Getting on a plane these days is frightening. The notion of contracting COVID among strangers when you work so hard to stay safe, mask on, and in a family bubble – well, it’s difficult to justify the risk.
But people love to travel. A recent twitter survey reports the #1 concern for any sort of travel was safety. It’s likely why 47% of those surveyed plan on driving for their next vacation. Road tripping may enter a golden age as a safer alternative to avoid the virus.
It begs the question, is travel insurance within Canada a thing? Or, more precisely, do you need health insurance to travel within Canada, especially during a pandemic? We have public health care, right? The answer is that you typically don’t. Still, depending on your health situation, it might be necessary to get in-country travel insurance for Canadians.
Do you need health insurance to travel in Canada?
Yes, though it depends on your health situation, because not all provinces offer the same coverage as your own. This lack of coverage parity among regions means you may be paying out-of-pocket for services. While some expenses may qualify for reimbursement from your home province, It’s not always the case.
For example, for Ontarians travelling outside of their province, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) does not cover the following:
- ambulance services (including transport and paramedic)
- prescription drugs and other drugs are given outside a hospital
- home-care services
- fees charged by private hospitals or facilities (e.g. physio, dentist)
- diagnostic or laboratory services outside of a public hospital (e.g. bloodwork, x-ray)
- long-term care or residential services
- assistive devices (e.g. prosthetics)
- Other services not generally covered in Ontario (e.g. cosmetic surgery)
In general, most people don’t need these services while out of the province. However, purchasing travel insurance for seniors, someone with a pre-existing condition, or disability, would be a wise choice.
What medical services are covered by provincial health insurance in Canada?
Getting a walk-in or emergency doctor’s opinion on your condition is covered. However, if they prescribe you medicine, order blood work, or an x-ray – those services aren’t covered by OHIP. Unless you visit a public hospital – diagnostic imaging, blood and urine tests, or any other “emergency” services are covered.
Any treatment you receive in another province must be medically necessary for OHIP to pay or reimburse you for it.
Know that you must display your valid Ontario health card for anything to be paid for by the province, so make sure to bring it with you.
If you’re buying out of province insurance, it’s often coupled with some sort of trip protection, but make sure you aren’t paying for what you don’t need. If you are worried, do additional research and make an informed choice based on your province and your needs.
Types of travel insurance for travel within Canada
There are many types of coverages available in travel insurance. For travel insurance within Canada, there are 3 types to consider.
Trip Cancellation or Interruption
In the event of trip cancellation or interruption, this insurance will reimburse any prepaid and non-refundable travel expenses, including hotels, rental cars, or skiing in Banff. Read the fine print, though. If everything you book is refundable, then this insurance is of no use. Also, many credit cards cover trip cancellation and interruption.
Otherwise known as baggage insurance, reimburses you in the event of loss, theft, or vandalism to your luggage. Know that there are limits to the coverage, including its contents and the luggage itself.
You might get a payout for a delay, and another, later on for lost luggage. Depending on the insurance, you might need receipts for everything – which can be extraordinarily difficult.
Medical travel insurance
If there is coverage worthy of the cost, it’s health insurance while travelling – whether in Canada or abroad. Ambulance services, laboratory work, or repatriation back to your home province aren’t covered by your provincial plan. The costs can add up. Without quality health benefits at work or an excellent travel credit card, it’s worth comparing travel insurance quotes and weighing your options.
Car insurance while travelling
Your Ontario car insurance will cover you across Canada. All provinces have some sort of no-fault insurance in place, so you’ll only ever deal with your insurer. Suppose you’re renting a car and don’t have your own insurance. In that case, we highly recommend rental car insurance – at least the third-party liability. Your credit card may cover the collision portion.
The bottom line
Insurance is for the unforeseen and unexpected. Whether you need travel insurance within Canada is debatable, but know your risks. If there’s a medical emergency, can you afford to pay the out-of-pocket expenses? Medical travel insurance is relatively inexpensive, especially in Canada.