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What Canadians Should Look for When Buying Travel Insurance

Stuck wondering what type of travel insurance works for you? Here’s a guide from one of our travel experts at Skyscanner Canada who outlines some of the best kinds of travel insurance for Canadians.

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Travel insurance is essential for Canadians. It’s something you should factor into your travel budget just as you would food and accommodations. Since Canadians are covered for medical costs at home, it’s easy to forget the need for coverage when travelling abroad.

But leaving home without insurance can result in exorbitant expenses in the event of unexpected troubles. We have outlined tips on travel insurance for Canadians in this guide below, such as what different types of insurance covers, how to make a travel insurance claim, how to extend your insurance when abroad, how to know what travel insurance is best for you!

A backpacker reads a map beside the train tracks.
Choosing the Right Travel Insurance | Skyscanner Canada

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a type of insurance that will cover the costs of sudden or unforeseeable events on your trip. This can range from small expenses, such as lost or delayed luggage, to more expensive services like hospitalization. Typically, travel insurance plans provide protection for health and medical needs, as well as trip cancellation or disruption costs.

What’s included with travel insurance?

Your travel insurer should provide you with a travel insurance certificate and a travel insurance policy. There can be northing more off-putting than a lengthy contract filled with jargon, legalese, and fine print. But it’s important to know that a travel insurance plan provides the right coverage. While all plans are different, they should include certain basics such as health, life, and disability coverage.

You should also verify that your plan has provisions for:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Flight cancellation, trip interruption, lost luggage, and document replacement
  • Medical evacuation
  • Reparation incase of death

Get extra perks with travel insurance

In addition to financial protection, many travel insurance providers also offer assistance services. These support experts can come in handy should you need to recover a lost or stolen passport, find a translator, or locate the nearest hospital, for example.

Where can you get travel insurance?

Travel insurance for Canadians can be obtained through a variety of providers. You can purchase insurance from your bank, credit card company, or an accredited or licensed insurance broker. In some cases, your employer may also offer access to travel insurance. Typically, companies require that you are a resident of Canada and that you are covered under a government health insurance plan. Don’t forget to ensure that your passport isn’t due for renewal.

A pile of Canadian travel insurance forms looks daunting.
Choosing the Right Travel Insurance | Skyscanner Canada

What is the best travel insurance?

Ultimately, the best travel insurance is the policy that best suits your unique travel needs. No dream vacation or trip should look exactly the same, and the same goes for travel insurance! Different companies can offer specific advantages depending on a variety of factors, including your trip duration to your province of origin. We’ve broken down the essential details for some of Canada’s travel insurance providers below. Take a look and see what’s right for you!

What does Allianz Canada insurance cover?

Maximum CoverageCoverage ExtensionsAssistance Availability
$5 millionYes24/7

Formerly known as Mondial Assistance, Allianz Global is a worldwide leader in travel insurance and offers comprehensive packages for Canadians. In addition to a 24/7 call line, Allianz Canada offers a TripWise app for added assistance on the go.

What does Blue Cross insurance cover?

Maximum CoverageCoverage ExtensionsAssistance Availability
$5 millionYes24/7

Blue Cross has been a trusted name in Canadian travel insurance for more than 70 years. How good is Blue Cross travel insurance? It’s popular enough that one in four Canadians choose it. As a part of its coverage, the company recently launched Serenity Service. For no extra cost, the service can provide a hotel room or lounge access if your flight is delayed for a certain amount of time.

What does CAA insurance cover?

Maximum CoverageCoverage ExtensionsAssistance Availability
$5 million Yes 24/7

The Canadian Automobile Association is a non-profit organization that offers roadside assistance, travel insurance, and other services. While membership is not required to purchase travel insurance, members do benefit from a 10% discount on CAA travel insurance. Like most providers, CAA packages vary by province, from BCAA (British Columbia Automobile Association) to CAA Atlantic.

What does Manulife: CoverMe insurance cover?

Maximum CoverageCoverage ExtensionsAssistance Availability
$10 millionYes 24/7

Manulife CoverMe travel insurance offers a variety of plans for Canadian residents to choose from. Plans include family coverage for up to three generations (under the age of 60) and student coverage (up to 39 years old).

What does World Nomads insurance cover?

Maximum CoverageCoverage ExtensionsAssistance Availability
$10 million Yes 24/7

World Nomads travel insurance was endorsed by Lonely Planet and is a popular choice for backpackers, solo travellers and budget-travellers. The company provides coverage for more than 200 adventure activities, and the Explorer Package offers up to $10 million in medical insurance.

How to choose travel insurance

It can be daunting to find the right travel insurance plan for you. Since every traveller and every trip differs, coverage needs can vary as well. Every traveller has specific needs and requirements, whether you’re travelling while pregnant, travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, or carrying expensive items in your baggage.

For many, travel also means adventure. It can be an opportunity to try new things and push your boundaries. From scuba diving to snowboarding, zip-lining to whitewater rafting, there are so many activities that thrill-seekers can try while abroad. But this does come with a degree of added risk, which makes it important to consider your planned activities and adventures on the road when choosing the right insurance plan for you.

Many companies include specific clauses for high-risk activities, and it’s important to read the fine print. For example, some insurance companies will cover trekking, but only to an altitude of 3,000 metres. Travellers that plan to hike to a higher elevation should make sure their policy covers them. And they should prepare to pay a little more. Remember, if it’s a dangerous activity, it’s all the more important to ensure you’re protected.

There are also packages tailored for different types of holidays. For instance, several insurance companies now offer packages for destination weddings or gap years. There’s even snowbird travel insurance for Canadians.

When selecting a provider, ultimately your best bet is to talk to an agent and share as many details about your trip as possible.

How to extend travel insurance when you are already abroad

While some trips may be carefully planned, other travel plans can be open-ended. Not all companies allow you to extend your insurance policy after you’ve left the country. If you aren’t yet sure of your trip’s length, you should opt for an insurer that will allow you to extend your policy while abroad. Don’t worry, it’s possible!

A few things to keep in mind for coverage extensions:

  • It’s best to let your provider know as soon as you plan to extend your trip. If you call after your insurance period ends, coverage extensions may be refused.
  • Insurers may deny extension requests if you’ve already made a claim on your current policy.
  • Insurance companies can also require you obtain an extension for your provincial health insurance plan.

Do you need insurance to travel to the U.S.?

Yes. It may not feel necessary for a jaunt across the border, but even domestic travel requires insurance. As the Government of Canada warns: “A simple day-trip to the United States without insurance could end up being very costly.”

How to make a travel insurance claim

Before setting out on a trip, make sure to ask your insurer what they require for a claim. Here are a few best practices you should know before you go:

  • Carry details of your insurance policy with you. Tell your travel companion and/or someone at home how to contact your provider.
  • If you need medical attention, contact your insurer as soon as possible.
  • Scan and safeguard receipts and paperwork from any unexpected costs incurred on your trip.
  • If an airline loses your luggage, report to the airline and your insurer right away. Be sure to read the airline’s baggage rules, too.
  • In the event of theft, make sure to report it to the local police within 24 hours. This is good practice if you are victim to any type of crime. If you ever feel unsafe, it can’t hurt to contact your local Canadian Embassy or Consulate.

Travel insurance for Canadians: The takeaway

Travel insurance is not a glamourous cost to incur, and you might never need to use it. All the same, it is something that you shouldn’t travel without. One of the great joys travel brings is spontaneity, but that can manifest in unpleasant surprises too, so it’s best to be prepared. Before purchasing the insurance, get informed on exactly what you need for your specific trip. It’s likely you’ll thank yourself!