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Planning a trip?

The joyful anticipation of planning a getaway can be hard to beat. You’ve picked a destination and now it’s time to book flights, hotels and attractions. However, in the flurry of excitement, don’t overlook an especially important element of your vacation plan – travel insurance.

No one wants to think about trouble, but an unexpected incident – a sudden illness or injury, or a cancelled flight – can interrupt or ruin your holiday. And you don’t want to lose money or pay additional expenses if things go wrong. This is where travel insurance comes in, giving you that extra peace of mind knowing that you’re protected against any number of unforeseen events.

Know what you’re getting – ahead of time

When it comes to travel insurance, there are many options to choose from to suit your situation. You can buy coverage for a single vacation or for multiple trips, and policies can include different types of benefits, such as emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, or a combination of both.

Understanding what is and isn’t covered before you finalize your plans is key to avoiding headaches and potential financial difficulties later on. The good news is that all travel insurance policies include descriptions of what they will and won’t cover. We’ve listed some of the most commonly included and excluded features to help you gain a full understanding of your individual plan before you take off.

Types of coverage

Emergency medical travel insurance protects you in the event of illness or injury during your trip. This is especially important since most provincial health plans offer little to no coverage outside of Canada.

This type of insurance generally covers costs for doctor and hospital bills, ambulance service, medicine, X-rays and lab work, up to the limits outlined in your policy. Depending on the plan you choose, you may also be covered for emergency dental treatment or other professional services, like a physiotherapist, chiropodist or osteopath. If you’re hospitalized abroad, some policies may cover expenses for extended hotel stays, extra meals, phone calls and child care, as well as the cost to bring someone to your bedside.

Medical evacuation travel insurance covers the expense of being taken to the closest health care facility, overseas or out of province, that’s equipped to treat you, and it also may pay for you to be flown back home if you need advanced medical attention. It may also cover the repatriation of a traveller’s remains to Canada.

Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance compensates you for costs due to unforeseen events that lead to cancellations, delays or interruptions before and during your trip. Such events may include:


  • A missed flight connection or travel delays due to bad weather or a mechanical issue
  • An unissued travel visa
  • An unexpected medical emergency or death
  • A travel advisory for your destination newly issued by the Canadian government
  • A cancelled business meeting


It’s a good idea to understand how much you will be reimbursed for non-refundable and non-transferable portions of your unused prepaid travel arrangements.


Baggage insurance can cover you if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged during a trip. Depending on your plan, you may be reimbursed for purchasing certain necessities to tide you over, such as clothes and toiletries. Some plans may also cover costs for replacing a lost or stolen passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate or travel visa. Again, it’s a good idea to understand how much compensation your plan will allow, as well as its limitations.

What’s not covered

Since travel insurance won’t cover every situation, it’s worthwhile knowing what’s excluded from your policy. A good rule of thumb: travel insurance is a safeguard against the unexpected. If something is within your control, then it likely won’t be covered, for example:


  • Participation in extreme or dangerous activities
  • Routine physicals and routine dental exams
  • Elective medical or dental procedures
  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Childbirth, or complications after the 31st week of pregnancy
  • You’ve simply changed your mind


Be aware of the notification periods outlined in your policy. Depending on the situation, you may have to notify your travel insurance provider immediately or within a specific period to ensure you are reimbursed.

Pre-existing medical conditions are a common exclusion in travel insurance policies. If you have an incident that’s related to a medical condition you already have or previously had, it’s not considered an unexpected event. However, some travel insurance plans will cover pre-existing conditions – see the sidebar for more information.

Bon voyage

Set off on your journey with confidence knowing you’re protected from the unexpected. If you aren’t sure which coverage to choose, your advisor can help you find the right travel insurance to meet your needs, so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation.


Yes, you can get travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition

A pre-existing medical condition is a medical condition that you knew about, and which existed, before your departure. Since travel insurance rates are calculated based on people being in relatively good health, you could risk receiving partial or no coverage if a medical issue occurs and you haven’t declared a pre-existing condition.

The good news is that there are travel insurance policies specifically designed for those who have or had a pre-existing medical condition. Some insurers have no restrictions other than a declaration of the condition, while others may require a stable period of health which can vary from 30 days to a year.

Speak to your advisor if you think a pre-existing medical condition could affect your trip. They can help you find travel insurance to meet your unique situation.


Sources: Travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions; Should you buy travel insurance and is it worth it?

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