How to Buy Travel Insurance Safely – Part II

Canada’s travel insurance market is rich in choice, even if you’re not quite as healthy as an Olympic athlete. But before you get to the nitty-gritty of comparing products and prices, you should sort out your basic needs according to your general health, age, duration, frequency and purpose of travel.

Let’s narrow down the choices to make them more specific to your individual needs.


No frills, No Pre-existing Coverage Required

If you’re perfectly healthy, take no medications, have no medical history, see your doctor only once a year for an annual checkup, and are not under orders to have tests taken or to see a specialist,

consider a basic plan that does not cover pre-existing conditions nor asks you to complete a medical questionnaire. It is the cheapest, and the least complicated to buy: so long as your medical history is as impeccable as you think.  But don’t delude yourself, and carefully read the policy’s definition of “pre-existing conditions.” Remember, it is the insurer’s definition of “pre-existing condition” that governs what qualifies for coverage—not yours, not your doctor’s.


Expanded Coverage for Less-Than-Perfect Health—That’s Most of Us

If you take some prescribed medications, occasionally or often see your doctor for symptoms or medical conditions (even ones that have not been diagnosed), you should consider a plan that includes medical questions or requires you to meet certain defined health eligibility standards. You need to read these carefully and if in any doubt that they apply to you, ask your doctor for advice about what is in your medical records.


Medically Underwritten Coverage

Quite often, applicants over a certain age or with existing conditions (even though they are controlled) are asked to complete “medically underwritten” applications that cover their medical history in detail. If these are completed accurately, and the insurer accepts your application on the basis of your accurate responses, you have an excellent assurance of coverage should you encounter an emergency while out of Canada. But accuracy, based on an understanding of the terms of coverage and your own medical history are essential. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help in completing your application if you’re unsure of why you’re taking certain medications, and why you are undergoing certain tests. It’s worth the additional time and effort to be sure you have the coverage you need.


Single Trip Plan—Buy as You Go

Are you planning one single trip this coming year, or maybe two?  Then a single trip policy, based and priced on precisely the number of days you will be out of your province is your best and simplest choice.

This type of policy is priced on the number of days you will be away, usually on a per diem basis. The greater the number of days, the higher the premium—not only in total, but per day as well. For example, if you travel for 12 days, your premium per day will be lower than if you travel for 90 days. Why? Because your chances of having an accident or requiring medical care while out of your province are heightened the longer you are away. And it is your risk of encountering a claim that generates the price you pay.


Multi-Trip Plan—For Frequent Travelers—An Increasingly Popular Choice

If you’re planning several out-of-province trips over the year, you should consider buying an annual, multi-trip plan that allows you any number of trips of a maximum given duration (e.g., 15, 30, 60 days) over any 12-month period. Insurers offer different trip-length options. You apply and pay only once, and you don’t have to notify your insurer when you are taking your trips. But there are some rules you need to understand, so ask your insurer to explain them to you. You can only travel out your province up to your maximum selected trip duration—no longer, unless you specifically purchase a top-up supplement for that trip segment. And you must return to your home province for at least one 24-hour period (this may vary slightly from insurer to insurer) before beginning another segment. How will your insurer know? They probably won’t, unless you generate a claim.  But if you do, you will have to prove your exit and entry dates from your province: show documentary proof you have not exceeded your trip limit.

Why consider a multi-trip plan? For the convenience of applying only once, being able to take a short trip at a moment’s notice without advance preparation, and for the big reason than it is a lot cheaper than buying a series of single trip plans. It’s cheaper because your premium is based not on the total number of days you’ll be out of your province over the year, but on the number of days you will be exposed to risk in any one single-trip segment. We’ve already explained why it’s cheaper to be covered for seven days rather than 27. But there is a tradeoff:  if you generate a claim during any one of these segments, you must notify your insurer before you take another trip as the terms of coverage will likely have to be adjusted.

The annual multi-trip plan has become one of the most favored coverage options for frequent travelers over the past decade. And it’s an option that can be applied to a basic no pre-existing conditions policy or a medically-underwritten plan described above.


No Reason Not to Travel

So even if you’re not in perfect health, there’s no reason not to travel—but pay attention to the travel insurance plan you choose.


Are you ready to get started? Browse insurance plans for your upcoming journey here.



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