Flights? Check. Passport? Check. Travel insurance? In the excitement of planning your next adventure, travel insurance may not be top of mind. However, it is an important thing to pack to ensure you have peace of mind during your escape.
No one plans an accident or medical issue while traveling abroad. Treatment for a broken bone or the flu could cost thousands of dollars in a foreign hospital without proper insurance. If you are out of the country and need to be evacuated, you could be paying upwards of $50,000 without some form of insurance.
Travel insurance helps in the event of a medical emergency or trip interruption. It is important to have the right travel insurance in place, especially if you are leaving home for an extended period of time. You will enjoy the beach much more knowing you are covered for anything unexpected.
Reasons for getting travel insurance
If you’re a healthy person and you’ve never used travel insurance before, you might think it’s unnecessary. Don’t forget: insurance is there for the things you don’t plan for! Here are few reasons why you might need travel insurance:
Your insurance may not extend out of country or out of province
If you become sick or are injured outside of your province, and especially outside of Canada, you will likely pay out of pocket. In Canada, we are used to universal health care, so you might not realize how quickly health care costs can add up!
Travel insurance can help you get medical treatment abroad
If you need medical attention while you’re travelling, a foreign hospital may be hesitant or unwilling to provide treatment if they suspect you can’t pay. Insurance will help you get the treatment you need right away.
If your trip is cut short, travel insurance can help you get home
It’s not just your health that could cause an early end to your trip. There might be a natural disaster or civil unrest where you’re visiting. There could also be an emergency at home you need to go back for. Travel insurance can help with a last minute ticket back home. Travel insurance could also help cover the cost of the rest of the trip you missed out on.
If your credit cards or passport get lost or stolen travel insurance can help
Tourists are often targets for thieves and pickpockets. If you are the victim of a robbery, travel insurance can help you get in touch with the Canadian embassy and your credit card company.
Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost luggage
It’s every traveller’s nightmare: you’re in a foreign country, you don’t speak the language and your luggage is nowhere to be found. Travel insurance can help with that! They may be able to help you locate your lost luggage. If it’s really and truly lost, travel insurance can help cover the costs for the luggage you’ve lost.
Categories of travel insurance
Travel insurance is typically broken down into four categories:
- Medical coverage
- Covers you if you get injured or sick while traveling
- Trip cancellation coverage
- Coverage for flight cancellations
- Covers you if your travel / tour provider gets bankrupt
- Protects you from losing non-refundable expenses
- Trip interruption coverage
- This can cover for you In the event of a natural calamity or unrest
- Also covers for you if you need to cut your trip short and go home immediately because of a death in the family, or a family emergency
- Lost baggage or theft coverage
- Most travel insurance coverage offer some form of baggage insurance
- Coverage can include a replacement passport for lost or stolen passports, or emergency funds if your credit cards get lost or get stolen
What isn’t covered with travel insurance?
There are a few instances where you will not be covered:
- Injuries due to alcohol or drugs
- Injuries suffered while breaking the law
There may be additional things that aren’t covered under your travel insurance plan. Make sure you talk to your insurance broker and read your policy documents carefully so you understand what is and isn’t covered under your policy.
Where do I get travel insurance?
There are a few different options when you’re purchasing travel insurance. Here are a few places you can get travel insurance from:
- From an insurance broker – this is the best bet as you will have a licensed expert making sure you have the exact coverage you need
- Your employer’s insurance provider
- Your credit card company – be sure you carefully read what is and isn’t included with your credit card’s insurance. You may need to top it up with additional insurance to be safe
- Through your travel agent
Quick Question: What if I have coverage through work or a credit card?
Your employee benefits package or credit card may offer protection, but there are likely limits to the coverage. Many employee benefits packages only cover medical costs while credit cards may limit coverage to specific types of travel cancellations. Always be sure to read the small print. You may need additional insurance coverage to make sure you are safe.
Tips to follow before you travel
Here are a few tips that will help keep you safe on your vacation:
- If you see yourself travelling only once a year, single-trip coverage is a good option. If you frequently travel overseas, talk to your broker about multi-trip coverage. It may save you money in the long run.
- Prepare a travel itinerary and make sure to provide a copy to a friend or family member before you leave. Include contact number for hotels you’ll be staying at.
- Keep a separate backup photocopy of your passport and travel documents. That way if your passport gets lost or stolen, you will have a copy. This will make replacing the passport a lot easier.
- Consider the safety of where you are travelling. The Government of Canada website allows you to look up any country in the world to see if it’s safe. Always review recent travel advisories and follow the advice issues by the government.
- Places that are popular with tourists like beach and mountain resorts are generally considered safe.
- A destination may be considered risky if it’s extremely remote and hard to reach.
- If you have any health considerations, check with your doctor before you leave. Discuss with your doctor the places you plan on going to, and how the destination or the travel itself might affect your health.
- Be honest with your doctor about the activities you plan to participate in
- Fill any prescriptions you need and make sure there’s enough for the duration of the trip
- Research where you can get a refill of your prescription if your supplies are lost or stolen.
- Acquire local currency ahead of time. Getting foreign currency may take some time. Order it at least two weeks before you leave. Some banks allow you to order the currency in advance and pick it up at the airport. Talk to your bank to see what options are available.
- Get travel insurance and understand the coverage you have. You should secure travel at least two weeks before you leave. You can get is as early as six months in advance. The usual expected coverage should include:
- Medical evacuation: this should cover for your medical evacuation back to Canada or nearest place with capable medical care. It should also cover medical escort expenses
- Pre-existing medical conditions: always make sure you acquire a written agreement that your insurance company will cover for your pre-existing medical condition
- Repatriation in the event of death while traveling: in case of death, the travel insurance will cover for the preparation and return of your remains back to Canada
- Do your research before participating in extreme sports like bungee jumping, white water rafting, mountain climbing and skiing just to name a few. Look up the companies before you leave and read reviews. Make sure they have any certifications necessary. Don’t cut corners or take unnecessary risks when it comes to your health and safety!
- If you plan on partaking in these types of activities, check the fine print of your travel insurance. Make sure you are covered! You may need to purchase additional coverage.
- For more tips on travel safety check out our Safe Travels Abroad guide.
Considerations when getting travel insurance
When you’re looking for the right travel insurance there are a lot of things to consider. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself or bring up to your insurance broker:
- Deductibles: Are there deductibles? If there are, how much are they?
- Length of coverage: How long are you travelling for? Make sure you have coverage for the entirety of your trip.
- Destination: Where will you be travelling to? Are there any countries where coverage is limited or invalid? Your insurance broker can help you with this question.
- Renewability: If you decide to extend your trip, is it possible to renew or extend your insurance while you’re overseas?
- In case of emergency: Make sure the insurance company you go with has a 24 hour contact number in case of an emergency. Ask if they provide support in case of an emergency.
- Hospitalization coverage: If you get injured or sick in the country you’re traveling to, will hospitalization be covered? This is an important question to ask as this expense can be extremely costly.
What information do I need when purchasing travel insurance?
Here’s some information your insurance broker will require from you when purchasing travel insurance:
- Your date of birth
- Any medical conditions (and a filled-out medical questionnaire if you are over 60)
- Your departure and arrival date(s)
- Your total amount of travel throughout the year (if you travel often, annual travel insurance might be more cost-effective for you over single-trip coverage)
- Where you are travelling to
Essentials to bring when you’re travelling
We’ve created a handy checklist for you to use before you go on vacation.
Less is more when it comes to clothes. Think basics and put comfort above fashion. Try to bring only one or two colours, or bring all neutral colours so everything matches.
- T-shirts and tank tops
- Long sleeved shirts / blouse
- Lightweight and waterproof jacket
- One dressy piece like a dress or nice shirt
- Underwear / bra
- Bathing suit
- Shoes for outdoor activities like running shoes or hiking boots
- One nice pair of shoes
- Flip flops
- Hat – toque if it will be cold, sun hat if you’re headed to a warm destination
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
- Shampoo and conditioner
- A brush or comb
- Hair elastics and bobby pins
- Razor and / or shaving kit
- Glasses and / or contacts and contact solution
- Any medications you have
- Feminine hygiene items
- Basic first aid kit with bandages, pain killers and allergy medicine
- Hand sanitizer
Travelling life savers
Depending on where you’re going and what kind of trip you’re taking, some of these items might come in handy! Take a look at the list and bring any of the below that make sense for your trip.
- Quick-dry towel (great for camping or any trip where towel service isn’t available)
- Earplugs and an eye mask
- Travel pillow
- Journal and a pen
- Money belt
- Combination lock
- Small umbrella
- Book or e-reader
- Insect repellent
- Portable power bank to charge your devices
- Outlet plug adapter
Don’t leave home without these things! Be sure to double check for all these items before you head to the airport.
- A second form of photo ID
- Credit cards and cash in the currency of the place you’re travelling
- Travel Insurance information – make sure you have your policy number and the 24 hour emergency number
- Any tickets you might need for planes, trains, boats, etc.
- Reservation information for hotels, rental cars, etc.
- Phone and charger
- Water bottle
Contact BrokerLink to explore travel insurance options
While you cannot plan for the unexpected, you can minimize the risk you may encounter if your trip does not go according to plan. As part of your vacation planning, speak with one of our trusted travel insurance specialists to learn more about the convenient solutions available.
BrokerLink’s Insurance Advisors are available to give you expert, unbiased advice. They’re ready to help you find the perfect insurance for you’re your dream trip.
FAQs on our Travel Guide
Are my kids covered under my travel insurance policy?
Kids won’t automatically be covered under a travel insurance policy. You need to let your insurance broker know your kids are coming on vacation with you. You can purchase a travel insurance plan that covers your entire family.
What happens if my original trip duration is unexpectedly extended?
Your insurance will cover you only for the dates indicated. If your trip is extended, call or email your insurance broker right away. You may be able to extend your policy. If you cannot extend the policy, you can purchase a new travel insurance policy that will cover the rest of the trip.
Does travel insurance provide coverage for my pregnant wife?
If you or anyone else listed on the policy is pregnant, be sure to disclose that to your insurance broker. They will let you know if there are any restrictions or considerations for pregnancy.