Travel Medical Insurance for Canadians
Canadians will usually require medical insurance when traveling abroad. Canadians are covered by their provincial health authorities for basic emergencies when traveling in Canada.
When traveling abroad, in particular to the U.S., there is no national or provincial health coverage, and the traveler is dependent on insurance to cover any medical expenses.
Travel insurance can also cover other emergencies, such as loss or theft of baggage or emergency evacuation.
Canadian Domestic Insurance
Canadians traveling domestically in Canada are covered by the national Canadian health insurance system. This constitutes 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans.
The coverage is standardized by the national government through the Canada Health Act. A Canadian national will be covered by the health insurance plan of the province he is visiting.
Travel Insurance Abroad
When traveling abroad, the Canadian provincial health plans do not apply. Canadians need to sign up for private insurance when traveling. A large number of companies offer medical insurance for travelers. The coverage of the plans varies widely.
Insurance companies in Canada are regulated by the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, as well as provincial regulators, which means travelers can be certain the insurance company will have the means to honor the policy.
High Risk Groups
Senior Canadian citizens who go to Florida during winter (so called “snowbirds”) need a private insurance to cover their medical needs.
Visitors to areas prone to disease with poor medical care, and those who practice extreme sports, are also risk groups who need to be careful about their medical coverage.
Health Plan Coverage and Selection
Policies are typically negotiated with the provider. Selecting coverage from a multitude of options can be complicated. Whether there is a need of more than basic coverage depends on the medical risk group of the traveler. For those in risk groups, the policy needs to be carefully designed to take the risk factors into account.
To avoid surprises, it is important to clarify if there are any situations excluded from the plan, and whether the policy specifically excludes high-risk sports or adventure activities.
It is also important to find out how the insurer determines eligibility. In particular for those who are elderly, clarifying whether they have to qualify or pay for medical tests can be a major cost saver.
Also important to clarify is whether the plan will exclude benefits when the medical emergency is due to complications from a previously existing health condition. Related to this is to determine whether there is a deductible for each claim.
Travel Insurance Providers
There are several providers of travel medial insurance in Canada. Most of the large insurance companies provide travelers health insurance plans. Many specialized providers also exist. Canadians, in particular those who are residents of the U.S., can also get health insurance from U.S. companies.
In Canada, the travel insurance varies little between providers. The industry is competitive as well as regulated. Prices are typically competitive as well. Quotes are, however, individualized, which makes it hard to compare prices between individuals. Individuals can compare prices between insurers.