What Is Covered by Travel Insurance?
Many Canadian travellers look for ways to save money and often focus on the wrong things and avoid considering things like travel insurance. While it might seem like an unnecessary cost for your travels, the small amount you invest in your policy will barely cover a nice meal, depending on your destination. It’s not just to cover illness, but also to address typical challenges you might face, such as having to cancel your trip unexpectedly or lost luggage. Travel insurance policies are designed to protect travellers from many scenarios that can occur, offering comprehensive coverage for various potential challenges both before and during your trip. Here is a look at what is typically covered by travel insurance and what you should ask your insurance provider when considering your policy.
Even though you saved for your trip and are looking forward to getting away, there can be a sudden unexpected issue that could mean your plans have to be cancelled. This can be any number of scenarios from illness to work reasons, to the death of a family member to a hurricane at your destination. Cancellation is one of the main reasons travellers might elect to invest in travel insurance. However, your cancellations are not covered in all scenarios. Most trip cancellation coverage allows you to collect your prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses as long as it’s for one of the following reasons:
- Your own illness, injury, or death or that of your travelling companion or a family member
- Severe weather at your destination or the location you are travelling from
- A terrorist attack at your destination
When purchasing trip cancellation coverage, you can choose to insure some or all of your trip expenses. You often also have the option to choose the “cancel for any reason” coverage, which usually only covers partial losses. However, it’s usually the lion’s share of about 75 percent.
Trip interruption insurance is slightly different from trip cancellation, as it reimburses you for unused trip expenses if you have to head home early. The coverage comes into effect the day your trip begins and will cover additional transportation costs you pay out when you unexpectedly have to return home mid-trip.
Although some benefit packages and health insurance will cover travel care in case of emergencies, you need to check to find out exactly what’s covered. Anyone is at risk of getting sick while travelling. If you don’t have health coverage, you will be responsible for paying for your medical bills. This can be very costly, especially when travelling to the United States. Most travel insurance policies offer some form of medical coverage, including:
- Emergency Medical Coverage for the costs associated with medical treatment for an illness or injury such as physician services, ambulance services, and hospital charges.
- Medical Evacuation covers transportation to the nearest hospital and even costs if you are ill and have to fly home.
This is an especially important aspect of travel insurance for Canadians travelling in the winter months. With unpredictable weather, you can find yourself stuck in any number of airports when flights are cancelled. This insurance covers not only cancellations and medical emergencies, but will pay for delayed flights and even missed connecting flights. While winter is risky, delays can happen at any time of year. This coverage helps cover costs related to flight delays out of your control, from bad weather to plane maintenance issues. Depending on how many flights are affected at once, it can be challenging to find accommodation, and it also can be an expense you aren’t in a position to pay. Hotel and meal costs are covered over the period of time you are delayed. Many policies will even cover you if you miss a flight due to an accident on your way to catch your plane.
Lost, Damaged, or Delayed Luggage
Lost or delayed luggage can happen to anyone. Without your luggage, you will have to buy clothes and personal care items until your belongings arrive. If lost, you will need clothing to last for your entire trip. Your policy will refund your costs to replace your clothes and essentials if you are without your luggage for 12-24 hours. When everything is lost, your policy should cover most or all of the costs to replace your losses. There will be limits for lost or damaged luggage, typically ranging from $250 to $500.
Questions to Ask When Buying Travel Insurance
When buying travel insurance, you should make sure you understand your coverage. Asking the following questions will help clarify what you are getting:
- What exclusions are there for cancellations?
- How much of my travel expenses are reimbursed with my cancellation insurance?
- How do pre-existing medical conditions affect my medical and cancellation travel insurance?
- What is the deductible?
- Does my medical insurance cover accidents related to risky sports and activities such as scuba diving, hang gliding, or mountain climbing? Most insurance companies consider risk levels before providing insurance. When risky activities are covered, it will include higher rates.
- What baggage information will you have to present prior to your trip to ensure there are no delays in getting your reimbursement? Make sure to mention expensive items you are taking on your trip, from skis or golf clubs to cameras and computers.
Remember, it’s important that you are as honest as possible when applying for travel insurance as if you aren’t upfront about your health and travel plans, you will run into issues when trying to process your claim. The more information you provide and the more detailed it is, the more likely it is your policy claims will be processed without being challenged, or face potential delays.
Why You Need Travel Insurance
Just like car insurance, most of the time, your travel is safe. However, you have no control over what happens during your travels and, therefore, you want to be covered for all potential challenges. With the right travel insurance, you will be covered for the main costly issues that can occur, from accidents to medical emergencies, to unplanned travel delays and cancellations. While it might seem unlikely that this will happen to you, everyone is at risk for less-than-ideal vacations. When you have a solid travel insurance policy, you can plan your trip with less stress and know you are covered should the worst-case scenario occur.