Ontario Travel Health Cutback Confirmed. Now What?

Now that the Ontario government has confirmed its decision to terminate all emergency medical costs for its residents travelling out of the country—effective October 1, 2019—we must ask what’s next for the millions of Ontarians who are accustomed to cross-border day trips for shopping, sporting events, regular family reunions, or in some cases even work. (Ontario’s action does not affect health coverage while visiting other provinces.)

Recent surveys confirm that over 76 per cent of Canadians surveyed in 2018 said they had some form of travel insurance on their last trip out of the country—with older groups (boomers and snowbirds) having the highest rates of coverage. They know, they have the experience. They have heard the horror stories about what can happen without it. Younger groups, not so much: there’s still a reasonable amount of “invincibility” thinking out there.

Multi-trip policies come into their own

But there’s also some good news: more than one-fifth of insured travellers in 2018 purchased annual multi-trip insurance for out-of-country travel. And according to surveys reported by the Conference Board of Canada, over the past decade the number of annual multi-trip policy purchases has grown by an average annual rate of 13.5 per cent, and more multi-trip policies were sold last year than single-trip policies.

And that may be just the answer for those Canadians who up to now have been reluctant to go through the hassle of signing up for insurance policies every time they leave the country—even for a shopping trip south of the border.   

The beauty of the multi-trip policy is that you sign up only once a year, usually for a maximum number of given days, e.g., seven days, or 15, or 30, or whatever is offered by any particular travel insurance vendor. Then you can take as many trips out of the country as you wish—each trip up to but not exceeding the pre-defined limit—and you can do it without notifying your insurer. You just get up and go, and you know you’re covered.

If on one of your trips you plan on staying out longer, just call your insurer and “top up” your coverage for the additional days you need. Again, no hassle, no more forms or applications to wrestle with—just peace of mind.

Of course there are still some limitations—pre-existing conditions must be reported, and if your health status changes between or during one of your trips you need to call your insurer and your terms of coverage may have to be amended, but that you would have to do with single-trip plans too.

And here’s the bonus. Annual multi-trip plans are cheaper than single trip policies—sometimes a lot cheaper—usually based on the trip duration you choose. Let’s face it. Provincial health insurance never paid very much for any out-of-country hospital bill–only about five per cent.  But with the withdrawal in Ontario of even these small amounts (and let’s see what happens in other provinces after this), private insurance for any trip out of the country—even if only for an hour—has become mandatory: not legally so, but as a practical fact of life.


Travel freely, travel blissfully. We cover Canadian Travellers with travel medical insurance and non-medical travel insurance such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, and baggage worldwide. We’ve got it all taken care of. For more information, visit https://www.ingleinternational.com/en/travel-insurance/canadian-travellers, call us at 1-800-360-3234 or email us at helpline@ingleinternational.com.

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