How to Buy Travel Insurance?

Anything can happen when you travel. Protect yourself from cancelled flights, lost luggage, or an emergency medical bill with travel insurance.

WRITTEN BY
Caitlin Wood
Updated November 23, 2020

When it comes to travelling, there’s a lot more that goes into the planning phase than just booking your plane tickets, hotel, and rental car.

Anything can happen when you travel, which is why you should be financially protected when you leave home. Whether it be a cancelled flight, lost luggage, or an emergency medical episode abroad — certain situations can leave you with a big bill to pay.

Thankfully, travel insurance can offer protection from a number of unexpected events so you can receive reimbursement from loss or damages. 

Types of Travel Insurance Available 

There are generally two types of travel insurance that you can buy:

Single trip policies. As the name suggests, single trip coverage will protect you on one trip and will end when you return home. The trip can include a variety of destinations where you will be covered until the entire trip is done. 

Multi-trip policies. If you plan to go on numerous trips within a 12-month period, then a multi-trip policy may be better for you. With this type of coverage, you will be protected for multiple trips within a one-year span. 

Coverage Options Available

No matter which one of the two types of coverage you wish to take out, you have options to customize your policy:

Domestic Travel

If you’re staying within Canadian borders, domestic travel coverage will protect you during your travels. 

International Travel

If travelling abroad, then an international insurance policy would be required for coverage. Ensure that the policy covers you in the location that you’re headed to.

Cruise Coverage

While some travel policies include cruises, others require that you add a cruise option or take out a cruise-specific policy.

Comprehensive

A comprehensive insurance policy covers trip cancellation, trip delay, trip interruption, baggage delay, baggage loss, medical, and medical evacuation. 

Luggage Coverage

If your policy does not offer coverage for lost luggage, you can take out a luggage-only policy. 

Medical-Only Coverage

Medical insurance is ideal for those who are only concerned about the cost of emergency medical care. 

Cancellation-Only Coverage

You can buy coverage to protect you if an unexpected event forces the cancellation of your trip. Just be sure to verify the approved reasons for cancellation in your policy. 

Types of Travel Insurance You Should Get

Get this …If you want this …
Travel medical and accident coverageReimbursement for expenses paid out if you get sick or injured while on vacation
Emergency evacuation Transportation to the nearest hospital or a flight home 
Trip cancellation and interruptionPayment if you get sick and must cancel your trip or end it early
Theft and loss coverageReimbursement for lost or stolen luggage 
24/7 assistanceAssistance locating a physician abroad
Auto collision insurance Reimbursement for rental car damage

What Travel Insurance Typically Covers

Travel insurance can be quite comprehensive, depending on the particular policy you choose. The following items are generally covered under travel insurance:

Trip cancellation. If you must cancel your trip for whatever reason, trip cancellation will cover you for any expenses that would otherwise be non-refundable. 

Trip interruption. If you must suddenly return home during your trip, travel interruption coverage will reimburse you for the non-refundable portion of your trip as well as any additional costs for going back home early. 

Travel delay. This coverage will reimburse you if you’re forced to pay for accommodations or travel expenses due to a delay in your trip of at least 6 hours.  

Missed flight connection. If you book an indirect flight and miss your connection as a result of a delay in the first leg of the trip, you may be reimbursed. This may also apply if you miss the embarking of a cruise as a result of a delayed flight. 

Baggage loss or delay. This coverage will reimburse you for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage, as well as in the event that your luggage is delayed for at least 24 hours. 

Emergency evacuation. If you suffer a medical emergency and require immediate attention, this type of coverage will reimburse you for costs incurred to get you to the nearest hospital.

Medical and/or dental. Any emergency medical expenses or dental work required on your trip will be covered with medical or dental coverage, respectively.

Pre-existing medical conditions. As long as you are not experiencing any symptoms before you leave for your trip, some insurers may provide medical coverage for a pre-existing condition.

Accidental death. If you suffer an accidental death on your trip, accidental death coverage will pay out a death benefit to your named beneficiaries.

24-hour assistance. If you need help with anything no matter where you are in the world or what time of the day or night it might be, a policy with 24-hour assistance can help you.

What Travel Insurance Doesn’t Cover

While travel insurance may cover a slew of issues, there are also a number of things that it does not cover, such as the following:

  • Suicide and intentional bodily harm
  • Trip cancellation due to poor weather
  • Losses associated with participating in a criminal act
  • Losses associated with participating in a dangerous sport
  • Losses incurred during a trip to receive medical treatment
  • Losses associated with being under the influence of alcohol or drugs 
  • Claims associated with mental or psychological disorders
  • Claims associated with existing medical conditions
  • Claims whereby you did not take all measures to avoid losses

Be sure to check your policy thoroughly or speak with an insurance agent to verify what is and isn’t covered in your policy. 

Where Can You Buy Travel Insurance? 

You can obtain travel insurance from a variety of sources:

  • Your travel agent
  • An insurance broker
  • Your employer’s insurance provider
  • Your credit card issuer
  • Your bank

What Information Do You Need to Buy Travel Insurance?

You’ll need to provide the following pieces of information to an insurance provider when purchasing travel insurance:

  • Your departure and return dates
  • The total cost of your trip
  • Your main destination where you will be spending most of your time
  • Your address
  • The age of each traveller in your party at the time of travel who will be under the policy

How Much Will Travel Insurance Cost You?

The overall cost of travel insurance will depend on numerous factors, including the following:

Amount of coverage you need. The biggest factor involved in the cost of travel insurance is the coverage amount requested. The more comprehensive the plan, the more you will likely pay. Only opt for coverage that you actually need to keep costs down. For instance, if you’re not travelling with checked luggage, then you can get away with a policy with lower luggage coverage. 

Your age. Much like life insurance, the older you are, the more expensive your policy will be. 

Your destination. Some destinations pose greater risks than others, and as such, your insurer will charge premiums according to the risk level based on where you’re travelling. 

How long you’re travelling. The longer your time abroad, the higher your premiums will be. 

The number of travellers in the group. More people being covered will increase the cost of your premiums. That said, some insurance providers offer discounts for multiple travellers on one policy. Be sure to verify with your insurer. 

Things to Consider When Buying Travel Insurance 

Before you take out a travel insurance policy, there are a few important considerations you should make first:

Ask about deductibles. If you ever have to file a claim, your policy won’t kick in until you’ve paid your deductible first. Deductibles are usually applied to emergency medical care costs, but may also apply in baggage or trip cancellation coverage. Find out how much the deductible is, since you may have to pay this portion out-of-pocket.

Look into coverage well before your holiday. You don’t want to get a last-minute policy right before you leave. Instead, you should take the time to carefully consider exactly what type of coverage you require. As soon as you book your trip, take out a travel insurance policy. In some cases, you may be required to have held your policy for a certain amount of time before you can be covered.

Find out how long you will be covered. If you are planning to take an extended vacation, make sure you will have coverage for the duration of your travels. 

Consider pre-existing medical conditions. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition, ask your insurance provider about obtaining a waiver. 

Get coverage for only what you need. Over-insuring your trip will only cost you more and leave you with the coverage you don’t need. 

Make sure you’re adequately covered. While you don’t want to be over-insured, you also don’t want to be under-insured, especially when travelling overseas. Don’t be skimpy on coverage in a foreign land.  

Look into cruise coverage. While rare, it’s not impossible for you to be on a cruise and require emergency evacuation at sea. Cruise coverage isn’t cheap, but it could be worth the cost. 

Review all details of your policy. Before you head out on your trip, make sure you’ve read over all the nitty-gritty details of the policy to make sure you fully understand what you are and are not covered for. 

Does Everyone in My Family Need Separate Policies?

No, everyone in your family should be covered. In addition to single policies, there are also policies that cover couples and families. Young children are generally covered for free, though they can still be a part of a family policy when they’re no longer dependents. 

When it comes to couples who do not live together, you may want to check with your insurance provider to see if you can both be covered under the same policy, as conditions may vary.

Final Thoughts

We’re fortunate to have great coverage here in Canada, particularly when it comes to healthcare. But when you cross international borders, that coverage no longer applies, which is why travel insurance can come in extremely handy. And in addition to medical coverage, you can get coverage for other losses too, such as those related to a cancelled trip or lost luggage.