Best Travel Insurance in Canada
People in Canada travel for a variety of reasons. To vacation, gain new perspectives, live in a new place, start a new job, visit family and friends, among several other reasons. No matter the reason, travelling is common amongst people of all ages, interests, and economic statuses.
Despite the fun, free-spirited, vacation-mindset many adopt when travelling, it’s important to remember that travel poses some risks. For example, an airline might cancel your flight at the last-minute meaning you could be set back by a few hundred or even thousand dollars. Or you might lose valuables stored in your checked luggage.
Moreover, being in a new country means you are not as acquainted with your surroundings. The exciting, yet uncertain, nature of travelling brings on more risk -- you could fall down and hurt yourself exploring a trail or get hit by a car on a bustling street. If you get sick or injured while travelling, you could be on the hook for exorbitant medical costs.
For all these reasons, travel insurance exists. Let’s explore what travel insurance coverage provides and optimal Canadian providers below.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance offers protection against financial loss from travel related incidents, either domestically or abroad. You can often find an option to purchase travel insurance as an add-on to your flight ticket or other travel-based purchases. Alternatively, you can reach out to a travel insurance provider to protect yourself from foreseen risks.
What does travel insurance cover?
There are many categories for coverage within a travel insurance plan, including medical expenses, trip interruptions or cancellations, lost or stolen belongings, and much more.
Ultimately, risk related to travel is infinite. You never know what will happen until it happens. While there is standard insurance coverage that you can consider, you may want specialized coverage too. You will need to work alongside a travel insurance specialist to obtain this kind of coverage.
For now, let’s consider the standard travel insurance coverage below.
Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you for money you’ve spent on prepaid or other non-refundable travel. Not all reasons for cancellation are covered; however, some commonly covered reasons include illness, hospitalization of a loved one, jury duty summons, and business conflicts. Be sure to read the fine print of your policy so you know what’s covered. Keep in mind that some airline tickets or other travel purchases are refundable, so you don’t need trip cancellation coverage in that case.
Trip interruption coverage
Similar to trip cancellation coverage, trip interruption reimburses you if you need to shorten or adjust your trip at the last minute. Oftentimes, this kind of travel insurance coverage helps you pay for a last-minute flight home.
This coverage reimburses you if your belongings, including luggage, are lost, stolen or damaged while you travel. Although many airlines reimburse travelers for lost luggage on the flight, there might be limitations to that reimbursement. For example, if your luggage contained an awfully expensive camera or a wad of cash, that may not be reimbursed. On the other hand, baggage coverage helps you recoup the full value of your loss.
Medical coverage offers financial support in the event that you need medical attention during your travels. If you have a health insurance plan, you may think it covers travels abroad, but this isn’t always the case. Many health insurance plans don’t insure costs to locate a doctor, foreign hospital stays, foreign language services or air travel to medical attention. Be sure to check what your existing health insurance plan covers first before getting additional travel coverage.
It’s important to note that the level of coverage differs with each travel insurance provider. Additionally, there may be limitations. For example, if you participate in extreme sports like bungee jumping and need medical attention upon an accident, your insurance provider might not cover you. Or, you might not receive as much coverage if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Accidents resulting in death or serious injury to a traveler, or their accompanying family member, is eligible for benefit pay to beneficiaries with accidental death and flight accident coverage. Though there are some exclusions, such as death by overdose or sickness, this type of coverage is meant for death resulting from a plane crashing, or from other similar accidents.
Some people may already have life insurance that would offer coverage in these scenarios; however, accidental death coverage from travel insurance might offer additional support to beneficiaries.
Popular travel insurance providers in Canada
Here are some popular travel insurance providers that offer coverage to Canadian travelers:
An international provider, World Nomads offers coverage to travelers all over the world. Two unique attributes of World Nomads’ travel insurance are:
- You can purchase tailored insurance depending on the country you live in. For example, someone in the USA can purchase a policy that protects against hate crimes, if he is visiting a country specifically hostile to Americans.
- You can purchase insurance that covers a variety of sports, including scuba diving, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and skiing. This is great for adventurers, and unique because some insurance providers might have limitations to coverage if the incident is related to extreme sports.
World Nomads also boasts high insurance coverage values, such as the Explorer Plan’s $10-million cap for emergency medical insurance. A possible disadvantage to the World Nomad travel insurance is its limitations to some coverage in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More commonly known for auto insurance and roadside assistance, CAA also offers travel insurance. These are the main characteristics of their coverage:
- 24-hour assistance meaning you can call them anytime for information and support
- Insurance for both CAA members and non-members
- Coverage for yourself, your family, and your pets
- Flexible top-up options to customize your coverage
A insurance and financial titan, Manulife has been offering investment, bank account, home and life insurance for decades. They also offer travel insurance, with different plans for Canadians, visitors to Canada, and students.
Manulife offers a wide range of plans and add-ons, with a $10-million cap for medical expenses and a unique plan for travelers pursuing education. Most notable is their new COVID-19 Pandemic Travel Plan covering $1 million for coronavirus related incidents while travelling. This includes trip interruption coverage, which is a highly desirable add-on during pandemic times.
A possible disadvantage to the Manulife travel insurance is that the standard plan only includes medical coverage. Everything else, including trip cancellation, belongings, and accidental death insurance, are all extra add-ons which come with a higher price. Make sure you get quotes for various packages to see how much your travel insurance needs will cost.
Scotiabank offers many financial services like bank accounts, mortgages, and investments in addition to travel insurance. Scotiabank’s travel insurance is generally all-encompassing. Their standard plan packs medical coverage, trip cancellation, and personal belongings OR accident insurance into one holistic package. While many plans offer these coverages as add-ons, Scotiabank has a combo policy that packages them all together.
Additionally, if you’re travelling within Canada, they offer insurance policies at a 50% discount. Keep in mind that if you have a credit card with Scotiabank, it may include some level of travel insurance already.
Similar to Scotiabank, RBC Insurance also offers packaged coverage in one travel insurance policy. They differ in the sense that RBC offers more package options to help you find something that fits your needs best. They offer specialized packages for:
- Mature travelers
- Deluxe travelers
- Within-Canada travelers
- Travelers that don’t need medical coverage
TD offers travel insurance tailored to the traveler’s style. More specifically, you can choose between a single trip plan or an annual plan. As the name implies, the first type covers a single trip. The second type covers Canadians who frequently travel. TD also offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage if you want a simpler travel insurance plan.
What Travel Insurance is Right for Me?
The good thing about travel insurance is that there are many options. This helps you weed out the packages that don’t suit you and helps you find customizable plans that better fit your needs. Consider your trip plans before selecting a travel insurance policy by asking yourself some basic questions:
- How long will you be travelling?
- Are your plans set in stone?
- What activities will you be doing?
- Are you in a country with any known dangers?
- Are you travelling alone or with others?
- Do you have dependents?
If you’re still uncertain of the right plan for you, talk to an insurance advisor. Each company offers support to their clients when picking the right policy. Travelling is a fun and enriching experience - keep it that way by feeling secure and protected throughout your whole trip!