What Are Your 6 Top Factors For Choosing Travel Medical Insurance?

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Canadians trust their travel medical insurance to offer financial recovery for medical expenses that are incurred because of accidents and illnesses while they are away. But how do they choose it?

In 2018, the Canadian Association of Financial Institutions (CAFII) surveyed over 1,200 travel medical insurance buyers, asking what factors affected their choice of travel medical insurance. Here are the findings.

Factor #1: Features and benefits

Topping the poll with over 87% of the vote are the features and benefits of a travel medical insurance policy.  The options are wide ranging – so purchasing a plan that fits your needs is important.

Consider these factors:

  • Can you receive reimbursement for the total amount of money that you spend on medical treatment?
  • Will the insurer make advance payments to medical facilities or for medical transportation if you or someone in your family is injured?
  • Are emergency dental costs covered?
  • Does the policy cover medical evacuation, so you do not have to pay medical emergency transportation expenses with your own money?
  • Are there travel accident benefits to help take care of you or your family if you are seriously injured or killed while travelling?
  • Will emergency travel assistance services help you locate a local an appropriate medical facility to care for your medical needs and those of your family?

Factor #2: Overall amount of coverage

Smart consumers know that making sure your travel insurance is adequate is vital. You never want to find yourself sitting in a hospital emergency room in another country wishing you had more travel insurance.  Both the dollar amount of coverage you select and the duration are important.


Medical treatment is very costly in some countries, and those who sustain serious injuries may have to pay medical bills that amount to tens of thousands of dollars so check the dollar amount of the policy’s overall maximums.

There are different durations for travel medical plans:

  • Single trip travel medical (the most commonly purchased) – this is coverage for a single trip lasting up to six months. It covers you for the duration of the vacation. If you are extending your trip, don’t forget to contact your insurer to extend coverage, provided there has been no claim and no event has occurred that would give rise to a claim under the insurance.
  • Multi-trip travel medical – this coverage is for multiple trips over a 12-month period, from short, 4-day jaunts to 30-day adventures. Plan on going over the coverage period? Contact your insurer before you leave to add on extra days of coverage.

Factor #3: Ability to speak to someone

Over 80% of Canadians choosing travel medical insurance want to be able to speak to someone when selecting coverage. That’s why if you need help, SBIS customer service agents are standing by, waiting to answer your call.

Factor #4: Price

For many of us, travel is a luxury that requires lots of forethought and careful planning. The desire to save on expenses is easy to understand, but a momentary lapse in judgement, like choosing to go without travel insurance, can lead to very expensive consequences.

It’s important to remember that since travel medical insurance does not provide trip cancellation, interruption or baggage loss coverage, the cost of the plan is often quite economical. To get the best rate on travel insurance, particularly when you have past medical history to take into account, it’s best to start shopping around early.

In general, the premium for a travel medical plan is based on

  • the length of the trip
  • the age of the traveller
  • the medical history of the traveller (if over 60)

Like to travel frequently and want to save a little money? Annual multi-trip travel insurance can give you better bang for your buck than insuring each trip.

Factor #5: Ease of purchase

Working with SBIS as your insurance broker can save you time and money. We make it easy to apply, compare features,  benefits and rates, so you can relax knowing you’ve made the right choice (and if you are a frequent traveller, buying travel insurance once with a multi-trip plan instead of buying single trip plans multiple times a year is also an easy way to do things!)

Factor #6:  Coverage for pre-existing conditions

When you have a pre-existing condition travel medical insurance is more expensive than it is for those who do not. You know what else is expensive? Paying out of pocket for medical care when you are far away from home, and you have very little leverage to negotiate.

You have to be upfront about your medical history when applying for coverage. It may be tempting to fudge a little on the details, but omitting informationon your application form will effectively void your policy. If you wonder whether the details of a prior accident or illness are important enough to disclose, then always err on the side of caution.

Let us help you choose

Canadians continue to raise the bar on what they expect from their travel medical insurance policies in terms of product features, quality, service and value, and rightly so.  At SBIS we work every day to continue to raise the bar too, by providing you with insights, information and service to help you make the right insurance choices. The answers to all your questions about travel insurance are just a phone call away.


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