9 Things You Need to Know About Travel Insurance Before Your Next Trip


White sand beaches, sparking blue waters, a Pina Colada, and… a trip to the ER?

It’s not something we like to think about – but there’s always the possibility of falling ill or getting injured while you’re off on your dream vacation. While nobody plans to get sick or hurt while travelling, it’s still a good idea to plan ahead… just in case. Because similar to life insurance, travel insurance is designed to protect you from going into debt should the unexpected occur.

Here are 9 things to know about travel insurance before you head off on summer vacation:

1.Medical care outside of Canada can be exorbitantly expensive

– especially if you’re visiting our neighbours to the south. It may be hard to believe, but below is a breakdown of some of the average costs of medical care for visitors to the US (source).

  • doctor’s visit/consultation: $200 to $300 (treatment is extra)
  • visit to the ER: $2,000
  • stay at the hospital: $3,000 per day
  • trip in an ambulance: $400-1,200 (depending on mileage)
  • trip in an air ambulance: $2,000 to $200,000+

But luckily…

2. If you are young and healthy, travel insurance is super affordable for a short trip

We’re looking at you, Gen Z and Millennials! For example, a healthy traveller in their 30s can expect to pay just over $50 for a two-week trip. At such a minimal cost, you can’t go wrong purchasing coverage before you go. Especially considering…

3. If you are living with a health condition, travel insurance will be a little more costly

But all the more reason to get coverage before you go! If your condition takes a turn for the worse while you’re away from home, you could be stuck with a very big bill – one that could leave you with a lot of debt. Medical tests and screenings can range in cost from $100 to more than $5,000 (source) and medications are no cheaper – prescription diabetes meds can cost $500 and up (source), while a single epinephrine auto-injector can range from $340 to $700+ (source). And guess what…

4. Requiring medical care mid-flight would also require travel insurance

Especially if the plane is forced to make an emergency landing outside of Canada. That’s why all travel insurance companies will tell you to begin coverage on the day you leave (no matter how late in the evening) and end it on the day you return (even if you’re back on Canadian soil early in the morning). Makes sense, right? But don’t forget…

5. Even a weekend trip to the US should be covered

You certainly don’t want an unexpected accident to turn a weekend of innocent fun into a lifetime of debt. The good news is, if you’re looking at travel insurance for a quick two-day trip, it could cost you less per day than a fancy drink at a bar in Manhattan. But wait, there’s more…

6. If you think you may need to cancel your trip last minute

You may want to consider Trip Cancellation insurance. This type of travel insurance is significantly more expensive than regular travel insurance, but if Covid taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen at any time. So you may feel more comfortable planning for the unexpected. And of course…

7. If you think you may need to head home suddenly

If an aging parent or serious illness is making you think you’ll need to hop on a flight back home mid vacation, you may want to consider Trip Interruption insurance. The good news is, this type of coverage is lumped in with #6, so at least the added expense covers both scenarios. There are real-life stories of travellers heading home mid-trip to attend a funeral, and then flying back to finish their vacation – all at the expense of the insurer. Well, that’s good news! But we’re not done yet…

8. Travelling from one province to another?

Travel insurance may be recommended in this scenario too. Universal health care in Canada is regulated by the province or territory we live in, so what’s covered for an Ontario resident may not be covered for that same person when travelling to Alberta. Who would’ve thought?! And finally…

9. When it comes to travel insurance, there are some surprises

It’s important to understand that certain pre-existing conditions (that’s travel insurance lingo for a health condition) may not be covered at all. You may be surprised to learn that: (a) pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition, and (b) many insurers will not cover a pregnant traveller in her first or third trimester due to the higher probability of needing medical intervention during these stages of pregnancy. In this case, it is often advised not to travel.

A final tip

Make sure to never ever hide an existing or worsening condition, a new diagnosis, or – yup – a pregnancy, because in the event you fall ill and need your medical care covered, it would likely be denied for withholding this type of pertinent information. Same goes for if you travel to a country with a travel advisory – this would be a no-no for travel insurers! Always make sure to speak to an insurance expert (and possibly your doctor) if any questions come up during the application. Because you’ll want to be sure you’re actually covered when you need it most.

We said it before, and we’ll say it again

Travel insurance is similar to life insurance in that it protects you and your loved ones from going into debt should an unfortunate event occur. A few dollars today can not only save your life – but it can save your life savings.