Top 10 travel insurance questions answered, you didn't know to ask - but should!

So you're heading out on holiday! You've probably read somewhere, or been told, to buy travel medical insurance-"just in case." While every emergency medical travel insurance policy varies, we wanted to help you by providing answers to questions you might not know to ask-but are important to know! So, without further adieu, let unveil the birth of a new acronym, the FNAQ, for 'Frequently Never Asked Questions'. Here is's first ever top 10 Travel Medical Insurance FNAQ's list.

Top 10 Travel Medical Insurance FNAQ's

  1. FNAQ: What is supplementary travel medical coverage? Answer: Travel medical insurance will reimburse you all, or a portion, of the expenses you incur during a medical emergency (it will depend on the amount of coverage you buy.) It will kick in the money that is needed over and above what your provincial health insurance plan will cover, while travelling outside Canada. Supplementary travel insurance varies greatly from company to company but can include coverage for such things as:

    • Emergency dental care
    • Medical evacuation services such as an ambulance or air ambulance
    • Medical devices like casts, canes, slings, trusses, walkers, wheelchair rental, splints, etc...
    • Licensed doctors' fees
    • Outpatient assistance
    • Incidental expenses incurred while in the hospital
    • Hospital room accommodation
    Note: Check to see if your supplementary travel medical insurance comes with deductible or co-payment clauses. A deductible means that you pay the first $250, for example. A co-payment clause could mean that you pay the first 20% of the expense.
  2. FNAQ: Is my travel medical insurance affected if I leave early to go on my vacation, or leave late to come home? Answer: Yes, in both instances you will not be covered. But good news! Usually, all you have to do is make a simple call to your travel insurance company before you do either to start your coverage early or extend it which will ensure that you are covered. Why is this so important? Statistics suggest that the highest incidences of claims occur at the beginning and ends of trips. This means that if you don't call and make sure you are covered, you won't have coverage during the very times when you need it the most! So do call your travel insurance company should you have a change in plans.
  3. FNAQ: If I spend my winters in Florida, can I rely on my provincial travel medical insurance to cover me? Answer: It's not advisable. Provincial government health insurance plans will usually cover emergency care but only for as much as that service would have cost in your home province. As a result, you are responsible for the difference in cost. And the difference between the actual cost of out-of-country emergency services and the amount you're covered through your province's health insurance can be significant. Also, keep in mind that most provinces have a minimum number of days that you must reside in the province each year to maintain eligibility for coverage under their Health Insurance Plan. Keep this in mind when you are planning your winter escape.
  4. FNAQ: I have travel medical insurance coverage through my credit card so that will be enough, right? Answer: Maybe and maybe not. Read all of the information that comes with your credit card's health coverage. You might be surprised to find out that if you only go with your credit card coverage, you could leave yourself open to major medical bills. Watch for the information about:

    • Eligibility requirements, including any restrictions.
    • Coverage limitations, specifically the maximum they'll pay.
    • How many travel days per year you are allowed.
    • Trip length limitations on individual trips.
    • Don't forget you might have to pay for your trip with the credit card in order to even be covered by that card's insurance offering.
  5. FNAQ: Can I buy travel medical insurance after I have left for my vacation? Answer: Unlikely. Most Canadian travel insurance providers will not sell you travel insurance while already on holiday. Make sure you get it before you leave!
  6. FNAQ: Will I still be covered if I decide to travel outside the country I originally said I was going to vacation in when applying for my emergency medical travel insurance? Answer: The travel insurance policy you purchased will not provide you with coverage should you decide to visit another country, other than the one(s) you've specified when buying your policy. Some companies will extend coverage to new destinations, if notified, but it will cost you extra.
  7. FNAQ: If I didn't purchase trip cancellation as part of my travel medical insurance policy and I decide to hop on a flight from my primary destination country to a new destination country, can I call my insurance provider and purchase trip cancellation for my new trip? Answer: No. Unless you tell your travel insurance provider before you leave, most companies will not cover you for any additional flight departures.
  8. FNAQ: Can I get treatment from anyone, for anything, during an emergency and be covered by my travel medical insurance? Answer: No. When you buy your coverage, your travel insurance provider will give you instructions on how to get treatment along with a toll-free number to their service centre. It is the role of this centre to help you manage your medical needs. The centre will have a list of preferred hospitals and physicians and will give you a referral. Even with this, you should get authorization for medical care or treatments proposed to you. This is because your insurance company may not recognize and cover you for some medical, laboratory and diagnostic procedures they deem not needed in your particular "emergency". If in doubt, call (or have someone trusted call) the toll-free number and check with them first before you get the procedure done. Make sure you get detailed receipts for all the work you get done.
  9. FNAQ: What is NOT covered by my travel medical insurance? Answer: Every policy is different, which is why you should read it over carefully. In general, an emergency due to a pre-existing condition is not covered. A pre-existing condition is one that has been diagnosed by a licensed physician (the length of time since diagnosis varies by company), the medical condition has not been stable prior to leaving for holiday, or you started taking medication or began treatment for the condition recently (again length of time prior to departure varies by company.) Note: Luckily, there are some travel insurance companies that will offer coverage for emergencies that arise due to a pre-existing condition-but only if they know about your pre-existing condition beforehand. When applying for coverage, you will be asked about any pre-existing conditions for which you will then have to answer a full medical questionnaire. Along with pre-existing conditions, there are other instances that are typically excluded from your policy's coverage including: self-inflicted injuries; pregnancy, childbirth or complications from either; participation in contact sports or risky activities such as scuba diving; drug or alcohol abuse; involvement in criminal activities; acts of war; or simply travel to countries where a notice has been issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs advising Canadians not to travel to this country, region or city. Finally, non-emergencies-like routine health care, elective surgery or investigative or diagnostic services-will not typically be covered by your travel medical insurance policy.
  10. FNAQ: What can I do if I have a dispute with my travel medical insurance provider? Answer: Thankfully, you can take your concerns and complaints of Canadian travel insurance providers to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService (CLHIO). The CLHIO was incorporated as a separate and independent entity from the industry association.

Ready, set, shop!

Now that you've got the answers to our "Frequently Never Asked Questions" about travel medical insurance, you're ready to shop for your coverage. Compare travel insurance quotes today from top Canadian travel insurance companies. At, you can get quotes from competing travel insurance companies, so you save money while getting the coverage you want -- and need!

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