Do I Need Travel Insurance?

The short answer is yes, you should get emergency medical travel insurance. However, the other types of travel insurance, like cancellation and baggage insurance, are optional, depending on your needs and tolerance for risk.

When you’re in Canada, your provincial health coverage looks after medical and hospital expenses. Because of this, Canadians rarely (if ever) see a hospital bill. As Canadians, our excellent health care coverage often means that medical insurance is something that we don’t think about very often, since we rarely see the actual costs of medical care.

Policies and coverage can change at any time, without warning. This article is only intended as general advice. Please check your own policy carefully.

When we travel outside of Canada (or even our home province), our provincial health care coverage can be limited. Only a fraction of medical of the cost of medical expenses may be covered if you’re sick or injured out of country.

Medical expenses in the United States can be especially expensive. Stories abound about travellers visiting the US without travel insurance, who end up getting stuck with an astronomical medical bill when they’re sick or injured. Travel insurance serves a specific purpose. It is designed to pay for unexpected costs that may come up when you’re travelling.

Medical travel insurance is really a necessity, even if you’re young and healthy. Though you’re less likely to fall sick than someone older, accidents do happen. And they probably happen more often to younger people, who are more prone to take risks.

What about the other types of travel insurance?

Though most people only think of medical travel insurance, travel insurance can also cover:

  • trip cancellation
  • trip interruption
  • lost or stolen baggage
  • accidental death insurance
  • emergency transport back to Canada
  • collision coverage for rental cars

While medical travel insurance is a necessity, whether you get other types of travel insurance depends on your needs and how much risk you are willing to take. If you’re debating getting travel insurance (beyond basic medical travel insurance), here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the chances that you’ll need travel insurance?
  • How willing are you to take risks?
  • What is peace of mind worth to you?

Tip for Visitors to Canada InsuranceBefore buying travel insurance, check with your work health insurance plan and your credit card companies. You may have travel insurance included as a benefit on one of those policies. If you want insurance for your belongings, check with your homeowner’s policy, as you may have some personal property insurance while travelling.

In some situations, trip cancellation and interruption insurance is an especially good idea. These include:

  • a trip planned far into the future
  • cruises (known for having little or no leniency for cancellations)
  • complicated travel plans
  • especially expensive trips
  • package deals that won’t allow you to change a portion of your trip

Tip for Visitors to Canada InsuranceNo matter what type of travel insurance you choose, shop around for the best deal. Comparison websites like Kanetix.ca and Squaremouth can help you find the best deal. And if you happen to forget travel insurance until you’re on your trip, try World Nomads, who will insure you after you’ve left home.

Need More Help?

*As always, the information in this post is from one Canadian traveller to another and please remember, we are not travel insurance agents. We have just spent years abroad and have gotten to know the ins and outs of the industry. If you have any travel insurance questions, please talk to a qualified travel insurance agent or broker. Finally, insurance plans can and do change all the time so always consult your insurance policy since that is the legal document to which you are agreeing to.

Lanie Kay

A true world traveller, Lanie Kay has been to over 30 countries in the past decade and loves nothing more than waking up in a foreign country. Born and raised in western Canada, she knows the value of a dollar and, just like everyone, wishes there was more transparency when dealing with large companies.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I am a Canadian citizen living in Ontario, born in the U.K. Would I be covered for medical expenses by the national health care service in the U.K. while on a trip?

    1. John, you need to be a permanent resident of the UK to be covered under the National Health Care Service and also have a National Insurance Number.

      Since you were born in the UK, if you planned on being there for an extended amount of time you might be considered for a number however it wouldn’t cover you from day one so you still need travel insurance. You would also be subject to an interview and would need to provide documentation proving you’re a UK resident. You would also need to start paying into the system.

      You can find out more about UK health care at their government Health Care site: https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance and go here to apply for a card: https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number

      Hope that helps!

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