Carry Proof of Travel Insurance for Foreign Travel

If you’re traveling overseas this Christmas, remember to carry proof of travel insurance with you. Many countries are now requiring that you have sufficient insurance to cover any emergency while visiting them. And your provincial coverage is not good enough. You need your private insurance card and preferably carry your policy. 

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT): “Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. It is essential to obtain supplementary travel insurance ― health, life, disability, driving, vehicle, and trip cancellation ― before leaving Canada.”

In addition to Cuba, which in 2010 announced that it would require all foreign visitors to carry proof of travel insurance or buy it from one of its own companies when entering the country, many European nations are making the same demand. The reason is that they don’t want to be stuck with high medical bills for foreigners who leave without paying up.  And be it in Cuba, or Europe, hospitals bills can run into the thousands of dollars in a very short time. Your provincial plan pays only a fraction of what foreign hospitals charge.  Don’t count on that.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) lists Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine as specifically requiring Canadian citizens to be prepared—in some cases required—to show proof of medical coverage while visiting. It notes further that in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Estonia, the minimum medical coverage required is 30,000 euros (approximately $42,500 Canadian), while Lithuania stipulates that health insurance is mandatory for all non-European Union citizens, and visitors unable to demonstrate sufficient proof of medical coverage must purchase short term insurance at the border.

Similarly, DFAIT notes that the government of the Ukraine requires all visitors to obtain mandatory health insurance from a state-supported company at their point of entry.

Because border requirements change frequently, you change check with the government links we have on our homepage when planning your overseas trip to see what documentation you will need.  Not all will require you to show your insurance card, but if they do, and you don’t have one, you could be denied entry and all your travel plans and the money spent on them will be lost. And it’s not enough to swear that you are covered by such and such a company or group plan, or even to provide a policy number.  You need a card, or the policy itself.

Go to our homepage, click on the Travel Reports and Warnings link, thenclick on to the countries you will be visiting or transiting through, and go to the Entry and Exit Requirements. That will tell you what travel insurance proof you need.  And while you’re on our Homepage, also click on the TravelHealth gc.ca logo for updated health information about health updates and warnings.

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