What are the Best International Health Insurance Companies in Canada?

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Around 1.5 million Canadians travel abroad each year and the majority of them travel with some form of insurance. However, it's not just missed flights and stolen credit cards that can be a problem! Getting sick or injured when abroad can lead to very costly medical bills. Short-term travel insurance is a nice option if you'll only be away for a week, but for long-term travel and living abroad, international health insurance is best. That's why it's always sensible to have international health insurance.

In this guide, we will break down for you what international health insurance is, how it works and where to find the best deals.

What is international health insurance?

International health insurance is also known as international private medical insurance (IPMI) or expat insurance. IPMI is a type of travel insurance which covers any medical needs you might have while travelling outside of Canada. Some countries may require you to have international health insurance in order to enter the country. Buying international health insurance can be a mandatory part of the visa application process.

When you buy international private medical insurance you will agree to an amount you pay monthly. In return, your medical expenses will be covered, minus a deductible. The amount of your policy's deductible will be agreed upon at the time of purchase. Take a look at the comparison tool at the top of this page to see what levels of deductible are available.

Do you need international health insurance?

You should always have some form of medical insurance while abroad.

The cost of healthcare, especially for non-residents, can vary wildly in other countries. While your Canadian public provincial plan may give you some protection it may well be inadequate. Provincial plans may cover only the cost of treatment in Canada rather than the local rates. In the best-case scenario, you will still likely have to pay upfront and chase a reimbursement later.

2/3 of Canadian travellers visit the United States. Did you know that an average overnight in an American hospital can cost as much as $14,000? This is a potentially life-changing amount to have to pay. It has sadly led to some people not seeking the appropriate medical help they need. Many older Canadian travellers protect themselves when they spend a long time in the United States or the Caribbean with snowbird insurance policies.

Watch out!

Health providers in some countries may require upfront payment or insurance details even for emergency services.

Who should buy international health insurance?

All Canadians travelling abroad should have some form of travel insurance. Canadians living or working abroad, or just those travelling for extended periods should consider having a longer-term form of international health insurance. Are you a digital nomad moving from cafe to cafe across Europe? A trance-loving festival hopper or a retiree who spends half the year in Italy? Maybe you are an international businesswoman who has to do a lot of meetings in person across the Arabian peninsula.

All these people would benefit from an international health insurance policy that ensures they will be protected while working or playing abroad. Similarly, full-time expatriates who do not have healthcare rights in their country of residence would benefit from a Canadian international health insurance plan.

What does travel health insurance international cover?

International travel health insurance is designed who help you cover costs in a medical emergency. This might mean paying for the cost of seeing a doctor, to visiting the hospital after a skiing accident. It could also mean paying for a relative to fly out and stay nearby so they look after you.

In the worst-case scenario, international health insurance for travel can pay the cost to have your body flown back to Canada. The following should be covered in most private international medical insurance policies:

  • Emergency care
  • Repatriation
  • Outpatient care
  • Compassionate visits
  • Chiropracty
  • Infertility treatments
  • Acupuncture
  • Mental health care
  • Dental care
  • Eye care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Radiology
  • Cancer screening

Watch out!

Always remember to read the terms and conditions while paying particular attention to exclusions.

Insurance providers will typically have upper limits on the amount they will pay out for a specific medical procedure or for expenses adjacent to a medical emergency. Let's take a long at Singe Trip coverage from TD insurance to get an idea of what international health insurance will cover and how much they will pay out.

CoverUpper limit of payout
Emergency medical coverage
  • Ambulance
  • Doctor's bills
  • Diagnosis
  • Hospital fees
  • Medical equipment
  • Repatriation
$5 million
Private nurse
Beside Companion coverage
Economy round-trip ticket paid plus $1,500 for meals and accommodation
Repatriation of a dead body
Canada international health insurance

How much does health insurance for international travel cost?

The way to find the best deal is to shop around and compare what different providers offer. For example, William Russel offers medical coverage of up to $1.5 million with their Expat Health Insurance policy for as little as $88 per month.

Some insurers offer different levels of coverage. Let's take a look at the options available from IMG which offer longer-term packages for expats.

PolicyLifetime max benefitDeductible
Global Medical Insurance Bronze
$1 million$250 to $10,000
Global Medical Insurance Silver
$5 million$250 to $10,000
Global Medical Insurance Gold
$5 million$250 to $25,000
Global Medical Insurance Platinum
$8 million$100 to $25,000
Health travel insurance international

Does international health insurance cover cruises?

International traveller's health insurance is more suited for Canadians spending extended amounts of time travelling or working abroad. There are several travel insurance companies, however, that offer specific cruise-focused insurance policies.

Good to know

For more info check out out out travel insurance guide

Similarly, many insurance providers have policies that specifically cater to those who enjoy extreme sports and you will be best served by buying a sports travel insurance policy.

How to find the best international health insurance?

Find the most extensive coverage at the best prices available simply by using the comparison tool at the top of this page. Using this tool you will be able to see what leading providers are offering, decide which is right for you and get a quote today!

Travelling can be stressful but having the right insurance in place means that whatever goes wrong, you know you are covered and will receive the best possible care without having to pay wild amounts for it.

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