance Cover

There are three things that your travel insurance must cover, no matter where you are travelling.

  1. Pre-existing medical conditions – Your insurer must give you a written agreement that confirms what your pre-existing medical conditions are covered.
  2. Medical evacuation – Your policy must cover any medical evacuation to the nearest suitable medical care center or evacuation back to Canada. You should also have cover for a medical escort, who will accompany you back to your final destination.
  3. Repatriation – Your travel insurance must include repatriation in the case of your death. The policy must cover the preparation and return to Canada of your remains.

Travel insurance coverage will differ between each company and depend on what you’re willing to pay. Here’s a list of common services that you can get covered for:

  • Air ambulance and regular ambulance costs
  • Prescription drugs
  • Outpatient services
  • Vehicle repatriation should you fall ill and unable to drive it home
  • Rental car damage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

If you’re planning an adventurous trip with high-risk activities, consider getting a comprehensive travel insurance plan covering these adventures. High-risk activities are generally not covered on standard plans. Examples of high-risk activities can include scuba diving, snowboarding, or skiing.

Traveling During COVID-19

Travelling abroad during the global pandemic can get risky, so you need to ensure your travel insurance provider covers a few things, such as:

  • Non-COVID-19 expenses related to emergencies, medical COVID-19-related expenditures, and interruption of your trip.
  • Quarantine costs in case you get infected during your trip with COVID-19.
  • Ensure you get covered for the entire trip and not have limited options.
  • Extended stays outside of Canada should get cover.

Remember that you may have limited options to fly home due to decreased flight availability should you need medical care in Canada.

Recognize the Terms and Conditions of Your Policy

The responsibility lies with you to understand all the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. Ensure you’ve read all the fine print and get help should you not understand anything.

Avoid non-disclosure and give as much information as possible to the insurance provider. The insurance company will provide you with all the details of your policy in writing should you need transparency over anything.

Before undergoing any medical procedure or treatment while abroad, get your insurer’s approval; failure to do so can get these treatments declined. Your travel insurance provider will also clarify if the treatment you need to undergo gets covered under your insurance.

Should you undergo any medical treatment, ensure you get an invoice and thorough report from the treating hospital or doctor. It might be a struggle to get these documents once you’re back home and thousands of kilometers away. Original receipts need to get submitted, but make sure you keep copies to avoid any delays in your claims.

While travelling, keep details of your insurance with you at all times, and give a copy to a family member or friend back home in Canada.

Global Travel Advisories

Before travel, check the Global Travel Advice and Advisories to ensure your final destination is listed as an unsafe country for travel purposes. Check this list when you start making travel plans and again before you fly.

If the Canadian government issues a Travel Advisory against your destination of choice, and you need medical care while in that country, your insurance company can decline your medical claim.


Before you embark on any trip, make sure you have the right amount of coverage to ensure you are safe and medically protected while abroad.

Know what you are buying by researching your needs and finding travel insurance that caters to these needs. Be aware of any exclusions, limitations, terms, and conditions before you depart from Canada.

Ask as many questions as you can when selecting travel insurance, and make sure you understand that there may be deductibles that need to get covered by you should you claim for something.

Once you have travel insurance in place, get in your car or board that flight and have a great time knowing you get covered for most emergencies!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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