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Why you should buy travel coverage when travelling in Canada

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Choosing Coverage, For when you're travelling

Do You need travel coverage while travelling in Canada?

Buying emergency medical travel insurance is always recommended for trips to the United States or abroad but what about trips within Canada to other provinces or territories?

For basic services like doctor visits and hospital care for medically required services, provinces and territories have agreements with each other to be billed directly; you rarely will see a bill. The only exception is Quebec; Quebec participates in these agreements for hospital services but not physician services. Some doctors in other provinces and territories may also request payment up front for services provided. If you do have to pay up front, you can apply for reimbursement from your provincial health plan.

So why do you need extra coverage when travelling within Canada?

There are still medical expenses not covered by your provincial plan and you’ll be on the hook for those costs. Like any insurance policy, you have to ask what’s covered—but just as important — what's not covered. When you ask this important question the need for travel insurance—even while travelling in Canada—becomes clear.

Each province varies; some provincial health plans won’t cover air and ground ambulance or any related costs if you’re in an accident or become ill while travelling outside your province of residence. Some may extend coverage for those "additional benefits" but most don’t.

Private travel insurance covers ambulance services, prescription drugs and other additional benefits not covered by your provincial plan. For example: semi-private hospital rooms, emergency dental care, rental of wheelchairs, crutches or canes. You can even get coverage for a family member to come to your bedside while in hospital along with an allowance for meals and accommodation.

Now some of these expenses may be covered through your workplace benefits, but all plans are different and coverage may be limited. Some travel insurance may also be first payer meaning that limits on your workplace benefits are not impacted and you won’t affect your group coverage premiums.

In addition to emergency medical, travel policies can include coverage for trip cancellation or interruption, and lost luggage.

Your provincial health insurance follows you when you travel Canada; but given the exclusions and the benefits it doesn't cover, is it enough in the event of an emergency? Always consider purchasing travel insurance before you leave regardless of your destination—even within Canada.

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