Unless your travels keep you within the confines of Canada, you’ll need some form of travel insurance. As Canadians, we’re lucky to have our medical bills paid for by the government, within certain limits. But once you cross an international border, that coverage no longer applies.
And that’s just for medical insurance. Other issues can happen that can cost you big-time, like losing your luggage, trip interruptions, or theft of your belongings when abroad.
But with travel insurance, you can have otherwise hefty expenses covered without having to mortgage your house to pay for them. By paying a certain fee, you’ll be able to take a travel insurance policy with you when you travel to cover your bills when an unexpected incident occurs.
Basically, travel insurance will protect you from financial risks and losses that can happen when you’re far from home. Whatever the loss may be, as long as it’s covered under your policy, you’ll be reimbursed for the fees incurred.
How Does Travel Insurance Work?
Like most other insurance policies, travel insurance works by covering your financial losses after filing a claim. Your claim will need to first be approved before you are financially covered for costs incurred as a result of an unfortunate incident. You’ll need to provide some sort of proof of what happened to help your insurance provider assess the situation and reimburse you appropriately.
For instance, if your luggage was lost and you need to purchase clothing and other essentials, you could file a claim to get reimbursement. Or, if you develop an infection that requires medical attention and medicine, your travel insurance claim could cover the cost of these expenses. This is why travel insurance is so handy.
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It’s important to note that not all situations are eligible for coverage under a travel insurance policy. You will be given a contract that will outline all of the incidents that are covered and the timeline that your coverage will apply. If the incident in question is not covered in the policy, then you won’t be reimbursed.
For instance, let’s say your travel insurance policy provides medical coverage for up to 31 days. If you decide to travel for a longer period of time than that and something happens on the 33rd day, you won’t be covered.
It’s important to read the fine print about what is and isn’t covered in your policy. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised when you need to file a claim and discover that you’re not covered for that particular situation. It’s a good idea to bring your policy documents along with you when you travel for reference, including what you’re covered for and contact information to get in touch with an insurance advisor quickly.
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The Best Travel Insurance Providers In Canada
Rates.ca is an online platform that compares rates and insurance policies from multiple different insurers. Simply fill out their online application form to get a list of quotes from top-notch brands like Blue Cross, GMS, Tugo, Allianz Global Assistance and more. Whether you need snowbird travel insurance, emergency travel medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, Rates.ca has it all.
Insurance Hotline is an online insurance brokerage that has been in business for 26 years. They offer travel insurance, snowbird travel insurance, and trip cancellation insurance. Simply fill out their online application form to compare travel insurance rates and coverages from over 30 providers. It is an easy and fast way to get the travel coverage you need for the rate you want.
Manulife is an organization that provides individuals and businesses with insurance and investment solutions. They are a well-established company with over 809 billion dollars in assets. They offer travel insurance to Canadians, students studying abroad, and to visitors travelling in Canada. Their travel insurance package for Canadians includes emergency medical expenses, trip cancellations, baggage loss, and more.
TD Travel Insurance
TD travel insurance provides insurance for medical emergencies, trip cancellation, trip interruption and more. Depending on your needs TD offers a range of travel insurance products that are sure to meet your needs. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a student traveller, a snowbird you can find the coverage you need with TD.
CAA-Quebec Travel works with Orion Travel Insurance to provide its products. Their services are only available to Quebec residents. Quebecers can gain access to their exclusive travel insurance products, which includes travel insurance with or without medical coverage, emergency medical care insurance, trip cancellation, or interruption insurance. To get a quote simply fill out their online application form.
BCCA is a member of the CAA and the AAA and provides its services to residents in British Columbia and Yukon. They offer travel medical insurance for single trips as well as multi-trips for those travelling more than once a year. They also have a trip protection package which includes insurance for trip cancellations or delays, baggage loss, and more.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
The exact policy that you take out will determine precisely what is covered and what’s not. That said, the average travel insurance policy will usually include the following:
Trip Cancellation Or Interruption
One of the biggest concerns among travellers is the potential for their trip to be cancelled, whether it’s because of a flight cancellation, hotel issues, or other bookings related to travel. Unless you make a booking that includes the option to cancel, you’re likely stuck with your flight or hotel, even if something goes wrong. And we all know how expensive airfare and accommodations are.
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Travel insurance usually covers trip cancellations if a flight has been cancelled, or even if you are unable to go through with your plans because of some unforeseen situation that is forcing you to stay home. Your insurance will list the scenarios that qualify for you to cancel your trip and be reimbursed for the fees paid for flights and accommodations, but they tend to include the following:
- Illness, injury, or death of yourself or a travel companion
- Damage to your destination or cancellation of your flight due to a natural disaster
- Layoff from work
- Requirement to work
- Terrorist activity
- Bankruptcy of your travel agency
- Requirement to report for jury duty
There could be other reasons that may be covered, which your policy will outline.
Another common reason why travellers take out a travel insurance policy is to ensure they are covered for the cost of medical care while abroad. This could be for something as simple as a doctor’s appointment or medication or something more major like hospitalization, emergency surgery, or treatment.
In the case of the latter, these costs can be exorbitant, and many travellers have found themselves having to borrow money from family or even mortgaging their homes to access the funds needed to pay for such expensive fees.
Find out if you need travel insurance when travelling within Canada.
Lost Or Stolen Baggage
It happens from time to time. Travellers end up at their destination only to discover that their luggage is nowhere to be found. Fortunately, the baggage coverage portion of a travel insurance policy can cover you for your personal belongings if your baggage is ever lost, stolen, or damaged. Even if your luggage turns up eventually, you can still be covered for the time that you had to go without your belongings.
Natural disasters, terrorist activity, and other issues could cause your travel destination to undergo an emergency evacuation. Though this is a rare circumstance, it has happened, and if you have travel insurance, you may be reimbursed for expenses relating to getting you out of there, such as airlifts, ambulance rides to a hospital, and flights back home.
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When Should You Buy Travel Insurance?
Many people have some form of travel insurance coverage through their employer, while others may also have travel insurance with their credit card issuer. In these cases, buying an outside travel insurance policy may not be necessary if the type of travelling you’re doing would be adequately covered under what you already have available to you.
But there may be circumstances where buying additional coverage or a completely new policy may be necessary, such as in the following situations:
- Your employer does not offer travel insurance
- Your credit card does not offer travel insurance
- You have an underlying medical condition that could increase the odds of requiring medical attention while travelling abroad
- You’re a thrill-seeker who loves adventure (which could boost the odds of a physical accident)
- You travel with expensive belongings or luggage
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What Affects The Cost Of Your Travel Insurance?
There are a few factors that influence the cost of your travel insurance policy, including the following:
Cost Of Your Trip
How much you pay for your trip will have an impact on the cost of your travel insurance policy. The more expensive your trip is, the more you may have to pay for your policy.
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Length Of Your Trip
The longer you plan to travel, the more you may have to pay for coverage. In some cases, travel insurance policies may have a cap on how long the insurer will cover you while you’re away. But, there are providers that can offer coverage for months for a single trip, depending on your exact circumstances.
The older you are, the higher the risk of you requiring some form of medical attention, whether you travel or not. Given the higher risk associated with age, a travel insurance policy will likely cost you more if you’re an older individual compared to a young adult.
If you have any pre-existing medical condition, you could be faced with a much higher premium. That’s because the odds of travellers with pre-existing conditions filing a claim are higher.
Coverage You Want
You have the option to buy travel insurance that only covers certain issues. For instance, travel medical insurance may be all that you want or need. But all-inclusive travel insurance policies will offer much more coverage, and in this case, you’d have to pay more for this type of policy.
If the destination you intend to travel to has certain travel advisories in place, you may be stuck with paying a higher premium for your policy.
Where Can You Get Travel Insurance?
Like many other insurance types, travel insurance can be obtained from a few different sources:
If you work regularly with a travel agent who you trust, this may be a great place to start. Your agent can recommend reputable travel insurance companies to you based on your needs. They typically work with a network of professionals, including travel insurance companies, so you can always get a few ideas from them.
Find out if you should work with an insurance broker or an insurance agent.
Credit Card Company
Your credit card company will be affiliated with a specific insurance company that will be responsible for covering you during your travels if you choose to go with your card’s policy. Keep in mind that if you take this route, you will be restricted to what they offer. That said, what they provide may be more than enough for what you need.
These middlemen work to connect consumers with insurance providers and do much of the comparison shopping on behalf of people who need a policy. The benefit of working with a broker is that they work on your behalf and not the insurance company. They will also do the leg work needed to find you a company to work with.
Employer’s Insurance Provider
If your employer offers travel insurance, then you may opt to go with what they have to offer. Like your credit card company, your employer will be affiliated with an insurance company that will be behind the coverage you require when you travel. But you will also be limited to what they offer.
Directly With A Travel Agency
You can always do an online search for travel insurance companies and pick and choose who you work with on your own. Keep in mind that going this route might take a little more investigative work on your part as opposed to going with a broker.
Learn more about how to buy travel insurance.
How To Choose A Travel Insurance Policy
When you’re deciding between different travel insurance policies, be sure to compare and assess the following factors:
- Cost. Obviously, the price will be a factor in your decision about which policy to choose. After all, it will be yet another expense that will be part of your travels, so be sure to take cost into consideration when choosing a policy.
- Service model. If you ever need to file a claim, how will they be handled? And who will be handling them? If your claim is much more than what your insurance company typically deals with, they may transfer it over to an adjuster that has more authority to handle the claim.
- Coverage. Take out a policy that offers the exact type of coverage that you need for your trip.
- Deductibles. If you have to file a claim, you may need to pay a deductible first before the coverage kicks in. Find out what your deductible will be before taking out a policy.
- Geographical limitation. Some companies may have restrictions on the destinations of travellers before agreeing to approve a policy.
- Exclusions. Not only should you find out what is covered, but you should also find out what is not covered too.
How To Make A Travel Insurance Claim
If something happens while you’re on your trip that requires the financial assistance of your travel insurance policy, you’ll need to make a claim. To make things easier for you, it’s suggested that you keep a copy of your policy and the contact information of your insurer so that you don’t end up scrambling trying to find a phone number or policy number.
You must get in touch with the insurance provider as soon as possible following any incident, as a delay could limit the maximum benefit that your policy would payout to you. After speaking with an agent, you can start the claims process.
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Depending on what you are filing a claim for, you may be asked for different types of information. For instance, if you have to pay for a doctor’s visit and medication, the insurer may ask to see the physician’s diagnosis and treatment protocol as well as the bill.
Once you’ve filed a claim, it will be assessed by the insurer, and you should receive compensation within a week or two if approved.
What If Your Claim Is Denied?
If your travel insurance provider denies your claim, find out why. Look at the fine print in your policy to see if the incident you are filing a claim for is indeed covered. If not, that could be why you were turned down for coverage.
If you are supposed to be covered, try to see if there is any additional evidence or documentation that you can provide that will further strengthen your case. Also, be sure that your claim does not have any errors or isn’t incomplete.
Get the full explanation as to why you were denied. In the worst-case scenario, you can file an appeal to have your case revisited and escalated. Keep in mind that this process can be slow-going, so you may need to follow up every so often to check in on the status of the appeal.
In some cases, you may not need travel insurance, as you may be already covered in many ways without having to take out additional coverage. But in many other cases, it makes sense to take out a policy, You never know what could happen when you travel abroad and being stuck with a fat bill after an incident can cost you big time. Consider your specific situation and the potential risks that may be involved to help you decide if a policy is needed, and if so, what type of policy is best for you.