January 22, 2024
When you leave your province, territory, or Canada – even for just a short time – it’s a sound idea to consider getting travel medical insurance.
Travel medical insurance specifically covers medical expenses you may have while you are travelling outside Canada or your home province or territory. Medical insurance for travel can include doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical treatment.
Once you are outside your province or territory, you may no longer have the same coverage as you did at home.
What’s the difference between travel insurance and travel medical insurance?
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is has a broad range of coverages that can help protect you against:
Baggage insurance is usually an add-on optional coverage.
Travel insurance can also cover transportation costs to the nearest appropriate hospital and the cost of bringing you back home.
It’s important to note that in some cases, you may be required to pay up-front for medical treatment, then seek reimbursement from your travel insurance provider for those expenses. Be sure to get itemized receipts for any medical treatment and/or medication, along with detailed medical records of diagnosis, treatment, tests, and results.
What is travel medical insurance? (Also called travel health insurance or medical insurance for travel)
Medical insurance for travel specifically covers medical expenses, while travel insurance covers a wider range of issues and also includes medical expenses.
Travel medical insurance covers unexpected emergency health care costs when you are travelling – such as treatment by a doctor, hospital stays, diagnostic tests and, in some cases, prescription drugs. It can also cover emergency medical evacuations.
Again, you may be asked to pay up front for your treatment and be reimbursed later.
Medical travel insurance may be a good option if you’re traveling internationally and are concerned about medical expenses. Travel insurance, though, gives you more comprehensive coverage, including non-medical issues.
Most provincial health plans offer limited coverage for medical emergencies when you are outside Canada. Transportation costs or repatriation to Canada aren’t usually covered by provincial health insurance.
The government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.
What’s all-inclusive travel insurance?
Depending on the insurer, an all-inclusive plan could include emergency travel medical coverage, trip cancellation and interruption and more for multiple covered trips up to the maximum trip duration selected within one year.
The Government of Canada recommends buying travel health insurance before you leave.
When you're injured abroad and have travel insurance, here's how the process generally works:
Seek medical attention: If you are injured or fall ill while traveling abroad, seek immediate medical attention at a hospital or clinic. Keep copies of all medical records, bills, and receipts.
Contact your insurance provider: Notify your travel insurance provider as soon as possible. Most insurers offer a 24/7 helpline or assistance service for emergencies. Provide them with necessary details such as your policy number, location, nature of the injury, and medical facility details.
Medical evaluation and treatment: Depending on the severity of your condition, your insurance provider might arrange for a medical evaluation by a local healthcare professional to assess the situation and provide guidance on treatment.
Covered expenses: If your injury is covered by your travel insurance policy, the insurer typically reimburses or directly pays for eligible medical expenses but check your policy. This includes hospitalization, doctor's fees, medications, surgeries, and emergency transportation (if medically necessary).
Claims process: Submit a claim to your insurance provider along with all necessary documents (medical reports, receipts, and bills) to request reimbursement for covered expenses. Follow their guidelines on how to file the claim accurately and within the specified time limit.
Assistance and support: Some insurance companies offer additional support services, such as arranging transportation back home once you're stable or helping with language barriers and coordinating medical care.
Follow-up care: In case of a severe injury requiring ongoing treatment or follow-up care, your travel insurance might cover these expenses, including repatriation if necessary.
If you get injured abroad and do not have travel insurance, it can result in significant financial, legal, and logistical challenges.
Financial burden: Without travel insurance, you'll likely be responsible for covering all medical expenses out of pocket. These costs can escalate quickly, especially if hospitalization, surgeries, or specialized treatments are required.
Limited medical care: Some countries may require upfront payment for medical services, and the quality of care may vary, impacting the treatment you receive.
Legal and administrative issues: Depending on the severity of the injury, you might encounter legal or administrative challenges, especially if the injury involves liability issues or requires extended medical care or repatriation.
Difficulty in repatriation: If your injury is severe and requires transportation back to your home country for further treatment, arranging and covering the costs of repatriation can be challenging without insurance.
Added stress: Dealing with a medical emergency abroad without insurance can be extremely stressful, both for the injured person and their family or companions, who may also face financial strain.
Regular checkups or follow-up visits: Travel Insurance will cover you for any unexpected illness or injury. Regular checkups or follow-up visits are usually not covered by travel medical insurance. You should always get pre-approval for any follow-up visits to avoid having your claim denied, in some cases depending on the illness or injury they might approve the follow-up.
Medication refills: While medication for an illness or injury suffered while travelling will be covered, any required medication needed prior to your trip, if you lose or run out of your medication while travelling, won’t cover you for refills.
Cash payments for expenses with no receipts: You should get receipts for all expenses in order for you to be reimbursed. You won’t be reimbursed if you don’t have receipts.
Vision care / glasses: Regular eye exams, contact lenses, glasses and other similar expenses are not covered by travel medical insurance.
It's highly recommended to always have comprehensive travel insurance before traveling abroad to mitigate these risks and ensure financial protection and access to quality medical care in case of an unexpected injury or illness while overseas.