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Travel insurance is more popular than ever following the Covid-19 crisis. Canadian travellers saw how expensive and disruptive the pandemic was to their travel plans and their wallets.
Did you know that the Canadian travel insurance industry paid out $950 million in claims in 2020 fueled by trip cancellations after Covid-19 shut international borders? (according to the Canadian Life & Health Insurance Association)? These nearly billion dollars reimbursed insured Canadian travellers for their lost flights, cancelled hotel rooms and missed reservations. Those without travel insurance lost thousands of dollars.
This travel insurance guide covers why you may want the insurance, what it covers, what it may cost you, and how it can help protect your travel plans post Covid-19.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is an insurance policy that protects your investment in a trip. It reimburses for financial losses of a cancelled or interrupted trip, as well as emergency medical care during travel, emergency evacuation, damage to a rental car, lost luggage and more. The medical care component is critical in a country like Canada. Out-of-province care costs more and offers less than in patients' home province.
Travel insurance takes different forms. It can be purchased as an individual policy or as an add-on to a travel purchase like a flight. It may even be included as a credit card benefit when you use yours to make a travel purchase.
What does travel insurance cover?
What is covered by your travel insurance depends on the insurer and the level of coverage you chose. It commonly covers emergency medical care, trip cancellation, trip interruption and lost or damaged baggage.
Travel insurance is customized based on the needs of your specific trip. A basic plan covering just flight cancellation may be fine if you already have supplemental individual medical coverage and are travelling within Canada. On the other hand, if you are planning a ski trip to the French Alps, a comprehensive plan with emergency medical care and evacuation back home could help set your mind at ease if you experience a bad fall on the slopes.
Manulife’s CoverMe is one of the most popular travel insurance providers in Canada, here is what their Single Trip All-inclusive plan offers:
|Type of coverage||Amount|
|Emergency medical care||$10 million|
|Trip cancellation or interruption||$3,500|
|Baggage lose or damage||$1,000|
|Flight and travel accidents||$100,000|
Other comprehensive travel insurance plans off similar coverages. Evaluate how much risk you are comfortable with, the availability of healthcare in your destination and whether you can afford a cancelled trip when deciding on your coverage.
What are the different types of travel insurance?
There are multiple types of travel insurance. The most common are:
- Baggage insurance - Did you make it to that Caribbean island or European capital, but your luggage did not? It does not have to ruin your trip. This insurance will give you some spending money to get essentials due to a delay or replace it if it gets lost.
- Emergency medical insurance - You cannot put a price on your health. This essential type of travel insurance protects you if you get injured or sick while away.
- Trip cancellation - Have an emergency back home before your trip? If you are unable to travel, this coverage will reimbursed what you spent on nonrefundable travel.
- Trip interruption - Miss a connection flight? Maybe you need to return home early? That is okay, you are covered. This is similar to trip cancellation insurance, but covers you during a trip rather than before it.
- All-inclusive policies - Want to be prepared for anything? These policies include all of above insurance types.
Finally, when purchasing travel insurance consider how much you will be travelling in the year. Single trip and annual coverage options exist. Annual plans may save you money if you intend to travel two or more times per year.
How much does travel insurance cost?
A basic plan for a 30-year old single traveller could be as little as $26 for a week, while a comprehensive plan could cost that same traveller $125.
How much travel insurance costs depends on the length of your trip, the destination, the desired coverage and your age. We recommend plans that include emergency medical coverage.
|Age of traveller||Trip length||Type of coverage||Destination||Price|
|25 years old||1 month||Basic||Japan||$90.02|
|50 years old||2 weeks||Comprehensive||United States||$296.18|
|50 years old||2 weeks||Comprehensive||France||$327.45|
|75 years old||2 week||Comprehensive||Mexico||$333.31|
Try our comparison tool to get personalized travel insurance quotes for your upcoming trip. Compare rates, explore options and find the best policy for you.
When should I buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance can be purchased anytime between booking and departure, but we recommend booking travel insurance at the same time that you book your trip.
Booking as soon as possible ensures greater protection. Remember that once you already have a problem, it is too late to buy insurance. If something happens between booking your trip and purchasing insurance, you risk losing your investment.
How does credit card travel insurance work?
Travel insurance is a benefit on many credit cards. It is worth checking what your card includes before purchasing a separate policy. You may already have sufficient coverage.
!You are usually only covered for expenses purchased on that credit card. Buy your plane tickets on one card, but the hotel on another? The first company will not reimburse you for a hotel issue. Additionally, terms and exclusions may be more restrictive than a standalone plane. Credit card travel insurance is a wonderful benefit, but weigh whether its coverage is sufficient for you and your trip.
The best travel credit cards have offerings like this:
|Type of coverage||Amount|
|Emergency medical||Unlimited 15 days/year|
|Event ticket cancellation||$1,000|
|Rental car coverage||$100,000|
Does travel insurance cover COVID-19?
Many travel insurance plans now specifically cover Covid-19 cancellation and medical expenses. They may reimburse costs incurred from a mandatory quarantine, Covid-19-related medical expenses, and trip interruption and cancellation. Some specific Covid-19 plans only cover Covid-19-related expenses and do not automatically include coverage for other medical needs.
It is worth verifying details carefully before deciding on a Covid-19 travel insurance policy. Covid-19 coverage and news change frequently, so check with your service providers for the latest information.
There are a few important points to consider:
Coverage may be explicitly excluded in your policy if the destination countries or regions are under an “avoid non-essential travel” or “avoid all travel” advisory at the time of purchase.
Your Covid-19 vaccination status may affect your coverage. If you are unvaccinated by choice, your insurer may declare your claims ineligible.
Do I need private health care coverage when travelling outside Canada?
Yes, we always recommend travel medical insurance when travelling abroad.
Health care prices and standards can be very different while travelling. Some public provincial plans offer some coverage, but it may be insufficient. Your provincial plan covers may only pay what the cost would be back at home, not the actual price at your destination. Even then, you likely have to pay out-of-pocket and request reimbursement later.
In other countries, like the neighbouring United States, treatment is exceedingly expensive. The average overnight in a hospital there costs around $14,000 CAD! Imagine having to pay that out-of-pocket.
In some countries, healthcare facilities may request treatment upfront. They may refuse treatment if you are unable to pay. This alone makes emergency medical insurance extremely valuable.
Do I need travel insurance within Canada?
We recommend medical travel insurance while travelling within Canada. Specific plans are available for internal travellers. While Canadian citizens and residents are guaranteed basic emergency care by the Canada Health Act, this does not include prescription drugs and ambulance services. Your OHIP coverage from Ontario will not cover you for a private hospital, laboratory or paramedic services while visiting British Columbia.
Additionally, payment for medical services may be required upfront, leaving you responsible for seeking reimbursement from your home province upon your return.
Canadian residents travelling within Canada may qualify for a discount on their medical travel insurance. One popular insurer offers a 50% discount versus their abroad plans.
When travelling outside of your province or territory without adequate travel insurance, you assume risk. Note that you may already have sufficient coverage if you have a supplemental individual or group private health insurance plan.
Want to protect yourself while travelling in Canada? Compare the best travel insurance medical plans anonymously today.
What is the best travel insurance for visitors to Canada?
Leading Canadian travel insurance companies offer medical travel insurance to visitors. These can be perfect for non-residents in the country on vacation, business or visiting family. These plans can be a lifeline for people living in Canada who have not yet qualified for public health insurance.
The best travel insurance for visitors to Canada depends on that traveller’s needs. Additionally, plans may be available to them from their home country.
If you are sponsoring a parent or grandparent to visit you in Canada, did you know that you are required to purchase super visa insurance. Learn more and compare the best super visa insurance plan in Canada in our super visa guide.
What are the best travel insurance companies?
The best travel insurance company for you depends on your profile, where you are travelling and the coverage that you need.
Popular private health insurance companies in Canada include:
What does travel insurance for seniors cover?
Travel insurance for seniors offers increased medical coverage over other plans and coverage for stable pre-existing conditions. It works like any other emergency medical insurance plan, but is adapted to the needs of senior travellers.
Leading plans medical travel insurance for seniors plans offer:
|Comprehensive emergency medical||up to $5 million|
|Coverage for pre-existing conditions||yes|
|Direct payment of eligible emergency medical bills||yes|
|24/7 emergency assistance||yes|
What does travel insurance for snowbirds cover?
Travel medical insurance for snowbirds commonly covers the following medical expenses:
- Medical treatments
- Prescription medications
- Paramedics and ambulance rides
- Repatriation to Canada
- Emergency dental care
Snowbird insurance policies do not usually cover elective treatments. Those should wait until you have returned to Canada.
Snowbirds are people who travel to warmer climates during the cold Canadian winter. They are usually retirees. Travel insurance is particularly important for these travellers. Many of them go to warm parts of the United States, the country with world’s highest medical care costs.
Snowbirds may be more at risk for a medical emergency while away due to the length of their trips and underlying health conditions.
To learn more see our guide to snowbird travel insurance.
How do I buy travel insurance online?
The easiest way to purchase travel insurance is by using an online comparison tool like ours. See rates and coverage options quickly without giving up personal data.
Alternatively, you may purchase travel insurance through a travel agent, an insurance broker, your private individual or group health insurer or a travel credit card.
Does travel insurance cover cruises?
Yes, travel insurance plans frequently cover cruises. When shopping for a plan, be sure to verify that yours offers cruise travel insurance coverage.
To give an example, RBC offers two popular examples, their Deluxe and TravelCare (for seniors) packages.
- Cruise cancellation or interruption due to mechanical failure or weather
- Catch up costs for a missed departure due to a cancelled flight
- Unused shore excursion tickets (due to illness or injury)
- Last-minute cancellations due to a covered reason
- Lost luggage, passports and medications
- Eligible emergency medical expenses
- 24-hour worldwide emergency medical and travel assistance
- Repatriation costs
See our guides on travel insurance in Canada:
- Your guide to super visa insurance in Canada
- [Survey] The pandemic has reduced the desire to travel for over 51% of Canadians
- Is AMA travel insurance the best for you?
- Is TD travel insurance the best for you?
- Is CIBC travel insurance the best for you?
- Is BMO (Bank of Montreal) travel insurance the best for you?
- Is World Nomads travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Scotiabank travel insurance the best for you?
- Is RBC travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Medipac travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Johnson travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Goose travel insurance the best for you?
- Is GMS travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Desjardins travel insurance the best for you?
- Is CARP travel insurance the best for you?
- Is CAA travel insurance the best for you?
- Is BCAA travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Allianz travel insurance the best for you?
- Is 21st Century travel insurance the best for you?
- Is Manulife travel insurance the best for you?
- How to get the best insurance for snowbirds
- [Map] How is the vaccination passport applied worldwide?
- [Tourism] Another $ 52 billion loss for the industry across Canada in 2021 compared to 2019
- Where Can Canadians Still Travel Abroad ?