Do I need travel insurance for trips within Canada?

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Planning to run the risk of incurring medical expenses instead of buying travel insurance when you travel out of province in Canada this year? Better think again.

Are you one of the many Canadians who loves to explore everything our country has to offer? Whether it’s a ski trip out west, whale watching in the Atlantic, or a weekend getaway in northern Ontario, if your travels are going to take you outside of your home province, it’s time to think about travel insurance.

We’ve heard it before: “I don’t need travel insurance in my own country. I’m Canadian and covered under my provincial health plan.” While you may be aware of how important insurance can be for trips outside the country, you’d be surprised at how risky it can be for your budget to travel without insurance in Canada. Here’s what you should know.

Here is what you are covered for when travelling in Canada

Your provincial health insurance does travel with you from province to province. In the event of an unforeseen sickness or injury during your trip, showing your provincial health card will let you visit a physician or hospital.

Here is what isn’t covered

Your provincial coverage will only pay for some—not all—of the unexpected medical expenses you incur outside your province. Check your province’s website. You will find that your provincial government health plan recommends additional travel insurance for out-of-province expenses they don’t cover.

Remember, fees that aren’t covered in your province won’t be covered when you’re travelling outside the province, either. And the amount of coverage you’d get in your home province may not be enough to cover the same medical service that you need while in another province or territory. If that’s the case (and you don’t have travel insurance), you’ll be stuck paying the difference.

Here are just of few of the fees you may need to pay out of pocket:

Medical Transportation

Medical transportation to a hospital located in your home province is not fully covered by your provincial health plan. And in provinces like Ontario, where ambulance costs are subsidized within the province, that subsidy does not apply out of province.

Air evacuations are not covered, and neither is the cost of bringing you back home by ground or air. That means that if you need to go home to take advantage of a service or drug that is not available in the province you are visiting, flying home via air ambulance could cost you thousands of dollars.

Hospitalization Costs

If you land in the hospital while in another province, you will have to pay out of pocket for private or semi-private hospital room costs, X-rays or other medical imaging services, rental of crutches or TV in your hospital room. This may not be a major issue if your medical bill is a couple hundred dollars. But what happens if it comes to a total you can’t afford?

Prescription Drug and Dental Care Costs

Not all provinces and territories cover the same prescription medications, and some rare drugs may not even be available in certain provinces. While the former could mean needing to dip into your savings, the latter could be life or death.

Services provided by a healthcare professional other than a doctor are not covered. Something as simple as a dental emergency can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in costs you will have to pay.

Non-Medical Travel Expenses

What if your pre-booked, non-refundable, expensive trip across the country is called off unexpectedly? Are you willing to chalk up those lost dollars to bad luck?

Here is how Travel Insurance reduces your risk

Travel insurance can provide emergency medical coverage up to $10 million for:

  • Hospital and physician services
  • Paramedical services
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • Preparation and return of remains
  • Emergency air transportation home
  • Visit to bedside if travelling alone
  • Return of children in the care of the insured
  • Return of travel companion
  • Additional meals and hotel
  • Return home of vehicle
  • Hospital allowance
  • Child care
  • Return of excess baggage
  • Phone call expenses
  • Pet return

With all-inclusive coverage, you are covered for the above and:

  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for unexpected medical emergency or death of the insured or the insured’s travel companion, or immediate  family member.
  • Baggage loss, damage, and delay, including replacement of a lost or stolen passport or driver’s license
  • Flight Accident and Travel Accident causing death or dismemberment.

Travel insurance also helps by coordinating payment directly with a medical facility—and you won’t have to worry about weeks (or months!) of financial stress before being reimbursed by your provincial government.

With travel insurance, you have 24/7 emergency assistance. When you’re away from home and something unexpected happens, your comforting, friendly emergency assistance team is available to answer your call for help.

Be careful if you are depending on your employer or credit card travel coverage

Watch the fine print in your group benefits and credit card insurance plans. If you have health coverage through your employer or credit card, you might be OK—but you should check the fine print on those plans prior to travel to make sure that’s really the case.

Call your group insurance provider before a trip to ensure you have all the coverage you are going to need. When it comes to credit cards, the first thing you should check is that they actually cover out-of-province domestic trips, as some may only apply to international travel.

Things to consider if you are travelling for work or school

Emergency/immediate medical care required unexpectedly while travelling, working or attending school outside of Ontario but within Canada is likely covered by your provincial health plan. (Check your province’s website if you’re outside Ontario.) There may also be coverage for non-emergency planned medical care if it’s requested by either a licensed or practicing physician in your home province, or the one who will be providing the services in another province or territory. Your province may require that certain insured services be approved prior to the services being provided.

If you are planning to work in a different province, carefully explore how your province’s health plan will work, and look at your travel insurance options with us, too. We have travel insurance for all travellers, allowing you to travel worry free, knowing you are covered should you require medical assistance during your trip.

Travelling in Canada? Give us a call.

Make sure your out-of-province trip doesn’t put your pocketbook at risk. With affordable travel insurance in place, you won’t have to worry about a costly medical bill if you require medical attention outside your home province.

SBIS offers affordable plans specifically for travel within Canada. And if you travel out of province often, there are some multi-trip plans that automatically include coverage for unlimited travel (during a one-year period) throughout Canada. Go online or give us a call today to find out more.


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