Many retired Canadians choose to spend some of their new-found leisure time travelling, whether it’s winters in Florida or exotic trips to far-flung places. If you’re travelling abroad, do you need travel insurance and if so, what kind?
Are you already covered?
If you are a member of an employee benefits plan, you may already have some coverage (most commonly medical) through your workplace. Many credit cards also provide coverage. If you book your flights using your credit card, it may include medical, trip cancellation/interruption, or baggage insurance (for delayed, lost or stolen bags). Your rental car may also be covered if booked using your credit card. Credit card travel insurance may only cover a set period of time eg. 14 days, so if your trip is longer, you may need additional coverage. Before spending money on additional insurance, review your existing coverage carefully.
As Canadians, we may sometimes take for granted that we have free universal health care. But when travelling out of province and out of country, an emergency hospital or doctor visit, or calling an ambulance, can be very expensive. If there’s an incident, the cost may far outweigh the insurance premiums, so not having insurance may not be worth the risk.
Long trips abroad require a lot of planning and are often booked far in advance. However, by the time the trip rolls around, unforeseen circumstances, like an illness or injury, may mean you have to cancel your trip. Things can also happen back home while you’re travelling, like a death in the family, that require you to return immediately. Having trip cancellation or interruption insurance will reimburse you for eligible trip expenses. And it can even kick in if you experience long travel delays, covering the cost of a hotel and possibly an allowance for food.
Suited to you
You can purchase insurance for a single trip (lasting up to a certain number of days), or coverage for a full year for an unlimited number of trips of different lengths.
Snowbirds planning to fly south can purchase extended stay travel insurance even if they have “pre-existing conditions” like a diagnosed medical condition or illness. Some insurance providers may ask you to complete a medical questionnaire to determine if you’re eligible for coverage and to provide a quote. Since every insurance provider may have a different definition of a pre-existing condition, make sure you review the details of any policy carefully before making a purchase.
Peace of mind
There’s already enough to think about when you’re planning a vacation. Applying for and purchasing travel insurance can be done quickly and easily at a branch near you and coverage can begin as soon as you need it. Your coverage will also include assistance with lost or stolen travel documents. With travel insurance, you’re paying a little but you’re getting a lot in terms of peace of mind.