Car insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, house insurance – insurance! It’s that thing you know you need but don’t want to think about, let alone spend money on. When it’s vacation time, the last thing you want to think about is more insurance, but if you don’t think about it, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars.

What is Medical Travel Insurance?

This is different from insurance that covers trip interruption, cancellation, or lost luggage. This insurance helps you financially in case of a medical incident while on vacation.

Who Needs Travel Insurance

You do. If you are driving two hours to a cabin for the weekend and you are not crossing any provincial lines, you will be covered by your regular health, provincial, and disability insurance. If you are flying within or without Canada, going out of province, driving long distances, or going on an extended vacation, you need travel insurance. Medical care, especially in the States, is expensive, and your Alberta Health Care doesn’t cover you in other provinces.

Travel Insurance


Why Should I Spend Extra on Insurance? Vacations are Expensive Enough.

Insurance protects you financially from the unexpected: an ambulance trip to the hospital thanks to an allergic food or insect reaction, a near-drowning at a resort, falling ill and needing medication, a nasty spill where you bump your head, need I go on? Don’t think it can’t happen to you, as evidenced by countless horror stories and advice columnist online, 13medical care while travelling is more common than you think.

But I Know Someone That had Insurance and it Didn’t Pay Out!

Everyone knows someone with an insurance horror story. The payouts on insurance are thousands of dollars so to ensure the claims that have merit get paid, the carrier must be very careful to scrutinize every aspect of the application and check to see that the claims procedure was followed to the letter. This makes them seem like the bad guys, but it’s a necessary process to ensure enough money stays in the pot for payouts.

Travel Insurance


To increase your chances of a successful claim, do the following:

  • DON’T rely on any automatic travel insurance that comes with your credit or loyalty card. Those claims are easy to deny because they are underwritten retroactively. For example, if you had a heart condition last year, that could count against you. DO go for an underwritten travel insurance policy that asks about your health, previous health conditions, where you plan to travel, and how long you will be there. The more questions on the application, the better. (Group coverage through your workplace is an exception as the “application” is the general makeup of your work group.)


  • DON’T lie on the application – ever. Lies are immediate grounds for dismissing your claim – a claim that will be investigated thoroughly.


  • DO read the fine print. Many policies have a specific number you must call if an emergency arises. Failing to follow the exact directions in the policy could automatically invalidate your claim. Read it carefully and keep the important numbers or instructions on your person. Many policies have a punch out card or download you can carry with you.


  • DO claim as quickly as possible. Every policy has a claim window. In the heat of an emergency and its aftermath, it’s easy to miss that window.

How do I get Travel Insurance?

An insurance broker works with several carriers; they can compare rates and get you the best policy for your needs. They know which companies are more likely to honour claims, and they can explain the fine print to you in detail.

An insurance agent works only with one company (such as Manulife, Sun Life, BMO, etc.) If you like one particular insurance company, contact one of their agents.

Have health benefits through work? Check to see if travel is covered. If so, read the fine print carefully so you know what is covered and what is required if you need to use it.

Many carriers have excellent online sites where you can do an application in minutes, pay online and obtain a policy.

Spend the Time and Money. It’s Worth it.

Don’t let your family vacation become a nightmare of debt and financial stress due to an unexpected medical incident. Travel insurance is very cheap, easy to get, and can save both your money and your sanity.