There are still a large number of Canadians who don’t buy private health insurance when they travel out of the country. Some are the 18 to 24-year olds who think they are invincible, but some 10 to 15 percent of mature and elderly travelers don’t buy it either. It is the latter group that is most puzzling because they should know better.
Travel insurance is accessible through banks, credit unions, member organizations, brokers, insurance companies, auto associations, thousands of outlets: you can hardly scan the pages of a publication for seniors that doesn’t have some ad for travel insurance.
In addition, every federal and provincial government website that deals with travel or international affairs urges all travellers to get insurance for any out-of-country travel. So do most travel agents. Yet the message goes unheeded and often the result is a stay in a foreign hospital that costs more than the traveller can pay.
Some elderly travelers assume that because they are going back to visit relatives in “the old country” they will be taken care of in case of emergency since they were once citizens of that country. But that is not true, and they will be treated like any other foreign tourist—either provide proof of adequate health insurance, or cash on the spot—a valid credit card will do.
Many people from the U.K. have written TIF saying they don’t worry about going to visit their family “back home” as the NHS will take care of them. Well the NHS is not free for tourists. And though many European countries have reciprocal arrangements between each other which protect travellers within Europe to some degree, Canada has no reciprocal arrangements with any other country. In effect, once you leave Canada, you’re on your own, except for the tiny amount paid by your provincial insurance.
Travel insurance is accessible to anyone in Canada—even those in less than perfect health. It has become a fact of life for Canadians, some of the most frequent and adventuresome travellers in the world.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking it before you leave the country.
All travel insurers advertising on this site meet TravelInsuranceFile’s acceptability criteria for out-of-country health benefits for Canadian residents and they represent most of the major insurers and underwriters in Canada. They can all advise you on the limitations and allowances of travel to distant countries. Speak with them, explore their products online, ask questions, and once you get the right answers, buy right online.