If You’re Planning A Trip In Canada This Year, Travel Insurance Might Be The First Thing You Should Pack

Woman packing suitcase for summer trip, including face masks and travel-size antibacterial hand gels

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, travel and tourism ground almost to a halt as people hunkered down during lockdowns. Tourism is a key sector of Canada’s economy and in 2019, before the pandemic hit, Canadians spent more than $45-billion during their domestic travels, according to Statistics Canada. At the start of 2020, tourism expanded but then dramatically fell by 81.2% in April, compared with the same month the year before.

But now, as many of us emerge from lockdowns, some people are eagerly looking to travel again. One impulse might be to stay in Canada, as opposed to venturing aboard. Walk before we run, right?

Travel insurance has become a timely issue but having the right travel insurance for you and your family is important.

“The pandemic has definitely brought the need for travel insurance to the forefront of people’s minds,” says Nancy Medeiros, Business Development Manager at TuGo, one of Canada’s top travel insurance providers. “But it’s very important that travellers read and understand what they are purchasing to ensure it meets their needs.”

Is there a deductible and how much is it? What is considered a medical emergency and what isn’t? How are pre-existing medical conditions defined by the insurer and how do they impact a claim? Is there a maximum amount you’ll be reimbursed? Does your insurer pay your bills up front, or reimburse you later? You want to know exactly what you are buying.

That’s where TuGo can help. TuGo has partnered with Allstate to offer single trip and multi-trip annual policy options as well as specialized ones, such as Sports & Activities Optional Coverage, which covers adventurous travellers who like to do more high-risk activities.

Why you need travel insurance for vacations within Canada

The No. 1 reason you need insurance for travel in Canada is that your provincial healthcare coverage may not cover you the way you might assume it does.

“Many Canadians aren’t aware that their provincial healthcare plan won’t cover everything once they leave their home province. If they experience a medical emergency, costs like ER fees, doctors’ visits and X-rays may only be partially covered,” Medeiros says.

Other costs that provincial healthcare plans won’t cover, but Allstate’s TripMate® Travel Insurance* coverage includes:

  • Ambulance (ground, mountain and sea rescue)
  • Essential medical devices like splints, crutches and canes
  • Prescription drugs
  • Emergency dental services
  • Return of vehicle
  • Hospital service costs in a semi-private room

For Ontarians travelling outside the province, for example, OHIP will cover physician services at walk-in clinics and services provided in a public hospital, such as emergencies, and laboratory and diagnostic work but other services are not. Go to the OHIP website for full details on what’s not covered outside Ontario.

And, if you plan to travel outside Ontario for more than 12 months, you’ll need to apply for health-care coverage in the province or territory you will be in.

“Unforeseen incidents can happen at any time,” says Richard Ollier, president of the board of directors with the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada. “Travel health insurance is essential to ensuring you, your family and your finances are protected if met with a medical emergency. Insured travellers have access to 24/7 emergency medical assistance by specialists that can help them navigate health-care services wherever they are.”

No one goes on holiday expecting anything serious to happen, but you should know that it can, and Medeiros says there’s no dollar figure that you can place on the peace of mind of knowing you are covered in the event something bad does happen. She tells the story of a Quebec woman who went on a long-anticipated ski holiday in British Columbia with her family. Unfortunately, during a ski run, she crashed into a tree, causing traumatic injuries to her kidney. The woman had to be airlifted from the mountain to the nearest hospital and, due to internal bleeding, the doctor kept her in hospital for five days before releasing her.

Quebec’s provincial health plan doesn’t cover many out-of-province fees such as outpatient visits to the doctor. When the woman submitted her medical bills from her B.C. trip, she was reimbursed nearly $7,000 by TuGo, for the air ambulance and doctors’ fees.

Arm yourself with information before you travel

If you are travelling within the country by car or plane, and haven’t been outside the country, be sure to find out if there are any federal travel restrictions. There might also be provincial or territorial restrictions and guidelines you should be aware of. You want to get the most up-to-date information, concerning such things as self-isolation and testing requirements, specific to the area you plan to travel to.

Talk to an insurance professional, too. They will have helpful information and can offer various optional coverages as well – such as insurance for lost, damaged or stolen baggage, rental car protection and non-medical insurance for situations like missed flights or trip cancellations.

You want the trip to be an enjoyable and memorable one. Making sure you have the right travel insurance in place can help ensure that, should something unexpected happen, your trip doesn’t come with expenses that turn your dream trip into a nightmare.

®Trademark owned by Allstate Insurance Company used under licence by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. ©2021 Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is not the provider for this insurance. Insurance is administered by North American Air Travel Insurance Agents Ltd. doing business as TuGo®, a licensed insurance broker in all provinces and territories. The issuer of the contract is Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. and Industrial Alliance Pacific General Insurance Corporation. TuGo® and TripMate® are registered trademarks owned by North American Air Travel Insurance Agents Ltd. doing business as TuGo®.

This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are based on research and interviews with the authorities identified, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.