Even though travel insurance is something you've likely heard of, you may not entirely be clear about what it is or how it works.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance, in a nutshell, is a suite of insurance products that provide coverage for travel-related expenses in the event that something unexpectedly goes wrong. The term itself, travel insurance, is often used to describe one or more specific types of coverages like:
- Emergency medical
- Baggage (loss, delay etc.)
- Trip Cancellation/interruption
- Accident death and dismemberment
Travel insurance policies come with a variety of options giving you the opportunity to purchase only the coverage you need.
What does a good travel insurance policy include?
A good travel insurance policy is one that covers you for what you need, and doesn't charge you for coverages you don't. When identifying the best travel insurance policy for yourself and family look at the policy details like:
- What's covered?
- Who is covered?
- Does it cover pre-existing medical conditions?
- What's the policy maximum?
- What's not included?
- Is there a deductible?
- Does the provider have an in-house, worldwide, 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number?
Remember too, that travel insurance plans are intended for sudden, unforeseen circumstances-something unexpected or an emergency. A routine check-up and cosmetic surgery, for example, are rarely-if ever-covered.
What types of plans are there?
Depending on the coverage you need, there are specialized plans which offer a range of benefits, such as all-inclusive plans, multi-trip coverage and top up travel insurance.
Your typical all inclusive travel insurance plan gives you the benefits of bundling all of the coverages you may want-emergency medical, baggage, trip cancellation insurance-into one policy, often for a cheaper travel insurance rate.
A standard multi-trip plan is particularly useful if you travel frequently. It provides emergency medical coverage for trips taken over the course of a year; and depending on how many times you travel often costs less than if you were to buy a policy each time separately.
Those who already have travel insurance may also want to consider top-up plans. Top-up travel insurance is a policy purchased by travellers who already have coverage (whether it's through a work policy or credit card), but do not have the coverage they need for the entire length of time they will be away. Top up travel insurance ensures you have coverage for the entire time you are travelling out of the country (Canada).
Is a travel insurance policy really necessary?
Absolutely. Everyone, at minimum, should have emergency medical travel insurance before leaving the country. According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, all Canadians should purchase a policy if they plan to go abroad, even if only for a day. Accidents can happen at any time and without the proper coverage, you may return home with significant medical bills.
- "Do not rely on your provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad. Out-of-country health care can be costly, and your health plan may not cover any medical expenses abroad." Source: Foreign Affairs, Bon Voyage But...Essential Information for Canadian Travellers
- "Canadians who plan to go abroad - even on a day trip to the United States - should purchase the best travel insurance they can afford in order to avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization or medical treatment outside of Canada. Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada." Source: Foreign Affairs, Travel insurance FAQs
One last thing, don't forget, compare travel insurance quotes before you travel to ensure the best coverage at the best price.