Travel can be exciting, relaxing and rewarding, but if something goes wrong while you are away from home, it can quickly become a financial nightmare. Fortunately, with the right travel insurance coverage, you can prevent an already bad situation such as an accident from becoming much worse when the bills start to roll in. Each year many Canadians leave their home provinces to journey to destinations as close as the next province or as far away as another continent. Although you many have become accustomed to not thinking about your medical bills, when you're traveling it's something you need to consider. Provincial and Territorial health plans cover residents at home, but may not provide the same level of coverage when you leave. Medical coverage isn't the only thing to consider; trip cancellation and interruption insurance can also save you a lot of money.
When do you need travel health insurance?
The short answer is, every time you leave your home province. But of course, it's a little more complicated than that. Even if you are only traveling within Canada, you may still need extra coverage. Most of the provinces and territories have an agreement that allows them to accept your out of province health plan card and bill for services directly to your home province's plan. If you are in Quebec, however, you should be prepared to pay for all medical expenses out of pocket, and then submit for reimbursement to your own province. In the case of a medical emergency, this might be a lot of money. Even in provinces with reciprocal agreements, not all medical expenses will be covered. Supplemental health insurance coverage is a good idea for all travelers; even those who don't plan to cross the border into another country.
If you are leaving Canada and entering another country, doing so without travel health insurance means taking a huge financial risk. While your health plan may be willing to reimburse you for some bills, it is likely to be only a fraction of the total cost, especially in the case of a major emergency resulting in hospitalization. Emergency medical care in other countries may cost far more than it does in Canada, but health plans pay only their standard rate for care. You will be held responsible for the difference, and the difference could be thousands of dollars.
What type of travel insurance do you need?
This depends on a number of factors, such as the duration of your trip, your destination, and how you plan to get there. If you are traveling by air, it's a good idea to consider trip cancellation and interruption coverage in addition to medical coverage. Airline tickets are expensive, and in many cases you won't get your money back if you miss a flight due to illness. Trip cancellation insurance helps you to get back those expenditures that would otherwise be non-refundable. Trip interruption insurance serves a similar purpose - if you are forced to return early from a trip, it will help pay for travel expenses related to changing flight dates as well as non-refundable hotel rooms you may already have paid for.
Many Canadians take to the road each year to explore North America. If you are planning a road trip, you many not require trip cancellation insurance, but there are some other things to keep in mind. In most cases, your auto insurance will cover you in the United States - but you should always verify this before you leave! However, if you drive over the border into Mexico, you will likely not be covered for anything that might occur there, including accidents or theft. Supplementary insurance can be purchased to keep you covered south of the American border.
Of course, medical coverage is a must have every time you travel, no matter how you get there. Package deals are available to provide you with all of the coverage you need for your trip.
Even short trips aren't worth the risk!
Many Canadians think it's ok to skip the health coverage when they are merely crossing the border into the United States for a quick weekend trip. While it could save you a few dollars if nothing goes wrong, it will cost you a lot if something does. You don't have to be far from home or gone for long for an accident or illness to occur. A car accident that sends you to the emergency room can happen absolutely anywhere and at any time, and if that place and time happen to be your weekend trip to the States, it could wind up costing you a small fortune.
Hospitals in the United States will not bill your health plan for medical coverage - they will expect you to pay. And it is likely that the reimbursement you do receive will be a drop in the proverbial bucket of medical debt. No matter how long your trip outside of Canada is, be sure you have the coverage you need.
No one expects something to go wrong while they are travelling, but smart travelers know there is always the possibility. We all grew up with the famous phrase "Better safe than sorry", and when it comes to medical coverage while travelling, those are definitely words to live by. Online quotes for cheap travel insurance are available to help make your travel insurance shopping quick and easy, and give you options to give you the coverage you need.