Your Guide to Purchasing Travel Health Insurance

If you are planning a trip outside of Canada, purchasing travel health insurance is a smart idea. Your provincial health care plan will only provide you with very limited coverage in another country, leaving you to foot the majority of the bill for any medical care you might need. Travel health insurance plans were created to provide coverage for the wide gap between what your health plan will pay and the actual cost of health care abroad.

What do travel health insurance plans cover?

There are a range of health insurance plans that offer differing levels of coverage. Some plans offer unlimited emergency medical coverage to subscribers, guaranteeing that there will be no surprise bills no matter how serious the emergency might be or how much care is required. Others set a limit on the coverage, generally in the $1 -$5 million range. Some plans even provide free coverage to children under twelve when traveling with an adult who is covered.

Although each plan has its own specific exclusions, most plans cover care provided in the emergency room, hospital stays, necessary surgery and procedures, prescription drugs and ambulance services. Some other common benefits of travel health insurance are medical evacuation of an injured person back home to Canada as well as other travel expenses that might be associated with the emergency such as recovery of your car.

Most travel health insurance plans offer a comprehensive package of coverage for medical services to protect you from most, if not all, of the possible expenses that might be incurred as the result of an accident or unexpected illness while traveling.

What else might be included with the medical coverage?

Many travel insurance plans are package deals that include not just the medical coverage you need, but also trip cancellation and lost baggage coverage. These can be extremely helpful if you fall ill prior to your trip and are forced to cancel. Few airline tickets today are refundable, and if you are unable to leave on your trip you could lose all of the money you paid for the tickets. Trip cancellation protects you from this type of expense. This type of policy also provides coverage for expenses that result from being forced to end your trip early.

If you are traveling by air, you should also consider coverage for your baggage. If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged, this type of coverage will pay for the loss. This is especially important if you are changing planes more than once or traveling with valuables.

Multi-trip or Annual Travel Medical Coverage.

If you travel frequently, an annual or multi-trip policy might be the best choice for you. It provides you with the emergency medical coverage you need every time you cross the border of your home province or into another province, or another country. This type of coverage can be purchased for a period of one year, and allows unlimited trips during that time period, although there may be restrictions on how long each trip can be. You may not think about it, but even if you simply cross the border into the United States several times a year on a shopping trip or to visit friends and family, you are taking a risk each time. Even a short trip can end in disaster if you don’t have the coverage you need when an emergency occurs.

For people who do travel outside of Canada on a regular basis, an annual plan is generally the more financially savvy choice, as it will cost less in the long run than purchasing a single trip plan every time you travel. The best way to decide which is the right choice for you is to look at your travel plans for the year and add up the cost of a single-trip policy for each. Bear in mind that there is not only the financial savings to consider, but the convenience factor as well. Once you have purchased an annual policy, you can head for the airport without worry; even if a trip comes up at the last minute.

Shopping for travel health insurance.

Once you have determined whether you need single trip or annual coverage, you can start shopping around for a plan that suits your needs and budget. There are several companies offering travel insurance for Canadians. Some are brokers, which means they can quote multiple companies and allow you to compare. Others are direct insurers, such as Blue Cross of Canada, a popular choice. Many companies and brokers offer online insurance quotes, allowing you to gather and compare the quotes from the comfort of your home.

When comparing policies, remember that you will need to look beyond the cost of the policy and compare them on a deeper level. One policy may be much cheaper than another because it doesn’t offer nearly as much coverage. Ensure that you are selecting a policy that provides all of the coverage you need; it’s worth paying a little more to make sure you have the right level of coverage for your trip. Read the fine print! Taking the time to choose wisely before you purchase can prevent problems when you’re traveling and in need of coverage.

While purchasing travel health insurance may seem a little daunting, it simply isn’t worth the risk of leaving Canada without proper coverage. Medical care in many countries is astronomically expensive; so head out on your vacation with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that whatever happens, wherever it happens, you’re covered.

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