Why should you get travel insurance?

03 February 2023 by National Bank
Young woman running on the beach with the sun setting in the horizon

Planning to work remotely from a sunny location, study for a few months in Australia or explore the Rockies in British Columbia? Wherever your plans take you, be sure to get travel insurance for greater peace of mind. Here’s a helpful overview of the types of insurance policies that can protect you when the unexpected happens.

Why should you get travel insurance?

It’s simple: Travel insurance can save you from additional costs in the event of unforeseen events or accidents. In addition to giving you peace of mind, your insurance could help you stay within your travel budget.

Although travel insurance is usually recommended, it may be mandatory in some situations. It all depends on your purpose for travelling and destination. Let’s take a closer look at some of these situations.

Going on vacation

Generally speaking, travel insurance is not required when travelling as a tourist. However, some countries may require it in order to issue a visa or allow you to pass through customs.  

For example, to travel to some countries, you will need to prove that you have valid health insurance. Your provincial healthcare coverage may be sufficient for entry but may only provide limited coverage once you’re inside the country.

So save yourself the headache and get ahead of the game by purchasing travel insurance that includes healthcare, hospitalization, and repatriation costs.

Good to know: Some countries require proof of valid travel insurance that covers COVID-19-related costs. Regardless of your destination, when planning your trip abroad, consult the Canadian government’s website to find out the entry requirements for your destination country (external link). Keep this link in your favourites, as it is updated daily.

Working or studying abroad

Generally, if you are working or studying abroad, you will need to have travel insurance that is valid for the duration of your stay. You will likely need to present proof of travel insurance to the country’s embassy or consulate here at home prior to departure. If not, you will probably have to present this proof upon arrival at customs to obtain your work visa.

If you are preparing to study abroad, contact the educational institution you will be attending. They will be able to tell you about insurance requirements for international students.

Expert tip: Find out the number to call in case of a medical emergency in your host country. 911 is not a universal number, and some countries even have three different numbers depending on whether you need to contact the police, request an ambulance or report a fire.

Are you about to travel abroad to work for your Canadian employer? Talk to your employer about your group insurance plan or foreign worker insurance plans that they can offer you.

If you are considering working abroad, other rules may apply. Ask your employer the following:

  • Does your company have a policy on working abroad?
  • Is there a maximum number of days/weeks you need to respect?
  • Does your company’s group insurance plan cover you when you are outside the country?

There may also be some tax implications to consider when working remotely from another country. Check out our tips on the subject to help you prepare.

What are the different types of coverage?

Travel insurance policies vary from one insurer to another. Most, however, cover the following risks.


Travel insurance can be especially important in case you need emergency medical care.

Be aware that your health insurance plan is usually not valid outside your province. Without travel insurance, medical expenses related to a visit to a doctor or services from a healthcare professional could be costly. Fees must normally be paid at the time the services are provided.

If you are only covered by your provincial health insurance plan, you may only be eligible for partial reimbursement. Many of these plans only reimburse an amount equivalent to the cost of the same treatment at home.

Accidental death or dismemberment

In addition to emergency medical care, accidental death and dismemberment insurance offers you additional financial protection. In the event of death, for example, a lump sum payment will be made to your beneficiary or successor. This coverage is also important because it would pay for your repatriation to Canada by land or air.

Flight delay or cancellation

In the event your flight is delayed, your travel insurance policy can also reimburse you for living expenses, such as accommodation and meals. When a layover of a few hours ends up lasting a few days, you’ll be happy to be compensated for the extra costs incurred because of this unexpected delay.

Lost or stolen baggage

Pack a little extra peace of mind by choosing travel insurance that includes a clause for lost or stolen baggage.

Some travel insurance plans can even help you in the event you lose important personal documents such as your passport and bank cards. If you contact your embassy or banking institution while abroad, you may find yourself paying out of pocket.

Trip cancellation or interruption

Your trip may be cancelled or interrupted unexpectedly. Trip cancellation or interruption insurance can help protect the value of your travel-related purchases such as airline tickets and accommodations.

Ensure that your insurance policy covers all or part of the costs you may incur.

Pro tip: To take full advantage of trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you must obtain it before making any purchases for your trip.

How much does travel insurance cost?

There is no set price for travel insurance in Canada. The amount you pay will vary depending on your insurer and the coverage you choose. That’s why it’s important to take the time to shop around for coverage that best suits your situation and needs.

If you plan several trips during the year, some insurers offer annual coverage plans for all your trips that are of similar duration and cost.

Good to know: Some group insurance plans also offer some sort of travel insurance. Check with your employer and make sure that the coverage offered is adequate. You can supplement your coverage with personal travel insurance if you want more protection.

Does my credit card’s travel insurance provide enough coverage?

Many credit cards cover the cost of flight delays, lost baggage and car rentals.

Find out about the coverage that comes with your credit card and see if travel insurance is part of it. Be sure to also check out the benefits of using your credit card when travelling.

In short, no matter how long your trip is or where you’re headed, talk to an insurance specialist. They’ll be able to help you find the best coverage options for your next adventure.

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